Day Eight: Big Pine, California to Goldfield, Nevada - "Vibes" - CycleBlaze

From "Vibes"

By Jeff Lee

June 22, 2024

Day Eight: Big Pine, California to Goldfield, Nevada

The Nyquil last night worked. For the first time in days, I was able to sleep through the night without the coughing fits.

I was worried about my ability to do today's route. It would be about 100 miles to the semi-ghost town of Goldfield, Nevada, where I'd reserved, on Airbnb, some sort of repurposed old cabin from the gold rush era.

It was basically an entire long day without services of any kind, including water, and there were four big climbs, including one at the end of the day. I spent some time after I got up this morning trying to arrange a way to carry enough water. I ended up with my three usual bike water bottles, a two-liter that previously held the 7 Up that I purchased yesterday, the two 1.5 liter bottles that Morri had give me for the first day, and a 1 liter bottle that previously contained Diet Pepsi.

When I'd arrived the afternoon before, I'd met a cyclist who'd just finished a day ride on one of these "step cycle" "bikes". He told me he was a former runner who used this contraption now, and on today's ride had gained 6,500 feet elevation. I told him what I was doing on my trip, and very early this morning, when I wheeled the bike outside the room, he emerged from the room next door to wish me luck, and also to take my picture.

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Morri NashIt looks like that jersey is fitting you better than when you left Morro Bay 😜.
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4 weeks ago
Jeff LeeTo Morri NashHaha, thanks. I've lost enough chub now that it fits right.
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3 weeks ago

It was pleasantly cool so early in the morning. I rode through town and turned left into the Inyo National Forest on CA-168, which was a reputed to be a very quiet, very remote road with no services at all.

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Dyer was on a different road, off my route, so Goldfield, my destination for the day, was the next place with any services.
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The short flat section before the climbing began.
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The first big climb of the day started almost immediately. It was steep. A few vehicles passed me early on, but then it became quieter. Near the top, a sign warned that the road was narrowing. I was surprised just how narrow the brief section, cut through rock, actually was. A sign soon after I turned onto CA-168 from Big Pine had warned of a "single lane" road ahead, which I thought was surely an exaggeration. But this short section really was narrow.

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The highway briefly became very narrow near the summit.
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I reached the summit, Westgard Pass, and rode some flat miles through an interesting area called the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. These are apparently the oldest trees on earth.

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I coasted down and then rode several flat miles in a valley. It was hot now, and I realized I'd been been drinking a lot more of my water than I'd anticipated. At mile 27, I stopped for some cattle who'd entered the road, looked to my left, and noticed that I was in front of the entrance to Deeps Springs College and Ranch. This is an extremely unusual private junior college whose enrollment is restricted to only about 30 students a year. Long before I had the idea of this trip, Joy and I had talked about the college. As I recall, she was doing a job search, and we jokingly talked about this tiny college being a possibility.

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I turned down the road to the college/ranch. Maybe someone would be there who could give me water. After almost a mile I reached a gate. Signs warned that the college was private property, and that unless I was an invited guest, I should turn back now. But there was an exception for "Emergencies". In that case, I was allowed to enter to seek help. I pondered this for a while. Was using more of my water than I'd anticipated an emergency? No, but it would probably become an emergency at some point.

While I stood there, I saw a man riding an ATV in a nearby field. I held up my water bottle and waved it, and he turned and rode toward me. It was the ranch manager, Tim Gipson. He drove me and my nearly-empty 2 liter bottle to his home on the campus, filled it up with water from the sink, then handed me an ice cold Gatorade and drove me back, after a brief, pleasant conversation.

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After that I quickly started the second of the four climbs of the day. This one was hotter and drier. I eventually reached the top, Gilbert Pass, and coasted down.

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I was in a dry, flat valley for a long while. I spotted some trees in the distance, and eventually reached them. They were part of a ranch/farm that abutted the road. I pulled over and took a long break. While looking the bike over, I noticed a sharp metal tire wire sticking out of my front tire. I'm sure I'd ridden over thousands of shredded tire fragments on the shoulders of the roads in recent days. One of the wires had finally found my tire. Fortunately, the sealant-filled tubes had done their job. I hadn't lost any noticeable amount of air. I couldn't pull the wire out with my hands, so I rummaged around in my tool bag and eventually found my pliers to take care of it.

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I hated to leave the rare shade, but eventually I got back on the road. I entered Nevada.

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I started the third big climb of the day, to Lida Pass. This was a much more gradual climb than the previous two. Until the very end, the steepest part, anyway.

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When I reached the summit sign, I was feeling some intestinal distress. I had a long way to go the cabin I'd rented in Goldfield. There were no services for the hours of riding to Goldfield. So I left the bike leaning against the summit sign and walked off the road into a stand of short trees. Unfortunately, I have to be in the right frame of mind to accomplish doing this particular business "in the woods" as they say, and I wasn't successful this time.

It was a long, long coast down from Lida Summit. Now I rode on a flat ribbon of asphalt in the desert for miles. I was speeding along in the big ring, and felt good.

