Today can be characterized as one of the hardest days I’ve ever spent on a bike.
I rode 80 miles directly into the wind, and not once was it kind to me. Every single mile, every single uphill, and every single downhill was spent battling the wind. And the wind was in full force: 30 mph with gusts over 45 mph! I was peddling as hard as I could to go down a steep hill and still only reached speeds of 9mph. One time the wind stopped my bike from rolling altogether, another it almost pushed me off the bike.
On top of all that, I climbed 4 mountain summits for a total ascent of over 6,000 feet – not only uphill, but into the wind. It was not an easy day.
The wind was so bad that our 3 cross-country cycling friends from yesterday (Matt, Tony, and Emily) bottomed out at mile 45. They rode with Justin in the RV the rest of the way to Ely.
We met Alan at the RV Park on Monday in Austin. He had camped overnight and we offered to carry his gear to Eureka. This morning after loading his gear again into the RV, Alan and I headed for Ely. We literally battled the wind together. And after 10 days of talking to myself, it was refreshing to talk to someone new!
Alan is a Patent Agent at Chevron and when I asked him what he loves about his job, he replied without hesitation, “the challenges, the problem solving, the creativity, and working with interesting and intelligent people.”
After almost 9 hours of dueling with the wind, Alan and I finally made it to the sweet town of Ely. We had just endured 80 miles of more monotonous desert prairie, and we were never so happy to see people, shops, and signs. (Historical Note: Ely was founded as a stategecoach station along the Pony Express. Its mining boom did not occur until 1906 with the discovery of copper so it did not suffer the mining downturn in the late 1800s that Austin and Eurkea did. With the increase in demand for copper in 2005, Ely has become once again a thriving mining town.)
Ely boasts the Historic Hotel Nevada, established in 1929, notorious for its illegal gambling and bootlegged refreshments during Prohibition. Purportedly, Wayne Newton learned to work a crowd at the Hotel Nevada. Today, its memorabilia-decorated walls share many stories of the past 82 years.
We ate dinner at the Hotel Nevada and it was there that I met Traci. Traci has worked at the Hotel’s casino for 8 years and has been trained to do every job on the floor. What she loves about her jack-of-all-trades job is the variety, the responsibility, and the constant interaction with people, especially regulars. As we were talking, at least 3 of them walked by and said “hello” to her. Traci’s moxie makes the crusty 1929 establishment shine!
- A field of sheep protected by a watch dog that barked at me incessantly when I approached and didn’t stop until we rode away.
- A plastic jug rolling up a 6% grade hill blown entirely by the winds
- Original mine shafts in Ely (see picture below)
Miles: 80.06 miles
Total mileage: 689.68
Total ascent: 6,021 feet
Wind: 30 mph with gusts over 45mph!
Total interviews: 15
Road kill count: 70
Destination for Day 12: Baker, NV (last ride in Nevada!)