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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

(Day 18) Another eclectic ride…

Monday, July 21st, 2008
Day 18
Richfield, UT to Great Basin NP, NV

At 7am on the dot, I started laying down tracks again and was looking forward to seeing a new state, Nevada. The trail would lead me directly into Fishlake National Forest and take me 4000 feet higher to almost 9000 feet in 23 miles:

And then, in only 14 miles, drops me back down 4000 feet. Here was one of the few areas that wasn’t straight downhill:

After about 5 or 6 miles of uninterrupted descent, I had to use a lot of front brake as I locked the rear up trying not to run through this fence, which was also on a decline:

My reward for making it all the way down was another fence to open/close:

Then it was time to boogie down Corn Creek Rd.:

Exiting Kanosh, UT, I got behind some government vehicles. I made eye contact with the driver in his rear view mirror and figured I’d move over like I wanted to pass. This guy never changed his speed or position on the road:

Fire damage was obvious around here, but I couldn’t figure out how it spread from one bush to another as the brush seemed rather spaced out. Once I started moving again, I see the government vehicles parked to the side, right in the middle of all of the fire damage, hmmm. Not too far away I encounter some old mines:

I’m not that adventurous. I think I’ll keep on riding:

I-15, let me see… is that on my itinerary… mmmm, no:

Shortly after the following picture was taken, 2 guys in a truck passed me (which rarely happened anywhere along the trail all the way across the country) coming the other way. The driver gave me the “rock on” sign:

Up until this point, the overcast weather and government feel had me down, but the simple “rock on” hand sign and smiles lifted my spirit a bit. Shortly afterward, the sky started to clear up as well. I’m going to have to go back and rank my pictures, but this is certainly a finalist:

After I-15, the scenery changes… must be getting ready for a new state. Geographically, Nevada was basically a series of North-South mountain ranges with large, flat basins in between. The trail along some of these basins lasted for…ev…er:

What does this sign tell you?

It means, you ain’t nowheres! You better hope you have enough gas and water or you’re going to die! [Insert Guns ‘n Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” jingle here] No, I’m just kidding, this was far from a jungle, but that was the song I had in my head at this point.

Shortly afterwards, I start to climb a soft, slow rolling hill at a fairly swift pace. As I reach the crest, the Orangutan locked her front and rears up and gravel was flying every which way leaving a nice skid mark out here in the middle of nowhere. I jumped off and yelled, “What was that for!?” She looked at me and pointed to the horizon and said, “Crystal Peak”:

Hopefully you know I’m just joking about that and no I wasn’t hallucinating, just going back and forth with myself in my head. Anyway, the view was grand. There was a salt lake (I guess?) to the north and if you look directly to the west on the horizon, you can see Crystal Mountain. It’s hard not to mistake it for a cloud as it appears solid white, standing in stark contrast to the rest of the mountain range. For those scoring at home, that’s just under 40 miles away. Let’s boogie down and get a closer look:

Getting closer?

I almost had to pee twice on my way to the base of the mountain, but I finally made it:

More long and straights:

And finally, Nevada:

Might as well get Utah in there too:

At 2:25pm, I reach Baker, NV, which is nothing more than 2 gas pumps and 2 bar/restaurants. At the restaurant I chose, I see the coolest Harley ever:

I think this guy’s name was Steve. He was from California traveling to Cody, WY to meet his wife. Can you say, packing light?

Great Basin National Park was about 10 miles up the mountain, so that’s where I headed to set up camp. Nice little information area here:


…by a creek:

It was about a 20-30 degree temperature difference on top of the mountain, a welcome relief from the dry and sunny lower elevations.


Tomorrow’s plan is a little bit up in the air. The trail runs south and back into Utah for a bit before swinging back around to Eureka. It looks like a mess on my GPS screen, so we’ll re-evaluate the situation in the morning. For now, I plan on sleeping on the picnic table and viewing the stars until I either fall asleep or the sun comes up.

