Neil and Mel's Big Adventure

Adventure Tunes

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mel's View

Yes, we are woosies--but we are alive. Today is Sunday and we are in Eureka, Nevada--thanks to my wife, Karen. They are having record low temperatures here in this part of Nevada. It is 18 degrees here for a high today--and that doesn't factor in the 10-15 mph wind factor. I'll backtrack to set the scene. After leaving Cedar, we headed north with Milford our destination. It would be a 56 mile day with 1000 foot elevation gain. It was a pretty easy climb, sustained over distance. Temperature was nice in the 50s with little headwind until we neared the hills we needed to pass over. Karen and my son, Will, had left Salt Lake about 8:30. We hoped to meet them about noon in Minersville. We met them about 4 miles south of Minersville--a joyous reunion. A month is a long time to be gone from home. Will joined us for the ride into minersville and then lunch. he then joined us for 14 mile finishing haul to milford against a 15 mile head wind. We had been hearing about the coming weekend's storm so got a motel on the hill--very nice. With a hot tub. it was owned and operated by the union pacific which puts up some of it's transitory workers there. milford is a railroad town. weather reports were very dicey. the wind was very gusty that evening and very cold. we huddled and decided that the weather looked almost impossible to bike in. karen's hope was that she could get us at least as far as Ely before she returned to Salt lake. We agreed. it was snowing and bitter cold the morning we left milford. We strapped the bikes on the rear rack and neil's bob trailer on the roof rack of the car. We put all our gear in back and off we went to Ely. That would have been an 84-mile day with 3 passes over 1000 feet en route --to Baker. We would have never made it in one day under the weather/head wind conditions. we would have been sleeping in a ditch probably 20 miles shy of Ely on a record cold weather night. there is a point when weather and adverse conditions this late in the year dictates what can be done on a journey like we are doing. i drove that 84 miles slowly so we could see what we would have seen had the weather been better. before getting to Baker (which would have been our stop that night), we met a lady and man walking west in the storm about halfway between milford and baker--there is absolutely nothing between those two places. we wondered if it were the couple we had heard about who were walking across the country, but they didn't have a baby buggy. We stopped and it was another couple who had cached water every twenty miles across this barren stretch and were indeed walking across the country. They were from Fort Worth, Texas, and had started walking from Delaware in March. They were hoping to reach San Francisco by Thanksgiving and were generally traveling about 20 miles a day. We had a delightful visit with them. It was great for karen and will to see some of these amazing people who are doing these very hard things! The woman echoed my sentiments when she said, "i have no idea why i'm doing this!' if she doesn't know after almost seven months into her journey, i might as well quit trying to figure it out for myself. We wished them well. After leaving them, neil said, "I feel like we're babies." We stopped at the Great Basin National park visitor center, coasted through Baker, and made for Ely. Ely would have been another tough ride--bunch of uphill stuff. So we rode in a car to Ely for what should have been two days on a bike. Hate to admit it, but my backside sure enjoyed the soft seat of the car. At Ely, all our weather reports were atrociously bad. Record lows, bad head winds. neil and i had poor night's sleep--thinking about all possible options. We reviewed all our options this morning and decided to take up karen's offer to pack us another long day's bike ride in the car here to Eureka. After making the ride here a few hours ago, both neil and i believe this was the right thing. there is no point turning this ride into an absolutely miserable bad weather journey. it is tough enough to ride the distances we do, with the elevation gains required, under good conditions. no sense making this into a death march. we think good sense prevailed. and our thanks be to karen for hauling our sorry bodies to this place. She said not to call her an angel because it would soil her demon reputation carefully cultivated for decades. So i won't. i can't wait to hear she got back safely home this evening. So we'll start from here early tomorrow to head for the next town, Austin, about 70 miles away. prospects are good for improved weather in the 50s for the high. that is not only bearable, but good biking temperature. The morning will be really cold, but we won't die. By Wednesday they are talking about weather in the 60s or 70s. Really wide swings here in the high Nevada country. This is a mountainous country. lots of ups and downs. Big valleys and big mountains. we are traveling on highway 50 which is billed as America's loneliest road. We don't see many vehicles and the towns are very far apart. All the bike riders have told us that we need to pack a lot of water, so karen brought my Camel back, a bunch of bottles of G2, and a couple gallons of water. We estimate that we are 9-10 days from San Francisco, barring some storm brewing for the Sierras. The Sierras won't be that high to cross, but there is a 4000 foot high climb for us to get over them. The rest of California should be a breeze.mel p.s.--sorry about the capitalization, but the shift key on this keyboard is sticking.

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