I'd like to start off by saying, "85 miles and 3,200 vertical feet of climbing, baby!"
On Sunday the road riding gang met in Wellington, NV, a small farming community in Smith Valley. It was a bit nippy out, so we put on the wind vests and arm warmers and headed out. The ride started out with a nice flat road out of town, and gave us a nice warm up before hitting the climb up the canyon. Within the first half hour, we were too hot, and stripped off the vests and arm warmers at the first pit stop.
I expected the temperatures to be much cooler, and the snow levels much lower this time of year. It felt like May with temperatures in the high 70s! After emerging from the canyon, we were treated to views of the Sweetwater mountain range for several miles. I felt like we were on the set of a Clint Eastwood Western. In fact, High Plains Drifter was filmed not too far from here.
When we reached Sweetwater Summit, the highest point in the ride, I had already felt like I had a good ride. Turning around at this point would be a good 40 miles, but we were only half way to Bridgeport. We got on the bikes and headed downhill for several miles towards the Walker river. My descent was abruptly interrupted by a couple of Asian tourists. They honked their horn at me and were asking me if this was the road to Las Vegas. They were clearly lost, so I had them pull over before we crashed.
They had a junk map...just a one page tear out of some tourist magazine that had only the main roads on it. They asked me to show them where they were on the map, but I told them this road was not on their map. I gave them instructions on how to get back to Yerington, and over to HWY 95, the well traveled route. It would be a bit of a back track for them, but better than trying to steer them through some obscure mountain pass if they continued on. Always carry a good map when traveling in Nevada. It can be very far between services!
Everybody else was gone, so I was thankful the Asian guys were so friendly. It could have been bad. They could have been lonesome desert dwellers with a homo-erotic spandex fantasy perhaps. I got down a bit further and saw that Kristy was waiting for me. I wouldn't have to ride alone after all! We took turns drafting down the rest of the descent, and then headed up the Walker River towards Bridgeport Reservoir. We soon entered California, and it started feeling less like the desert. We regrouped with the rest of the gang, and got a pace line going all the way to the reservoir. When we climbed out of the canyon and saw the water and mountains, it was breathtaking!
We pedaled along the lake shore and finally arrived at the half way point of the ride, Bridgeport. We were thirsty and starving, so we patronized one of the local delis. During our brief stay in Bridgeport, the population temporarily increased to 848. After resting, we saddled up the bikes and headed back north. My butt was already getting sore, and we still had 42 miles to go!
In order to get some quick miles done, we organized a pace line. Jeff F. and Jeff P. took turns leading. I'm still getting used to the whole pace line thing. When I ride my mind likes to wander. I like to look around and take pictures. It's my meditation time. In a pace line, however, you have to concentrate only on riding. If your mind starts to wander, you find the guy in front of you drifting away from you. At one point, Amy was giving me pointers on what I was doing wrong. I didn't quite understand what she was telling me, but before I could figure it out, she said, "There you go!". Apparently I had corrected what I didn't know what I was doing wrong! I have much to learn.
The pace line broke apart when we reached the 900 foot climb back to Sweetwater Summit. It was the steepest climb of the day, and we were at around mile 60. Kristy and I started falling back from exhaustion. In my mind I was going to have to take care of her and help her back with lot of encouragement; however, after doing a glucose carb-bomb, Kristy took off and was way ahead of me! I would be the one that needed words of encouragement... After topping the summit, we started down the canyon. The canyon seemed to go on forever. I was happy when we got to the flat desert section, but as you can see from the picture, it was a pretty long stretch too. I didn't feel relief until we made the final turn into town with only a few miles to go. The last stretch felt like a ceremonial ride! A parade lap.
Normally I hate getting in the car, but with our 3rd degree monkey butt, the wide padded seat was heavenly. Kristy and I drove home and quietly celebrated our longest ride ever!
More pictures from the ride can be found HERE.