Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day 5 - Truckee, CA to Sparks, NV

Today we crossed our first state line! We're in Nevada! I slept great last night. Probably because of such a significant effort climbing so much. So morning wasn't such a penalty today. After a good hotel breakfast, we stepped outside to load the trailer and noted it was our coldest morning yet. The guys from Florida were shivering. I said it was balmy and Sean from London agreed. But, in truth, it was about 49 degrees. I dressed in knickers and two jerseys--one long-sleeved--and my jacket. Sean, Brad from Columbus, and I rolled out of Truckee and headed south towards Lake Tahoe.

We hadn't gone very far when Brad pulled over with a flat. The sunshine felt good standing on the side of the road while he struggled with his front tire. Soon Gerard, our fearless ride leader, pulled up. He was in "Silver" (each van has a name, either "Silver" the silver van, or "White" the white van) pulling the trailer. Gerard is a master bike mechanic and had Brad's wheel shipshape in no time. We rode about 11 miles south to Squaw Valley Ski Resort where we accessed the bike trail that would follow the Truckee River. The views along this easy bike trail were outstanding. It was another day basking in God's creation.

Sean, Brad and I took our time rolling along the bike trail stopping here are there for photos. We posed on a bridge and took turns with each other's camera. I stopped and sat on some rocks for a quick portrait. Overall, we just soaked in the scenes unfolding all around us. Several resorts were positioned right on the river. I could envision a long weekend here with my wife. So much to see and do.

We rolled out of the river and were now in Tahoe City riding on the shoulder or bike lane along Rt. 28. There were plenty of tourism businesses like kayak guides, bicycle rentals, and restaurants, followed by medium-sized but attractive homes positioned right on the lake or overlooking it. We stopped at Carnelian Bay for a great shot looking southwest along the north shore with the Sierra Nevada Range in the background. Sailboats were anchored a few yards offshore. It was a quiet Thursday morning with nothing to do but ride and enjoy the view.

Kings Beach was the next small town followed by Brockway where we found the Brockway Bakery and pulled in. America by Bicycle does a great job of not just picking the route, but suggesting good stops along the way. The sun was shining on the outdoor patio tables so we plopped down our stuff and went inside to select from the wide array of baked awesomeness. The aroma when you opened the door was overwhelming. Everyone knows that bicycling and bakeries go hand in hand. Today we were just proving the point. I settled on a raspberry danish and espresso. As we sat outside enjoying our mid-morning snack, we discussed the upcoming climb. We were going to tackle 8 miles of climbing Mount Rose. Our destination was the summit's pass at 8900 ft. But before we would climb, we would enter Nevada.

My friend, Chris, had commented on a Facebook post that we should check out a hotel/casino that straddles the state line. The bakery owner said it was the CalNeva hotel. So, it was settled. That was our next stop. We parked our bikes outside and locked them up and went in. The lobby is split right down the middle with one-arm bandit slot machines and card tables on the left, and well... California on the right! We played a few slots and took photos and then decided to move on.

Outside the hotel was the "Welcome to Nevada" sign and, of course, another opportunity for photos. We had just crossed over our first state line. California was crossed off the list. We were in Nevada. When we finish this ride, we'll have entered a total of 14 states and cycled across most of them. The road on the state line is crammed with hotels and casinos. But after a few hundred yards, they let up. And that's where we start going up.

Rt. 431, Mount Rose Highway, is about 8.2 miles to the summit but only 5 percent grade. That's manageable. It's still an effort, but with the view of Lake Tahoe below us and good conversation, the time goes by quickly. I pulled out my iPhone and turned on the tunes (using the iPhone's speaker of course because it's never safe to bike with headphones. This safety message brought to you by...) Boston was the music of choice to get me and Brad up the hill. Sean had already taken off and was well ahead. We caught Chuck at one point and enjoyed the view from an overlook.

Brad eventually picked up the pace and I enjoyed the scenery and music alone. I crossed 7000 ft. then 8000 ft. At 8500 ft., we were above the snowline and the temp was dipping downward. The views were of craggy trees and scrub brush with snow covered peaks in the distance. Just a little further and I'd be at the top.

The summit was now in view. I spotted the elevation sign first. "Mt. Rose Summit Elev 8900 - Highest Year-Round Sierra Pass." Then to the left in the parking lot, I saw our van and trailer. After the requisite photos under the elevation sign, I rolled over to the SAG stop. It was windy, cold, and I was hungry. So, I made a PBJ, ate some oranges, rice krispies treats and whatever else wasn't nailed down. There was a 3ft. pile of snow next to the restrooms and I could tell this pass had recently seen snowfall. In fact, it was slightly sleeting while I was there. Now bundled up with every article of cycling gear I had with me, I descended the 16 miles down into the valley. The crosswinds were enough to keep me on the brakes, so my top speed never went above 36. The air temp was 46 when I left and steadily increased as I descended. When I reached the valley floor, it was near 70. That felt better. My numb fingers were un-numbing. Now, we enjoyed the tailwind into Sparks with a brief stop at a cycling store, a couple of minor wrong turns, and soon the hotel was in sight. First stop after checking in... the hot tub. The routine is forming. And I think I like it.

Tomorrow we are on Interstate 80 for the majority of the day. Our distance to Lovelock, NV is 91 miles. That sounds like a lot, however we have a 10-15 mph wind out of the southwest. That will be at our backs all day, prayerfully, and we can probably knock this distance out in 4 or 5 hours. So pray for the tailwind to continue!

To see all the photos from today, visit

To learn more about the Ride for Impact, visit

Dist: 69.29
Time: 5:00:52
Avg: 13.8
Max: 36.0
Cumulative Miles: 347
Elev Gain: 3958 ft
Max Elev: 8900 ft
Avg Climb: 4%
Max Climb: 9%

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Nicely done Bob - especially Mt. Rose. Love it! Can't wait for more... Praying for protection, safety, joy and NO bike troubles for you today!