Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day 7 - Lovelock, NV to Winnemucca, NV

"He sends rain on the just and on the unjust..." (Matthew 5:45) Here we are in the Great Basin of the Nevada desert, where the annual rainfall is about 8 inches. This stretch of Interstate 80 usually sees temperatures in the 90s this time of year. But not today. When we came back to the hotel after dinner in Lovelock, thunderstorms were moving in. Flashes of lightning appeared in the sky and thunder rolled across the basin. The rain came. When we awoke at 6:00 a.m. this morning, it was still raining. All the cyclists were putting on their best rain gear and preparing for a wet day.

Being from Seattle, riding in the rain is no big deal. I don't enjoy it. But, I've done it enough that I know what to expect. No matter how much clothing you put on, if you spend enough time in the rain, everything eventually gets wet. And once you're fully wet, you really can't get any wetter. My roommate from London looked outside and echoed my sentiment... it felt like home.

We biked to breakfast at the Cowpoke Cafe a half mile down the road and enjoyed a big farmhouse breakfast replete with hotcakes, bacon, sausage patties, muffins, fresh fruit, juice, and black coffee. After fueling up, we hit the road. Today's route was more pleasant than the 5 straight hours on Interstate 80 yesterday. Our first 25 miles took us along rural, tree-lined roads (isn't everything rural out here?) We passed cattle ranges, small homes surrounded by rusted tractors and farm implements, and wide open spaces of shrubs and sagebrush. We saw our first rattlesnake roadkill. I stopped and took a picture. Might not document all the roadkill I see, but this was worth a photo.

An Amtrak train went under us while on an overpass. The passengers dry and resting comfortably, I'm sure. We met our first tunnel, albeit, a very short one, when we rode under I-80. A flurry of birds scattered out of the graffiti-covered tunnel as soon as we rolled through. The roads were empty today. I was riding with Chris, a 50+ gentleman from Columbus, OH, and with Sean from London, and Brad from Ohio, for a little while as well. Sean took the liberty to ride on the left hand side of the road since traffic was non-existent. "It's raining and I'm on the left-hand side of the road. Just like London," he smiled.

We reached our first SAG stop at 24.5 miles. The rain had stopped, but as we pulled in, it began again. Great. Right as we're getting on I-80. We'll get soaked by all those big rigs flying past, kicking up water in our faces. Oh well, as I said, once you're wet, you really can't get any wetter!

I got on I-80 and pretty much was riding alone. I was pleased too find out that most of the semi trucks were courteous and moving to the fast lane before speeding past us. Guess those truckers have a heart. The water was really just a light spray when they passed. And you got a nice push from their blast of wind. Fortunately, I-80 was once again flat and we had a wonderful tailwind, so the miles went by quickly. After 16 miles, we exited the Interstate and rode 5 more miles on a frontage road. I was feeling tired. Not physically exhausted, just sleepy, actually. So I pulled out my iPhone and turned on something to keep me awake. The Dave Ramsey Show. All alone in the Nevada dessert and I'm listening to financially-focused talk radio. Seems about right.

I reached the second SAG stop and the rain was barely falling, but I was soaked and ready to warm up. I quickly stopped by the America by Bicycle van and trailer, checked in, then went inside the truck stop to join three other cyclists dining inside. A grilled cheese sandwich, cup of soup, and black coffee re-warmed me and gave me the needed energy to tackle the remaining 30 miles.

Leaving the SAG, the sun was shining, but as I looked east on the horizon, I saw angry black clouds. Well, I guess tornadoes would be next. Fortunately, we saw no tornadoes, but the rain sporadically fell once again while I biked in I-80 for another short 17 mile section. I saw a cyclist coming up behind me. It was Chris. He flew past after saying hello and kept it in high gear to evade the rain. I plugged along and soon found our exit of the Interstate.

Just 9 more miles and I'll be in Winnemucca. I picked up my pace and saw signs that the town was nearby. Big billboards announced the hotels available at the next exit as well as all the usual fast food stops. I passed a gas station that was overgrown with weeds and brush. It probably hadn't fueled a vehicle in at least 20 years. Where I come from, developable land is valuable. This site would have been demolished and condos would have been built in its place. No sense in tearing it down out here. Just let it sit.

Now I was in Winnemucca. The rain was still coming down when I stopped for a photo at the big lighted sign announcing the town. The hotel was just up the street. Ahh, how good will a shower feel! When we pulled into the hotel and I walked inside, I saw half of our riders sitting by the fireplace, still in their cycling clothes. The rooms weren't ready. I guess the shower will have to wait.

Tomorrow is "sleep in day." Our ride is a short one, just 55 miles to Battle Mountain, NV. Hopefully the weather will be better. But if it does rain, at least we won't be out in it very long. Of course, this mid-50s weather is probably far better than the 90-100 degrees they typically have!

For more photos of me in the rain and large trucks blasting by, visit

For more information about the Ride for Impact, visit

Dist: 75.25
Time: 4:24:50
Avg: 17.0
Max: 37.0
Cumulative Miles: 515
Elev Gain: 1441 ft.
Max Elev: 4485 ft.
Avg Climb: 1%
Max Climb: 7%

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