Total mileage: 3631
Daily mileage: 178
Wildlife observed: Ran over a snake…
Favorite Sight: Crystal Peak
Favorite Scent: Nada
Favorite Sound: Didn’t hear much else beside the KTM today
Favorite Taste: Some random IPA at the restaurant for dinner.
Favorite Feel: Squishing that snake (just glad it didn’t loop back around)
Ailments: None

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

(Day 17) Railroad crossings, canyons, tunnels and a lot of blood…

Sunday, July 20th, 2008
Day 17
Green River, UT to Richfield, UT

Up and moving at 7:38am, I was glad to get out of Green River, UT and to start moving to the next town. The first hurdle of the day was right outside of town:

My GPS route (still a little screwy) ran right over the tracks at this point. I had already seen reports of this little speed bump in previous TAT reports, so I wasn’t surprised, but still unprepared. By looking at the tracks, you could tell the railway was fairly active. So, however I decided to get my bike over would have to be swift. The laws of physics would probably allow me to simply hit this track head on in 2nd or 3rd gear and I’d make it over just fine. But, for some reason, this didn’t seem like a good idea. After a few minutes of taking my time to plan this out, I figured it out pretty easily. The Tugger straps I installed before the trip would pay for themselves and then some. Facing parallel with the tracks, I picked one end of the bike up and the tire would slide right over. After repeating this four times I was on the other side and ready to rock and roll again. I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with an efficient plan and not wearing myself out like I usually do. And, oh yeah, not getting hit by a train.

Anyway, I get my westbound trajectory on and start one of many I-70 crossings, this time, we’ll go under:

Not long afterwards, I would make a wrong turn (due primarily to my screw GPS routes) and come up on this… err, road?

I kept climbing this thing and eventually came to a 3-sided cliff. It’s hard to see the front side of the drop-off, but you can see where it drops off on the sides:

I drove too far up this thing and didn’t leave myself much room to turn around. The rocks were loose and made it sound like I was walking on broken glass. But again, I just took my time and got her turned in a more favorable direction.

All of that happened right before entering my first canyon ride:

I really can’t describe it better than the pictures:

It was fun, no doubt. Then, after exiting the canyon, I got a great view of the landscape. It’s nothing spectacular; it’s just something I’ve never imagined before. Tall grass, plateaus and mountains in the background, I liked this view very much, just wish I had a better camera and a clearer day:

This looked like Mt. Rushmore, Planet of the Apes style:

Like I said before, I would zig-zag back and forth along I-70 for the majority of the day, here is where the trail runs alongside the interstate:

And here are the tunnels that run right through the mountain:

I highly recommend revving it up a bit in here, it’s not the same as revving up in a concrete tunnel:

Then a lot of this:

…before I roll into Salina, UT for lunch. These bikes were different:

But, if there was a bike that was the exact opposite of what I like, this is it.

The gas station attendant directs me to Mom’s Café for lunch. Wearing full dirt bike gear into a small café at 12:30pm on a Sunday afternoon in small town Utah is pretty ballsy. But I guess I don’t mind people staring at me so long as I can get some good local food. I put my order in for the special, a Malibu Chicken Sandwich, and hit the john… while washing my hands in this particularly small mens/womens bathroom, my nose starts to bleed profusely. Dang it. I do a pretty good job of cleaning all the blood up from the sink and my face, but it takes about 5 or 6 minutes before I can stop it and walk back out. Luckily, no one was waiting on me and I eat my lunch staring at the ceiling to keep the read sea at bay. If I didn’t look weird to begin with, I’m pretty sure I was looking weird now. The Chicken Sandwich was great though.

Richfield wasn’t far away and this is my only picture between the two towns:

I roll into Richfield and find a room at the Appletree Inn. The town looked really nice (at least, compared to where I’ve stayed the past two nights), but I guess being Sunday, it was like a ghost town. I ate at the only place I could find that was open, the Little Wonder Café. I change my oil, upload pictures, download GPS tracks, prep for tomorrow and hit the sack:

Up next, Nevada and Great Basin National Park.

Total mileage: 3453
Daily mileage: 165
Wildlife observed: Snake, jack-rabbits, magpies, chipmunks
Favorite Sight: The contrast between red and white dirt
Favorite Scent: Sagebrush
Favorite Sound: Revving up in tunnel
Favorite Taste: Most definitely the Malibu Chicken Sandwich from Mom’s café.
Favorite Feel: Learning to stay on top of the bike in the loose stuff. Still breaking the habits of street biking.
Ailments: A cut seems to be infected on my hand, oh well. Overall just plain tuckered out.