To Sacramento Pass 106km
To Robinson Pass 108km
To Eureka Nevada 103km
To Austin Nevada 114km
In Western Utah and Eastern Nevada there are a series of ridges running North/South between 6000 and 8000 feet, with huge basins, also running north/south, between them. Our route takes us across these ridges and basins....... and it's amazing, tough, spectacular, huge, and hot, and there aren't too many people out here.
We have about eleven of these ridges to climb altogether, and so far we've conquered six. Woohoo. Over half way. Each is different, but the toughest are those with long straight roads. Coming down off one ridge we can see the road disappearing across the valley. For eight kms we speed downhill at 60 kph. For eight kms we fight along the flat into a head wind at 16 kph. Then for the next eight kms we grind uphill at 6 kph. And there's so little in the valleys. One had a group of farm buildings nestled behind some trees, away off in the distance. Another had a "Fern" of 60 wind turbines. One basin had a lone horse. We see very few animals, but are warned they are out there.
The biggest challenge, after the grueling uphills, is having enough water. Between Hannah and I we are carrying over 20l of fluid, and we keep running out. We made it to a "town" yesterday, with half a litre between us. The town consisted of a bunch of run down houses, and a Post Office, which, fortunately, was open. The Post Mistress poured us a couple of litres each out of her gallon jar, which she brings from home each day. The PO has no running water. Then we got to hear the history of the town, and everyone who had lived there for the last 30 years. I think the Post Mistress needed someone to talk to.
We've made a sign. "Water Please". We strap it to the back of Hannahs bike. It works. People stop. A guy who has just been cycling the Divide route filled our bottles, with glorious cold fresh water.
We are starting cycling early, at first light, and trying to get to a 'town" by midday. If there is anywhere to do so, we buy a meal, then we find, if we can, a shady spot and rest, nap, snooze, for an hour or two, hoping that it will cool down. About 4pm, we cycle again, into the hills, trying to get a bit of altitude, where hopefully, it might be cooler to sleep. It's working so far......
We're still meeting locals. The school caretaker in one town had lots of advice..... watch for deer on the way down from Sacramento Pass, and Elk after Austin Pass. The panel beaters in this area are making a fortune from vehicles messing with animals. He also told me he has for many years been a track and cross country coach, using Arthur Lydiards methods of training.
Some folk are really friendly and generous, but amazingly, some of the shop and cafe owners are pretty grumpy. They don't seem too happy that we have come to spend our money. Hmmmm. Sorry to put you out guys....
In Eureka we were invited to a "party". The local school rock band was playing in the street, to welcome a bunch of Balloonists. They weren't too bad, especially the Beatles set. Had me singing, and swinging. (I'm missing my "Band" time. Can't wait to mix it with "Test of Time" again). We got chatting to one of the balloonists, and invited on a flight, but the next morning was a bit windy.
Hannah is a gem. Always has a smile. I haven't heard her complain once, and she has every right to, as the road is tough going. When a vehicle passes you, you can watch it shrink to a dot, and then disappear completely, and you know it hasn't gone around a corner, because you can see the road going straight, uphill, beyond where the vehicle disappears. (How far is that Tim's?) It's tortuous, brain numbing, character testing stuff, and Hannah is passing with honours. I'm very lucky to have her along as company. Youth at its best, (and she's pretty).
As for me...... My clothes are so encrusted with salt from my sweating, that they could stand up alone. My lips are soooo very sore. Either wind burn or sunburn, even though I've been layering them with lip balm. The salt on chips stings them. Trying to bite into a sandwich hurts.... damn. I have a huge blister in my groin. Makes it very uncomfortable to cycle. Don't even imagine how I'm going to solve that one, or who I'm going to enlist to help..... My calves are so, so close to cramping up all day. I can feel them twinging at every pedal stroke. They wake me in the mornings when I stretch ......oowww. And that despite drinking lots of electrolyte. When I climb, my mouth gets absolutely desert dry. Not a drop of saliva. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. I can't eat anything without drinking fluid at the same time. Maybe I'm drinking too much electrolyte? Damn. I'm feeling like an old crock.
But wait. Is Hannah finally flagging? I'm sure she's in Grannie gear, and slowing. Damn. I can't really see. She's too far out in front.
We reckon nine more days cycling to San Franscisco.