A ride in the desert – the hard version ! Today I finally quit California, even if she tried very hard to make me stay. It’s been a very tough ride, but I entered Nevada, with Primm and it’s three casinos right at the state line. I crashed in the first one.
Greg warned me about it. There is a slope, going to Vegas, that is used for car testing. Well I saw it firsthand. It took me three hours to extract myself from the Baker dip. Yesterday when arriving (merrily and happily carried downhill with a tailwind), I barely noticed the way out. It’s indeed a very long, steady, uphill slope. I didn’t realize how much it was going up until I saw an “elevation 4000 feet” sign. That was more than 3000 feet / about 1km up over 20kms or so. A 4 or 5% grade, not so frightening, but I walked the last couple of miles as I was feeling all of my energy going down the drain (especially after my first short night on the trail, 4 hours instead of 8-9). Going so slow for so long is a test of the mind, much more than a physical one.
During this climb I was subject to the “everlasting hope” delusion, that the top you see is the end of the slope. Then you reach it, and it keeps on going. You see another top, and you feel like “ok this time this is the end”. But no. Still going up. 3000 feet up is three times the Big Sur, but on a much longer slope. That was the slowest day since the Big Sur (11mi/17km/h), right after the fastest one.
So I finally got Baker out of my sight, reached the top, and… What happens when you are at the top ? You see the next climb in the distance of course ! Apparently shorter, but still steep. The desert is supposed to be flat no ? It’s clearly not so around here, even if it keeps on being beautiful.
I forced myself on enjoying the way down, and the views, and finally cracking the 13mi/20km/h speed I had never passed up to now. At the bottom of the slope, and exactly halfway to Primm was a rest area.
I was already feeling in a biblical revelation, where you have to suffer long before you can maybe get a small reward (a snickers from a vending machine), when an Asian lady came up to me and offered compliments, a grape and a banana. She was going to see her kids in Vegas. I almost expected her to say “Go forth and plant these seeds in the desert, and lo ! They shall nourish your people for forty generations.” 🙂 For sure I was quite the attraction at the rest area – I haven’t seen a bike in a hundred miles.
The next slope was a bit easier and shorter, still, the top, aptly named Mt Pass, was at 4730 feet, or around 1600m. Or exactly 1600m higher than I expected to ride in the desert. But sometimes it’s better not to know in advance.
The first signs calling for a 10 miles downgrade were a blessing. But after a few minutes, the bike started wobbling like crazy : flat tire ! Apparent culprit : a staple. I avoided a lot of crap on shoulders, way more than you would believe, and I got beat by a stupid staple. A testament to the durability of the tire material. Anyway, I had everything needed for a replacement of the tube, and was back on the road in half an hour or so.
Of course now there was a strong headwind where a tailwind had been planned (but unseen) the whole day 🙂 But I returned to the plain north of the Mojave Preserve, always beautiful when you’re not suffering uphill, and saw Primm like an oasis in the desert, as well as three huge solar panel fields.
So I have an achievement of crossing a first state line, and a second one as I pooped in the desert 😀 Avoid DelTaco.