If you’re in a hurry, here’s the photo essay version of the whole adventure (well, minus the parts where it was dark) HERE.
RACE DAY! The few bleary eyed casino patrons don’t look up from their machines. I’m not sure if they got up before us or never went to bed. I have no idea what the attraction is for doing what they are doing, they’d probably say the same thing about what we’re about to do.
Susan and Dan tend to some final set-up with the van, Sherry and I head over to the start. There’s a touch of chill in the air, but the sun is on its way up, Sherry will be riding (and soon climbing), and I’ll be getting in a climate controlled vehicle so we deal with it. The multitudes assemble, some ‘howdys’ and ‘good luck’ to other racers and crew that I know. The Red Racer, Sherry’s classic ride, attracts attention and discussion.
Although he’s not riding this year, the Pudu is there, and has a HelloKittyphant for me. *It’s got two sets of eyes! he says, and mumbles about how long it took him to win it (out of one of those claw machines, apparently.) It’s so cute and unexpectedly sweet it sorta chokes me up. In a good way – as opposed to the usual being around Jason making me want to cry in the bad way. We joke with Sherry about the possible uses of the Kittyphant as motivation. Or a seat cushion.
Some last minute words from Chris Kostman, and oh wait gotta Instagram the start then they’re off! The riders and support take different routes out of Reno, the listed directions have us following the same route as the ride outside of Reno, but first contact isn’t allowed until mile 29.5 on the course. At first we follow some other support vehicles, but they choose to go by the freeway, we go by the book and see what Sherry will be climbing up Geiger Grade and passing through Virginia City and Six Mile Canyon.
Great views from Geiger Grade back over Reno. Ah yes, when will we be seeing you again? There’s a photographer staked out in a pullout. He can see a good stretch of the road below so will have plenty of advance notice that riders are coming.
Virginia City has the old timey western town thing going on, but we’re too early for anything to be open. Probably just as well, I don’t really need any more ice cream or pointy boots. There’s also going to be outhouse races later in the day. I’m still not quite sure what that consists of.
It’s a beautiful morning, and Six Mile Canyon is quite scenic, with bits of fall color, but with the twisty narrow road I can see why Chris doesn’t want people stopping in this section. We get down to the flats and there are clusters of vans parked all along the road. This must be mile 29.5, with the turn on to Highway 50 just up ahead. We find a spot and join the festivities.
More cowbell! as racers go by. Doh! I knew we forgot something. Oh maybe there’s a cowbell app. Hmn. Susan manages to borrow a real one from another crew. We try to guesstimate when Sherry will arrive. One person stops and switches to a different bike. Whoa. Serious. Others stop to shed layers or resupply. Some do the rolling restock. Someone on the Super Tabby team gets in their mascot outfit. Some of the crews have binoculars for spotting their rider in the distance. Ah, something else we didn’t think of. It would have been nice, to check out the scenery as well, but we were just fine without them too.
Get Sherry taken care of when she arrives and then… the feeling is oh we’ve got to get going. But to where? In the van we can go faster than her, so there’s no particular rush. Chat with some other crews, then OK we’re going to be waiting somewhere, may as well get down the road.
Onto Highway 50 now. Straight and flat. Well, not completely, but long stretches. Off into the distance. Some up and down, but nothing that can really be called a climb. We find a spot to pull off, a side road leading to an airport. There’s an event there, someone comes out to chat with us for a bit. They have that curious/incredulous reaction about the whole thing. *Riding bikes to Eureka? From Reno? Yes. and back.
Just down the road is Time Station 1 at Silver Springs. The book had suggested not stopping between the first contact point and TS1, but I was kinda glad we had already, since there was still a big crowd of crew vehicles at the time station. One in front of us just stops right in the traffic lane to let someone get out. It was after the stop sign, so we weren’t going too fast, but still, c’mon people.
TIME STATION 1, Mile 47.65: +3:18
Continue on the expanse of Highway 50, long straightaways across the basin of an ancient ocean, passing the vestigial Lake Lohonton. Still seeing other riders and crews on a fairly regular basis.
Start to find a rhythm of how often to stop – Sherry goes on long, self-supported rides and doesn’t want to be bothered too often, but it is a 500+ mile ride. She has six food choices, target calories for an hour, we’re to rotate through them unless she requests something in particular. We keep track of what she gets when.
Pass her. Note the time and distance, go ahead number of miles she’ll cover in the time til next check in. Find a place to pull over. Wait. Get ready with items if it’s a feed and water hand off time. Upload items when she comes by. Put it on the chart. Wait until she’s a ways ahead again. Repeat.
Fallon coming up. The place to go hunting and gathering, what do we need? Start a list.
There’s a veer right on the route description, Dan wants to be sure Sherry makes it, so we stop and he gets out to direct her. Turns out to be pretty obvious, but better safe than sorry. It’s very sweet how excited Dan is about his big sister’s adventure and how much he wants to help her succeed this time.
Whoa! GREEN fields. Irrigation… <insert lengthy commentary on water usage, drought, etc. here> The town sign welcoming us to Fallon notes it as “The Oasis of Nevada.” How much of a claim to fame is that?
Lots of the roadside signs as we approach town have a religious bent. Or maybe those are just the ones that catch my eye, as I don’t seem to see so many in my usual stomping grounds. A big cross with RU READY, and another that says Trust Jesus.
Surreal moment in a surreal weekend – Wal-Mart shopping in Fallon, Nevada… somehow miss the people with puppies for sale in front of the store though.
Eastbound the time station is actually a bit past town, we make sure Sherry was checked in and roll on down the road.
TIME STATION 2, Mile 79.00: +5:10