Thursday, August 21, 2008

(Day 19) Nevada

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
Day 19
Baker, NV to Battle Mountain, NV

I just gained an hour, but it doesn’t really matter. I generally wake up at the break of dawn, start packing up and start to imagine what in the world this day is going to be like?

The last thing I did before departing was to hook up my GPS. I felt something tell me not to plug it into the bike with the key and GPS unit both on, but I ignored. Fuse, blown. Did I pack extra fuses? No. Doh! How can anybody forget fuses? Sigh. My GPS internal battery was probably around 10% (long story, but apparently a bug in the firmware is preventing my unit from charging completely). I wouldn’t be able to make it to Eureka without my GPS dying on me. 7:10am, a muffin and OJ at the Electrolux and off to Ely I go. NF466 was a dirt road that lead me in that general direction, so let’s start making my own TAT!:

This lasted 13.5 miles taking me up 2000 feet before dropping me back down to 50, booo (it did cut out about 20 miles of 50):

It was funny seeing the signs that read, “Hwy 50, The Loneliest Road in America”. I bet whoever coined this term has never ridden any of the TAT. I passed at least 5 cars on 50, about the same number of cars I’ve passed in between all TAT towns to this point. Too many people!

Anyway, I reach Ely around 9am, get gas, Gatorade, granola, Mobil 1 15w50 and that hard to find fuse at Radio Shack. Back in business, and back on the TAT:

At some point before Eureka, the trail just simply disappears. With my routes looking more like a 3-year old’s self portrait rather than following a trail or something, getting lost was easy to do. At some points I rode directly over the sagebrush in the general direction that I needed to go. Sometimes I’d find a cow trail to follow:

Hmm, looks like an antelope leg, at least something has been here before:

After tip toeing through the sagebrush for a bit at around 5 or 6 mph, I see a cloud of dust ahead and figure that a road is near by. Upon closer inspection, it turns out to be wild horses, cool!

This is something I was hoping to see on the trail; a little closer to the action would have been nice, but I’ll take what I can get. It’s amazing how fast they can rip across the sagebrush. Even with my $8000 dirt bike, I would never be able to keep up, leading me to believe that the Cowboys and Indians are still faster than what I was currently working with.

At any rate, I get back on some 2 track and can see “The Loneliest Highway in America” out in the distance, no more worries:

Meet you at high noon… Eureka:

Running 50 must have put me ahead of schedule so I decided to top off on fuel and water and start my next scheduled day to Battle Mountain. I reach a gate not 5 miles out of Eureka that says something about “Do not enter, Hazardous something-another”. Rather than poke around to find another dirt route, I just hit some more of 50 and gain a little more time to reach Battle Mountain at a decent hour:

Here’s where I exit 50 to make my way back to TAT:

Back on the trail:

I didn’t get many pictures past this point, I guess I just dozed off and was just knocking off the miles, smelling the sagebrush, thinking about all sorts of things and just enjoying the freedom. It’s a shame too because it would have been cool to have gotten a picture of the Cortez Gold? Mining operation. But I felt like I didn’t belong in those areas, so I just kept on trucking. Other than the miners, there wasn’t jack-squat anywhere. And, oh yeah, for future TATers, the deep sand traps are no joke. They will slow you down faster than you could ever brake. I highly recommend a steering stabilizer and sane speeds.

Mother nature called me so I started to look for somewhere halfway cool to stop so I could at least get a steady picture of something. That’s when I found this:

Why, it’s almost like it supposed to be a bathroom. As I start doing my thing, I hear something that sounds like thunder? Wind? No, a white chevy blazer coming up behind me! Nice, I haven’t seen a single solitary car for the last 50 miles and one just happens to pop up when I’m watering the sagebrush. And, they wave at me, what is a man supposed to do here? I just nod.

Back on the road, I start to develop a dislike for sagebrush. At first, it was neat, then it smelled good, then I was glad I could ride over it without puncturing my tire, then I was glad to see it change in size. Now, I just don’t like it, it’s everywhere and I want to see something different… About that time I see a cloud of dust ahead, oh cool, someone is driving this wa--- BAM!!! Coming around the corner was a white jeep wrangler doing at least 50mph. I saw him first and I was already halfway into the tall sagebrush when he saw me. Had he not seen me, which was entirely possible given his speed, I would have been just fine. But he did see me and jerked his wheel to the right, thus throwing his rear into a drift headed right for me. Luckily his tires found traction and he tracked back to his side of the road. He didn’t have time for brakes, so I felt a slight shockwave hit me as be blew by. My fate now was to be engulfed in a huge cloud of dust, I just cut the engine off, close my eyes and accept it.

About 30 to 40 seconds later, I can open my eyes and realize that my pants are still dry, so it must not have been that bad, but it was a close call, here is the picture and you can see how much room he left me on my side of the road (the dust marks running horizontally with the picture prove he was in a slide as he passed my bike):

I continue on down the trail and see a few shiny Busch Light cans and his tracks all over the road, nice. Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled program… is this the Battle Mountain?

It was the most distinctive mountain near town, so that would be my guess. One thing about this part of the trip was that I really had my expectations too high going into each town. From the months and months of planning, you become quite familiar with the town names. Then, when you’re running down the desert, all hot and thirsty, you start to imagine these town as being oasis full of water fountains, green trees, flowers and beautiful people. Only to be thoroughly disappointed when you get there:

Big Chief motel was what I determined to be the best bang for your buck, so that’s where I stayed. I would eat at a Mexican joint on the other side of town, change oil, lube the chain (did this everyday), download pictures, upload pictures, download GPS tracks, write down a few things and finally hit the sack:

Tomorrow is supposed to be the longest day between fuel stops. As long as I stay on the trail, I should have plenty of gas to make it…but staying on the trail hasn’t been so easy for me, now has it?

Total mileage: 3896
Daily mileage: 265
Wildlife observed: Wild horses, antelope, chipmunks, birds of all sorts, crazy jeep guy
Favorite Sight: Radio Shack guy opening up just for me and had the right fuse
Favorite Scent: Sagebrush in the morning, not so much in the afternoon
Favorite Sound:
Random guy at Eureka gas station (not on a motorcycle): “Hey, man! I did it too!”
Me: “Did what?”
“Ride the trails man!”
“What trails?”
“I rode my dirt bike all the way from Elko to Eureka!”

Favorite Taste: Granola bars are about all I tasted.
Favorite Feel: Orangutan getting grip in the deep, deep dust
Ailments: Lower back from sleeping on picnic table

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