Friday, June 12, 2009
Day 6 - Sparks, NV to Lovelock, NV
Tailwinds Rule! We departed Sparks under a sunny sky with winds coming from the southwest. The temp was around mid-60s and I decided this was the day to wear the sleeveless jersey. A few other riders commented on my attire. One of our ride leaders said, "You're going sleeveless already?" My decision would prove to be a good call when the desert temps reached 85, which is still pretty cool for this region.
We rode through Sparks for a few miles toward I-80. After 3.5 miles, we entered the Interstate. Many of us were worried about 80+ miles on the highway, but we immediately noticed that the Interstate wasn't as bad as we imagined. The shoulder was wide and clean, free of most of the junk a cyclist finds there--shredded tires, metal junk, and assorted garbage. Best of all, the route was flat and for the better part of the morning, we were enjoying a tailwind!
I began riding with Brad, Chris, and Alex. Soon, Brad and Chris had put quite a distance between themselves and me. Alex drifted back and soon I was on my own. No problem. I enjoyed the morning's tailwind and was seeing an uncustomary average speed of 19.0 mph. Mile 32.5 was our first SAG stop of the day and I was pulling in there after just an hour and half of riding. After getting some food, purchasing a Nevada magnet for home, and checking in with my wife, Brad and I hit the road together. We took turns pulling and in good paceline fashion, covered the next 35 miles quickly.
A paceline is the only way to travel across this Nevada desert. But you have to know the rules and customs to do it right. Those of us used to pacelining have figured out quickly who knows what they're doing and who is still learning. Riders take turns riding at the front of a line while the others tuck behind and enjoy the slipstream created by the forward riders. After a few miles, the first rider pulls to the side, drops to the back, and the second in line takes a turn pulling. Other tasks the riders need to do is point out obstacles and hazards on the pavement. Brad and I cooperated in this and soon Judy, one of our ABB staffers, joined our line. She commented at our second SAG that she appreciated how we rode. Predictable, consistent, and communicating with each other.
At the second SAG, we had covered 67.7 miles and the day was wearing on me. I still had energy, but I was feeling road weary. The Nevada scenery had offered all it had to show and unlike California where there was something new around every corner, we had seen the same brown mountains, scrub brushes, and occasional salt flat. It was beautiful in its own special way. But, I realized why I slept through this part of the country during those family road trips as a kid!
At the second SAG, I devoured several oranges, cookies, and pretzels. Refilled the water bottles, and rested up for the last leg. Brad and I left with Leigh also joining us. The three of us made quick work of the ten last highway miles and then we left I-80 and got on a frontage road that would take us into Lovelock. Brad was having tire problems so he pulled off to add more air and Leigh and I pressed on. The last ten miles into town were tough. Not so much due to anything other than the monotony of the road and the increasing desire to get to the hotel. The most interesting moment was when Leigh spotted a coyote about 200 yards away along the railroad tracks running parallel to our frontage road. I may have seen a lizard running into the shrubs. Perhaps we'll see more wildlife tomorrow.
We finally rolled into Lovelock. The town was simple, but quaint. It brought back memories of National Lampoon's Family Vacation. Little motels and small shops with aging signage and weeds growing up around the buildings. We found our hotel at the end of the street running through town and I was grateful for the finish. We had covered 92 miles in under five hours. That's a good day's work, I say.
Tomorrow should prove to be more of the same. We'll get on I-80, ride 76 miles, and pull into our hotel in Winnemucca, NV. I'll keep an eye out for coyotes and lizards and help capture the Nevada desert experience for you!
For more photos from today including pictures of all that Nevada has to offer, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2/100105
For more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 440
Elev Gain: 1420 ft.
Max Elev: 4471 ft.
Avg Climb: 1%
Max Climb: 4%