I am alive. I know I am alive because I can feel the soreness in my legs, arms, neck, and lady bits. My SAT and I successfully completed our mini bike tour this weekend, powered by Hammer gels, many french fries, and Krispy Kreme donut holes. Despite the physical, emotional, and mental pain of this weekend, I have to admit that eating as much food as I could, junk or otherwise, was fun.
Official 2-day stats: 180 miles (290 km), 9193 ft of climbing (2800 m), many Joshua trees viewed, 4.5 hours to ride 37 miles (59.5 km) in 30mph (48km) headwind.
Now, the details. Dear readers, feel free to skip ahead or leave this page now.
Saturday November 15, 2014. Beautiful day without much wind. We left home at 7:30am, thinking that would be an early enough start. Of course, by mile 8.3, I got a flat tire, thanks to a little bitty cactus needle. SAT fixed the flat, but the new inner tube had a large hole in it as well. What to do now? We decided to head over to the nearest bike shop a mile away and buy some more tubes (it was 10 minutes to opening). Finally! After that hour delay, we were on our way to the M casino, our first stop. I decided early on that I would treat this day’s riding as a series of 5 little rides; that would be a lot more manageable, psychologically, than thinking of the 101 miles as one ride. Arrived at the Arco gas station beside the M casino at 10:28am and enjoyed a gel, fig bar, and some chocolate milk. I felt a bit tired at this point but wasn’t deterred (yet) by the miles coming up.
Next stop: the Shell station in Jean, NV for a stretch break. My neck and shoulders were screaming “stop!” We’ve hit 46.2 miles now and it was 12:02pm. In my voice notes on my phone, I said that I spoke too soon at the M casino when I said I was feeling good. Only a few miles after leaving the M, I felt like crud and stayed that way until arriving in Jean. But, I must press on. SAT was doing a great job in shielding me from wind, traffic, and my own perverse thoughts (most of the time); he was chipper and cheery and I thought I heard him singing a few times. Honestly, at this point, I felt like Grumpy Cat does:
Our lunch stop was Primm, NV and we arrived at 12:59pm, hitting 59.1 miles. Most of this segment was on the I-15, but it’s not as bad as it sounds because the shoulder is wide enough for 2 cyclists to ride side-by-side. Of course, having semi-trucks pass you is a bit disconcerting, but our little rearview mirrors (attached to our sunglasses) helped hugely in warning us of potential dangers.
During the ride to Primm, SAT shared a typical SAT-ism: “I like seeing all the cars and trucks. They’re like friends on the highway.” Uh….if they were really our friends, they’d pick us up and give us a ride. I must have been feeling particularly grumpy and hungry at that point!
In Primm, food options are limited and expensive since we are far from Vegas (i.e., civilization). Buyer beware. We ended up splitting a Subway and cookies (almost $9!) and refilled our bottles for the next leg. I remember feeling happy that we have less than halfway to go….tally ho!
Nipton, CA, our second-last stop, consists of a motel, general store, and cafe. Originally founded in 1905, its claim to fame is its location right on the edge of the Mohave National Preserve (which is beautiful, by the way). After an annoying climb that ended on the overpass/turn off of the I-15 on to Nipton Road, we arrived in Nipton at 3:04pm. The descent into Nipton after the overpass was fun; we saw beautiful desert and mountains all while speeding down red paved roads. After grabbing some chocolate at the store, we started the last leg of day one into Searchlight.
(Left: after the climb up to the overpass. Right: Nipton General Store.)
The last 20-ish miles into Searchlight were a challenge, because it was cold,(getting) dark, and it was the end of the day. There was another climb, which in hindsight, wasn’t too bad, but felt like it lasted forever at the time. (Sunset during the climb to Searchlight.)
Finally arrived in Searchlight around 5:30pm. Checked into the El Rey Motel — old, clean, friendly front desk lady — then walked over to McDonald’s for dinner (treated ourselves to the premium burgers). We pretty much inhaled our burgers. Another SAT quotable quote: “I really think you should have dessert tonight.” I didn’t argue.
Sunday November 16, 2014. The next morning came too soon. We heard the wind howling and were a little concerned about the implications of said wind. The high was 3C (37F). Cold. We wore everything we brought: wool base layer, jersey, sun sleeves, jacket, thick gloves, balaclava, headband, full thermal cycling pants, our “civilian” pants over the cycling pants. After another gourmet meal at McDonald’s (there are only 3 places to eat in Searchlight!), we hit the road. WOW. Normally, the 37 miles from Searchlight to the Railway Pass casino (our next stop) would only take about 2-2.5 hours, since a lot of it is downhill. It took us 4.5 hours due to the stupid strong headwind. That strong wind stirred up a dust storm that we had to wait out (only a minute). Ever wonder what it’s like to work harder going downhill than uphill? It is as dumb as it sounds. Kind of demoralizing. SAT did his best to provide a good wind block for me and yes folks, that there is true love. 😉 We reached the Railway Pass casino — I may have wept tears of joy internally — then decided to press on another few miles for lunch, since there was nothing that would accommodate bikes inside the casino. Del Taco was our lunch destination just off of Boulder Highway and it was glorious:
The rest of the way home was relatively uneventful, aside from me almost bonking the last 10 miles. BUT I DIDN’T CARE BECAUSE WE WERE ALMOST HOME. Upon walking inside my place and collapsing on my couch, I think my first words were: “It’s so nice in here….why did I ever leave?” SAT, on the other hand, was congratulating me and saying I should feel really accomplished. He also proclaimed that I have “real lasting power (endurance)….as long as I keep feeding you and watering you, you keep going!” I think I gave him the evil eye. He guffawed then shut up. That’s right, SAT, just keep your sadistic cycling thoughts to yourself.