ADVENTURER | ED DELVIN
I got the OK from Cyndy to try my third bike tour this summer, with luck I will be able to hit the road in early May. I am trying to plan the ride so that I end up in Seattle by mid July for a professional meeting, so that gives me a bit over two months for the 4,800 mile trip. I know that is a bit ambitious, but I can always jump on a bus or such if needed to get to the meeting on time As on my last tour I will be posting my daily locations during the tour using the TrackMyTour app on my iphone. I have always toured with my Road ID bracelet with contact and medical information on it. But I also had a small bead bracelet given to me from our dear friend, Ri Yoo, in Korea. The bracelets have become a bit of a good luck charm.
There were several things I was trying to accomplish when planning the route for this summer's tour. I wanted to be able to ride on Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) routes as much as possible as I love their maps and the support they provide. I also wanted to ride in parts of the country that I have not ridden on before.
My Wheels For The Ride
My bike is a CoMotion Cascadia. I like this bike a lot, it's about as sweet a touring bike as you can find. I have changed a few of the components on the bike this year. The bike is mostly an XTR setup with Velocity Dyad 32 spoke rims and Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 32 mm tires. I have gone from the Tubus Evo Cargo to the Tubus Evo Logo rack. The Logo carries the weight lower and seems to ride better that the Cargo. I am also using a 11-32 cassette this summer instead of the 11-34 I used on the first two tours. I did not put the fenders back on the bike after shipping it last summer, so I thought I would try a tour without them this summer, we will see how that works out.
I changed out the Avid BB7 disk brakes I used last time to the TRP Spyre disk brakes with center-lock rotors. The nice thing about the TRP brakes is how they mount on the frame, much lower profile allowing the panniers to hang down low without bumping into the brake housing. Doug and the folks at Bikes Unlimited tuned the bike up so it is ready for another cross-country jaunt. I also got a new set of the high-vis Ortleib panniers which are..... high vis. I also got a cool little temperature sensor for the Garmin Etrex 30 that allows you to show the temp on the Etrex home screen, entertainment while on the road.
Light-Weight Gear List: ...How Do You Spell 'Anal-Retentive'???
I come from a long lineage of folks that like to mess around with having lightweight gear for backpacking. It is interesting to me about what is considered light these days compared to what Colin Fletcher thought was lightweight back in the early 1970's. I don't do much backpacking any more because of the surgeries I have had on both knees, but can still ride a bike!
I have been able to drop a few pounds of gear weight on each of my tours as I sort out what I seem to use and need and what I can do without on tour. On my first tour I carried around 40 lbs of gear, second tour 30-35 lbs depending on where I was, on this tour it looks like I am starting out with about 25 lbs of gear.
Over 4,800 miles of traveling, you can definitely come up with quite the packing list. On bike clothing, off bike clothing, tent gear, necessary tools, and toiletries can add up quickly, so it's incredibly important to pack smart.
I had been traveling for 47 days before I cross the Utah/Nevada state line and into the town of Baker. For a breakdown on my journey prior to traveling the Loneliest Road in America, you can read more here. But, to pick back up in Baker...
Day 47: Milford to Baker, Nevada
Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 85 miles [137 km.] Total so far: 3,542 miles [5,700 km.]
I rode into the last new state for me on this tour as I have already ridden in California, Oregon and Washington which are still coming up. I have been looking forward to riding east to west across Nevada with its north to south mountain ranges giving rise to the summit/basin touring. There were three climbs and three basins and I got a sense of the long sight lines with the straight highway and long, flat basins. It is heating up with the temperature getting into the mid 90's, but the winds were mostly crosswinds, so not too bad, it is big open country out here. Very different riding for me, cool beans.
For starters, I’m definitely carrying extra water and supplies on this leg of the route due to its remoteness. There was very little traffic out on the Loneliest Road in America, or Highway 50. The sight-lines just keep going on across the basins to the next summit climb, with crazy blue skies. By the time I made it to the ‘Welcome to Nevada’ state sign, it was a two for one: a new state line and new time zone in one!
Before long I made it into Baker. Here, I set up camp for the night, found some shade and prepped some dinner.
Day 48: Baker to Ely. Basin, Summit, Repeat
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 65 miles [105 km.] Total so far: 3,607 miles [5,805 km.]
The headwinds were up today and coupled with a couple of good climbs, my lingering chest cold I got pretty pooped out. I had a chance to visit with several riders on the road. I departed early, and already climbed a summit and dropped into a Basin by early morning. The basin went on and on, and even included some cool windmills. They were barely moving when I saw them early in the morning and were spinning pretty well by the time I rode past them.
The skies and clouds out here are pretty amazing. I can see why folks think they see aliens in this part of the country…the skies are wild! There are a few cities in this part of the country.
When I got to Ely I once again found that the KOA campground was really not trying to cater to tent campers. They wanted 23 dollars for a tent site and a motel across town was only 30, so I am staying indoors tonight, especially because they are calling for some weather moving in. Before turning in, I headed out for dinner. This sucker was huge!
Hoping for a good nights sleep as it looks to be a long day tomorrow with four climbs and rain possible.
Day 49: Ely to Eureka...Severe Weather
Thursday, June 26, 2014, 78 miles [126 km.] Total so far: 3,685 miles [5,930 km.]
I got on the road at 5 am to try to beat the weather that they were calling for today, but it caught up with me. After a few hours the temperature dropped very quickly and it got very black up ahead. I stopped and put on full rain gear, including the first time I used rain pants that I have been hauling along for the trip. Then the wind picked up and it pored, the visibility was very poor, so I was glad for my bright rain parka, panniers and the two flashing lights I had on. The bad weather lasted a couple of hours and beat me up pretty well.
