Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Day 10: Elko, NV to Wendover, NV
Time for a Century! Today, we loaded the luggage at 5:45 a.m. then biked across the street to the Red Lion Hotel function room for a savory breakfast. Everyone brought their bikes into the function room, which we don't normally do. So, it was funny to see 28 bikes stacked across the walls of the room while we inhaled our breakfast.
Following breakfast, a handful of us decided to form a paceline for the day. We knew that covering 108 miles would necessitate cooperation and pacelining. For those just joining this blog, a paceline is a single file line of cyclists that take turns "pulling" or leading the line.
The riders in the back benefit from the reduced wind resistance riding behind the lead rider. Our first 7.1 miles on Business Loop 80-E gave us some time getting comfortable pacelining. A couple of riders were having trouble with our pace on the hills, so inevitably, this shook down the group. We had a solid six of us that stayed together for most of the ride.
We got on I-80 once again and rode for 33 miles to reach our first SAG ("Support and Gear") stop. The day was sunny and bright with high clouds and winds mostly coming from the ESE. That meant we occasionally had a head wind, which made the paceline all the more essential. Soon we were riding past snow-capped mountains far to the south and green sagebrush prairies immediately to our north and south. The northeastern Nevada scenery was more lush than the northwestern scenery we had been riding through for the past four days.
Our paceline was working well. We were all benefitting from the increased efficiency. We would each take a turn at the front and usually lead for a mile or two. Star Wars quotes came to mind when we passed "Deeth Starr Valley" at exit 333. Our SAG stop was just 10 miles ahead. The air was cool in the morning but got increasingly warmer. Despite being in a fast paceline, we were still able to absorb the beauty around us. I have perfected the art of photo taking on the bike while pedalling. The other riders initially were quite impressed. Now many of them have adopted the same skill. We don't miss a pedal stroke. See something you want to photo? Pull out the camera, point, shoot, tuck it away, keep pedaling. Many of you have asked if I'm texting while riding. Nope. Tried it once. Don't want to die, so I'll only text while stopped. I have read emails on the bike, however. Don't tell my mom.
We reached our SAG stop and there were only three riders ahead of us. We were making great time. We fueled up, watered some sagebrushes (we call that "hunting for rattlesnakes"), and then got back onboard. The miles were clicking by. "Wendover 66, Salt Lake 189" Hmmm. I've biked 206 miles in one day (three times) when I've done the Seattle to Portland ride. I could probably make it to Salt Lake today if I had to. But I did not. We'll keep this to 108 miles, thank you very much!
At Exit 348, I was surprised to see a sign for "Beverly Hills". I double checked the route sheet. No, we're still in Nevada. We haven't gotten off track. This Beverly Hills was decidedly lower class than the one in Los Angeles.
At 60 miles, we made a group mini-stop just to stretch the legs and get off the bike for a few minutes. We had done the same mini-stop earlier in the day at 30 miles and that seemed to be a wise call. I saw a flowering cactus at the edge of the road. No rattlesnakes despite several of us hunting for them.
Now we had a nice long climb to reach the second SAG stop. At mile 65 or so, we began climbing. The grade wasn't more than 6% but the day had warmed up into the mid 80s and the climb was a good 1500 ft. over five miles. Jack, Brad and I hung together on the climb. I paced them up the hill with the help of Bono and U2. Yep, pulled out the iPhone, turned on the tunes, and played 'em as loud as I could to help Jack and Brad follow me up. The big rigs passed us and we kept climbing. Throughout the day, many trucks and motorists had passed us and gave us a repeated happy honk as if to say, "Hey you cyclists! I see you there! Keep going! Well done!" A few of them waved at us, we waved back. I like those waves far better than the single finger wave we rarely get. The scenery was changing to more rock and high desert trees. It was still quite beautiful.
At the top of the summit, we spotted the vans and trailer and pulled out to enjoy the spread of goodies. We were still at the front of the pack and that felt great. We could now enjoy a decent downhill to recover and then some long flat stretches before the final descent into Wendover.
We charged down the descent, enjoyed some long pulls in the paceline through flat sections with one or two mild climbs. Chris had joined our group and suggested as we neared the final miles that we try a double paceline. We broke into two columns of three riders each and rotated clockwise. Immediately we noticed how much fun this was. It was more social since we could talk to the rider next to us, and you experienced even more efficiency in the middle and back. We sailed over the next 12 miles until the Utah Salt Flats unfolded before us.
We stopped at the top of our final descent overlooking the Salt Flats below. It seemed you could see for hundreds of miles. We gathered on some rocks for a group shot and exchanged victory fist bumps. Now for the final descent.
Our descent into Wendover was fast with a great view of tomorrow's ride. We reached the bottom, turned right, and rode into West Wendover. Mountain Time Zone. Last opportunity to gamble before entering Utah. We found our hotel, the Rainbow Hotel and Casino. Upon checking in, we discovered why it was so named. Everything is neon and irridescent. Like a rainbow colored unicorn barfed and this hotel was the result. Unsavory description, but accurate.
The hot tub and air conditioning were a just reward for the day's efforts. Tomorrow, we ride 117 miles across the Salt Flats and into Utah. We'll roll into Salt Lake City just in time for a day of rest. Five of our riders will leave us, for which we'll be sad, but 12 new ones will join us for the eight days across the Rockies.
For more photos from today's ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100138
For more about the Ride for Impact, please visit
Cumulative Miles: 757
Elev Gain: 3798 ft
Max Elev: 6846 ft
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 6%