Monday, June 9, 2008

Booms, Blizzards and Boredom (days 5 thru 8)

First off, sorry for the delay since our last post but there’s not much for internet access in the Great Basin area of Nevada…

If the title of this entry is any indication, we’ve seen a lot of things riding through Nevada, including nothing! In the past few days we’ve been hammering away on the pedals trying to make as much progress (while we have Ben in the support van) as possible. We made it all the way to Cedar City, Utah by end of day today, but we had to cross Nevada on US-50, aka the “loneliest highway in America” first.

Although the highway was eerie because it was so lonely, we had a fun and challenging time climbing up the snow-covered mountains, descending into the vast Great Basin. (A quick aside to explain this Great Basin thing for those of you who are not familiar with the topography of Northern Nevada: The Great Basin is a geological formation unique to this area that consists of dozens and dozens of parallel mountain ranges punctuated by 15-25 miles wide valleys. These Valleys become incredibly redundant after the first four or so. After a while, one begins to feel as if they are riding in circles). The valleys were so deceivingly massive that you could hear cars coming before you could see them several miles away. In the distance the heat on the road made illusions so it seemed the roadway just ended and if you kept riding you would ride off the end of the earth. Oh yeah, and tumbleweed actually does roll across the road sometimes, just like in the movies.

As for the “booms”…there are several Navy bases throughout the state and sometimes we would be riding along and suddenly hear massive explosion-like sounds. The first time we heard one was near the top of a mountain and we were convinced someone shooting at us with a howitzer. It only took a few seconds to realize that they were sonic booms from the fighter pilots practicing in the valleys – pretty cool.

As for the blizzards…to make a long story short, some pretty ominous clouds showed up shortly after lunch on the summit of one of our many mountains but we decided to ride through it and see what happens. Within minutes we were getting drilled with a pretty nasty hail/snow mix. Descending from the mountain was rather painful (wind driven snow/ice to face contact) and we made it about one mile in the storm before we pulled over and piled into the van for shelter. Riding any further in the storm would have been unsafe due to the lack of visibility and slippery conditions.

And the boredom…we certainly kept ourselves laughing while pedaling, but there were times when we truly understood why US-50 is the loneliest highway in America. However, there were some very nice people who appreciated our audacious fundraising campaign and some of them even put us up in their motels for free, which was nice. Others simply could not comprehend why we would ride so far. In fact, when I told one woman we were riding to Massachusetts, she replied “as in, like, the state? You guys are nuts.” Yes, we are nuts, but we’re lovin’ every minute of it.

Now for a much needed rest in Cedar City, Utah – mountain time, finally!


Arthur Schneider said...

Enjoy your ride in Utah!
Proud of you!

The Edells said...

Jus Jamie and Ben;
If it makes a difference it has been 97 in Larchmont for 5 days with no let up expected soon. Your blogs are hysterical and your trip sounds amazing. We are cheering for you.
David and Marsha

Kate said...
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