I met a rider later in the day that recommended a place to stay in Eureka in the city park behind main street, good call it was a great place. I met a couple of guys that were heading east. Then later in the day a group of young women rode in heading east that were supported by a van, they had a couple of huge tents, but we had a nice visit.
Day 50: Eureka to Austin. Camp Behind The Pool
Friday, June 27, 2014, 72 miles [116 km.] Total so far: 3,757 miles [6046 km.]
I started the morning off joined by a resident cyclist of Eureka that came by to visit us at the park yesterday agreed to ride along west with me to Devil’s Gate! We had a nice visit. Interesting day today, the 72-mile distance was not too bad, the two 7K summit climbs were not too bad, but the 40 mile flat section of basin seriously kicked my butt with strong headwinds for much of the day. At least I got to watch all the dust devils it kicked up. Had a couple of nice visits with folks during the ride today.
The clouds were still breaking up a bit more as the day progressed, which made for lots of sky-watching for this cyclist.
I paid a few bucks to shower and use the pool in Austin after a very steep, fast descent into town. I found they also let cyclists stay on the grass behind the pool and there are restrooms available for use, so that’s where I stayed for the night.
Day 51: Austin to Fallon. Long, Hot, Windy and Dry
Saturday, June 28, 2014, 114 miles [183km.] Total so far: 3,871 miles [6,230 km.]
114 miles to Fallon, the summits were not that bad and the wind behaved itself until the last 20 miles along the salt flats where I picked up strong headwinds and a very rough chipseal surface, so it was a long day. Along the way, I passed by a very curious colony of coyotes right next to the road. We had a fun visit. Summit after summit with some pretty amazing sight lines, you get used to the routine crossing Nevada.
I also passed through some salt flats, and traveled by Sand Mountain, which looked like a smaller version of the great sand dunes. Temp in the hi 30's this morning and in the hi 80's when I finished, I was pretty dehydrated even with the extra fluids I carried along. I guess its welcome to the high desert of Nevada.
I rolled into Fallon, and not having come across any obvious camping options, I could see that I was hot, tired and thirsty after a long day so I found a reasonably priced hotel. I ordered up two dinners, shrimp fired rice and chicken and broccoli and called it a night.
Day 52: Fallon to Dayton. Watch For Snakes
Sunday, June 29, 2014, 51 miles [82 km.] Total so far: 3,922 miles [6,312 km.]
I did not take too many pictures today which was a shorter day for me with mild winds, pretty flat route. That is a good thing as my butt is still dragging from yesterday's long ride. As I am getting closer to the state line the traffic has picked up significantly, and I don’t like it.
I found Dayton State Park right on the highway for a place to stay for the night. It was hot, in the upper 90’s when I got there in the early afternoon...by then I was ready to rehydrate! They had a very reasonable rate for cyclists, I think it was only 7 dollars. But the ranger said they had a rattlesnake warning up for the park, and they recommended I not get off the road and watch out around my tent site. I was more concerned about the very fat ground squirrels that were everywhere, folks said to keep all food off the ground if you wanted to keep it. I am looking forward to tomorrow as I should be able to ride into California.
Day 53: Dayton to Kit Carson Campground. California Bound
Monday, June 30, 2014, 54 miles [87 km.] Total so far: 3,976 miles [6,399 km.]
It was a shorter day, but a hard day of riding. It started with the traffic continuing to pick up from Dayton to Carson City. Highway 50 is no longer a very lonely road, lots of noise, debris on the shoulder and high-speed traffic. On the other hand, once you made it out of the city and headed up into the Sierras it was a lovely ride an I saw a number of non-touring road riders out for rides. I passed through Genoa, which was a really nice little town before starting a steep ascent.
It did not take long for the road to start to head up into the mountains and that was not much fun. Very steep grades, little or no shoulders, blind corners and lots of traffic heading up into the mountains, and its very hot out, yikes.
I am now off the ACA Western Express route and am on the Sierra Cascades route. I am hoping the road conditions and climbing are not an indication of things to come, it’s still over 1K to Seattle. There were a couple of campgrounds on either side of the road at the top of the climb today, so I chose to stay at the Kit Carson campground which was a bit further off the road. They had a store across the street where I stopped to get something cold to drink. I setup camp, and jumped, actually at my age, it was more like eased myself into the creek to wash off the day’s road grime put a couple of beers and myself in the water for a soak and to recover from the day.
Day 54: Kit Carson to Upper Little Truckee Campground...Lake Tahoe
Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 78 miles [126 km.] Total so far: 4,054 miles [6,524 km.]
Beautiful ride in the morning, though it was cold in the early AM. A series of climbs to get up to Lake Tahoe and traffic getting pretty heavy as this is peak tourist season. It has been years since I’ve been to Lake Tahoe, and it was as gorgeous as I remembered it.
Some pretty serious clouds started to build in the afternoon, so I grabbed a place to setup camp, took a water bottle shower, and really nailed the tent down. Severe afternoon weather and lightening started a series of forest fires right around my campsite, but the fire crews were everywhere and had them out in short order.
While this was only a portion of my 4,800 mile journey across the United States, Nevada most certainly surprised me. It’s wide-open spaces and wildly vibrant skies made for a scenic ride I didn't see coming. That, and paired with some quirky characters I encountered and minimal traffic made for a truly enjoyable ride. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in Nevada, but could definitely see myself going back to enjoy other scenic byways. With some incredible skies, maybe I’ll have to venture to the famed ET Highway next time…