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This journal was typed at the Ely Gift Boutique courtesy of Donna. It was mailed on the Internet from the Copper Queen Casino, courtesy of Mark.

August 8, Friday
We had a busy day touring the city of San Francisco with Sue and Wes's Son, Jeremy. We caught Bart (the public transit system, not the trail) into town and revisited Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, Ghiradelli Square, etc. That evening we went to a local production of the play "Bye Bye Birdie". It was a really fun day.

August 9, Saturday
Wes, Susan, Jeremy, and we drove down to Fort Mason by San Francisco Bay and attended Sedge Thomson's "West Coast Live", a nationally broadcast radio show. He interviewed a couple of authors and we heard two musical groups. Another group from Washington DC, called "Capitol Steps", did some political satire skits and songs. They were hilarious. One of the show's standard features is for members of the audience to tell true and interesting stories of how they came to be at this broadcast. These are written on small cards. Ours was probably one of the most unusual and was selected and read. We received a nice round of applause from the audience. Next, we drove down the switchbacks of Lombard Street, rode through downtown, and then went home to chill out for the rest of the day.

August 10, Sunday
We caught Bart to Oakland to board Amtrak to Reno. We were able to just roll our bikes onto the Bart train but we each had a box with some of our gear balanced precariously on top of our back rack. When we got to Oakland we had to walk this contraption about a mile to the Amtrak station with Laurie dropping her box three times. At Amtrak we transferred our bikes to boxes, taking off the pedals and handlebars. We took a quick tour of Jack London Village but the train was on time so we couldn't linger.

Upon reaching Colfax, CA, we sat in the station for a while when they announced that a broken down freight train was ahead of us and we would be delayed until they could get a helper engine to come move it. The delay turned into two and a half hours so we arrived in Reno at 8:20 pm instead of the scheduled 5:45 pm. The train can be fun but when they have problems, you need to be mellow (like Bill). We did, however, see some fantastic scenery in the Sierras and we rode through Donner Pass. At the Reno station we unpacked our bikes, reloaded our bikes, and rode two blocks to Fitzgerald Casino for the night.

August 11, Monday
Tim Holmen, whom we met on-line as, lives in Reno and offered to help us when we reached Nevada. True to his word, he graciously agreed to pick us up at our hotel and ferry us and the bikes to Fort Churchill Road. Since we planned to ride paved roads through Nevada, we did not return to Hooten Well, but started our ride 12 miles west of there. In this way we could continue our trip east from a point we had previously ridden to.

On the road before 10 am, we pedaled north on Alternate US 95 to US 50 and headed east. We were pleased that the heat wave that passed through the area last week had dissipated and the temperatures were only in the high eighties.

Large Lake Lahontan looked like an oasis surrounded by only sagebrush and golden mountains. There were even three large waterfowl (geese?) swimming on the lake. We were able to make good time on the paved road so we reached Fallon by 2 pm even with a stop for Bill to get a haircut.

34.6 miles, 13.3 mph, 2 hours 35 minutes 3525 total miles biked

August 12, Tuesday
On the road to beat the heat by 6 am we started east on US 50. US 50 east of Fallon is nicknamed "The Loneliest Road in America". When Life Magazine coined that term in 1986, the writer had obviously never ridden on any of the roads traveled by the American Discovery Trail. Actually, there was quite a bit of traffic on it, at least by the standards we have developed over the past 5 months. We did a vehicle count for one half hour and counted about one car per minute, not very lonely in our book! In most places we had a good shoulder to ride on and everyone who passed us was pretty courteous about moving into the left lane when possible.

We had a few long but easy hills early in the morning and we reached Middlegate Station by 11:30 am. This was a stop on the Pony Express Route and the saloon looked almost that old — lots of character. Carolyn, the waitress, took good care of us and the Nevadans we were meeting were all very friendly and interested in our story. After lunch, we rode 14 more miles to Cold Springs Station, our intended destination. This place also has a lot of character and friendly people. Lisa makes a pretty tasty milkshake as Laurie had one and Bill drank two. After it cooled off, we pitched our tent and camped in one of their RV sites.

62.6 miles, 11.7 mph, 5 hours 19 minutes 3588 miles biked total

August 13, Wednesday
This had been one long trip and the miles and days are continue to wear on me (Laurie). I think one of the things I miss most is the feeling that there are others out here trying to do the same thing. Although we see people in towns and they are often curious about our trip, there is no one to commiserate with on the tough parts. We have seen no backpackers at all except on the Colorado Trail and the four miles of the Pacific Crest Trail that we traveled. We have seen no one touring on bicycles. I imagine the day will come when others will travel this trail and a community similar to those found on the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail will develop. But, to be one of the first on the Trail, has this isolation as one of its challenges. For now, I am enjoying seeing some cars while riding on US 50. Some wave or extend a "thumbs up" as we pedal across the vast sagebrush covered valleys interrupted only by mountain passes. We have been making a real effort to get started early here in Nevada. Any miles done after about 11 am are definitely hot and there is no shade in which to take a break. Our start this morning was delayed by a flat tire caused by a thorn. Our early miles went quickly but we were straggling by the time we reached Austin, which we had expected to be an easier day of only 50 miles. Given this, we knew we would have trouble with our 70 mile segment scheduled for tomorrow. So we went to the local bike shop and arranged for a shuttle of 6 miles over to the top of Bob Scott Summit. We then rode back to Austin so we could eliminate some of tomorrow's climb and mileage. Tomorrow morning, Rick is to pick us up at 5 am and take us back to Bob Scott Summit so we can ride east.

59.3 miles, 10.1 mph, 5 hours 51 minutes 3648 total miles biked

August 14, Thursday
Rick Crawford, the owner of Tyrannosaurus Rix Mountain Bike Shop, picked us up and took us to Bob Scott Summit before dawn. Although he has been in business only a year he is doing much to promote mountain biking in this area and has organized a race for later this month. He had not returned from Las Vegas to get supplies for this race until 1:30 am but he still would not take any money for getting up so early this morning to shuttle us.

It seems that the people in these small Nevada towns are used to travelling long distances. When we asked at a small general/grocery store where the people in Austin do their grocery shopping, we were told they must drive 110 miles to Fallon.

Our biking days in Nevada have fallen into a routine. On the road before dawn, we shed our longsleeve shirts about 20 minutes after sunrise. By 8 am we are ready for a mid-morning snack. At 9 am, we lather up with sunblock. At 10 am we put on our neck coolers and by 11 am we are drinking our electrolyte solution — Hydra Fuel. We try to be through biking by noon. Even though the afternoon sun is intense, we are surprised that hardly any building in these high desert towns is air conditioned. Even in the afternoon, it is fairly cool in the shade and since the nights are distinctly cool, 50 degrees, there is no need for it.

There has been a major change in our riding here in Nevada. Laurie is now able to keep up with Bill. At first Laurie thought Bill was getting mellow and slowing down for her. But, he assured her he was not. So the reason appears to be Laurie's new tires. Before leaving California she got two new slick tires on her bike, since we knew we would be riding mostly on pavement and we shipped her knobbier tires home. It seems to be making a real difference. :-))

We spent the night in Eureka, an old mining town which is enjoying a new influx of money due to some recent gold strikes. The town is using some of its new wealth to restore it's historic buildings.

63.5 miles, 13.4 mph, 4 hours 42 min 3711 miles total biked

August 15, Friday
The 77 mile stretch between Eureka and Ely looked very intimidating to us with its four mountain passes to cross with no towns, stores, or water sources in between, except for an RV park 15 miles east of Eureka. Bill learned there was a ranch next to the highway at the 45 mile mark which would provide a perfect place to break this section into two days. He was able to call the ranch last night and received assurance we could camp there and get water. Still, this left us with three passes to cross with more than 3,000 feet elevation gain.

We were on the road by 5 am, well before sunrise, but with the faint glow, we could see the road. We immediately climbed 800 feet over Pinto Summit and then coasted 8 miles to the RV park which wasn't open yet. Next, Bill got another puncture in his tire (our third flat in as many days) and he replaced the tube and used duct tape on the tire. The climb over Pancake Summit was a breeze and we didn't have to walk any of it. Little Antelope Summit was a bit more difficult but then we coasted 8 miles down a rugged canyon and turned into the Moorman Ranch. Kathy Neal greeted us and offered to let us stay in their guest house. We couldn't believe our good fortune. It was a totally furnished two bedroom house with a washing machine even.

Later, Kathy and husband Jack and daughter Candy and we took a 30 mile ride in their 4 wheel drive pickup truck into the mountains to deliver ten 50 pound salt blocks to various places for their cattle. The Neals manage 300 square miles of land, mostly of it Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. 85% of the land in Nevada is owned by the federal government (BLM, Forest Service, Military).

This was a totally awesome ride. We rode past rugged rocky canyons, up really steep hills, and ended up on top of a 9,000 foot mountain with views in every direction. We saw a coyote, several deer, and eight wild horses.

When we returned to the ranch, they invited us to dinner. In talking with the Neals, they said their nearest neighbors lived 30 miles away. We also got a rancher's perspective of the BLM, Forest Service, and environmentalists. It seems everyone we have met in the West shares similar views. The wonderful hospitality made this an outstanding stop and we were glad we decided not to try for the full 77 miles today.

45.9 miles, 11 mph, 4 hours 9 minutes 3758 total miles biked

August 16, Saturday
It felt luxurious sleeping in until 5:20 am this morning due to our planned shorter day. We had to tackle only one pass before passing Ruth, the site of Nevada's largest copper mine, and then entering Ely. A stop at the Post Office brought us our mail from home and some bills to pay. Yes, even out here we have to deal with paying bills. We plan a day off in Ely before finishing Nevada. Searching for a computer to write our journal, we found a local gift shop and the owner was willing to let us use her computer.

39.4 miles, 11.2 mph, 3 hours 32 minutes, 3796 miles total biked

© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1997, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet

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