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At about 4 miles until I turned off the empty highway onto US-95 for the last fifteen uphill miles of the day, I was pulled off on the gravel shoulder, trying to drink some of my disgustingly hot water, when a sheriff's car pulled in behind me. The deputy was polite enough, and asked if I was alright, but I suspected he  initially thought I was homeless, and not a middle class guy on a vacation. The stack of soda pop bottles haphazardly strapped on the rack, and my scruffy beard might have contributed to his initial impression, but I was quickly able to convey that I was tax paying citizen. He asked if I had enough water. I decided to be bold: "Sure - although what I have is horribly hot; you wouldn't have a colder bottle, would you?" He did actually, and gave it to me, before telling me to call the Sheriff's department if I had any trouble while in the county.

I rode four miles and turned onto the busy US-95. Fortunately it had a good, wide shoulder. Alter first I continued to feel good. Surely I could make it fifteen more miles to Goldfield.

But then with about ten miles to go, it hit: The Bonk. And it was so very unpropitious, since it was going to be uphill almost all the rest of the way to Goldfield - the fourth big climb of the day.

I forced myself to take sips of the disgusting hot water that remained. I chewed on a king-size Payday bar I had in my handlebar bag. I could literally barely swallow any of it. It felt like chewing on sawdust. As I write this, I never, ever want to eat a Payday bar again.

With five miles to go, the situation was dire, and the sun was going down. I resorted to everything in my small bag of tricks for when the Bonk happens: I got off and walked the bike for a while. I pedaled a few fast strokes, and then switched to a "side saddle" position and coasted for several seconds (a technique which doesn't help much on an uphill.) I adopted a slouching, limp posture on the bike, trying to relax every muscle except those in my legs. What I really wanted to do was stop and lie down on the side of the road, but I didn't have enough time for that now, with the sun going down.

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Finally I made it to the Goldfield summit, and coasted down into the decrepit old mining town. 

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I found my Airbnb, an old cabin called "The Crib", took the fastest shower in memory, swigged some Nyquil, and was in bed and asleep in record time.

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Today's ride: 100 miles (161 km)
Total: 518 miles (834 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 16
Comment on this entry Comment 12
John EganWhat a handsome devil!
A bit geeky, but handsome nonetheless.
Can't wait for the full photo spread.
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4 weeks ago
Jeff LeeTo John EganHeh, I didn't mean to make this page public yet. I don't think that's a good pic of me.

Did you see my comment to you asking if I can filter the water (for drinking) at Warm Springs?
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4 weeks ago
John EganJeff - Are you up for two 84-ish mile days to get to Ely?
The place to stop is Blue Jay - not Warm Springs.
Blue Jay has a tiny rest area with one tree and picnic tables.
BUT there is also a Nevada DOT work station right there.
Chris and I got water there. And tomorrow is Monday -
so if the crew went back "home" for the weekend,
they should be back from Ely and at Blue Jay.

PS - We never like our own pix. I think it's fun.
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4 weeks ago
John EganTo John EganPPS -
Coming into Warm Springs from the west,
there is a whale of a downhill.
Perfect gradient, straight, high-speed.
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4 weeks ago
John EganI lied. It's only 65 miles to Blue Jay.
Then 100+ to Ely. But 100 miles for you -
is a pleasure outing.
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4 weeks ago
Jeff LeeTo John EganCan I safely camp at the Blue Jay rest area though? Is that what you did before? It seems very visible from the road.

I thought you told me that you did stop at Warm Springs, and got in the pool, right? But then I guess you rode on to Blue Jay?

I'd really like to know if I can filter water at Warm Springs just in case - did you do that?
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4 weeks ago
John EganHave a safe and enjoyable ride to Ely.
You are truly in the Big Empty.
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3 weeks ago
Toni Romp-FriesenType your comment here
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3 weeks ago
Toni Romp-FriesenTo Toni Romp-FriesenJeff, I generally don't like reading people's bike blogs, but I do yours! It's almost like having a conversation with you, except only one of us is talking. And I love all the quirky things you take photos of. And I love the one of you in your TransAm jersey, and the Kona Brewpub Longboard jersey. Good luck on your trip, and I wish I could keep up--it would be fun to join you on a trip since Wil doesn't ride a bike on the road anymore (worsening eyesight!) Aloha from the Friesens!
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3 weeks ago
Jeff LeeTo Toni Romp-FriesenThanks, Toni!
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3 weeks ago
Gregory GarceauHi Jeff. I've been anticipating your tour, but I started a short tour at the same time as you started yours. When I'm on the road, I have a hard time keeping up with my own journal much less other Cycleblazer's journals. Now that I've finished reading the California portion of "Vibes," all I can say is WOW!

Not because I'm surprised you can do those mileages. (I still remember your 300-mile days.) Not because you can take so many fine pictures during those miles. Not because you have no fear of big climbs and long stretches with few services. Not even because you overcome all that crap and STILL manage to keep up a journal.

But the fact you accomplished all of the above with such a horrible chest cold is pretty amazing. If I had been reading in real time, I would have told you to visit a doctor and get some antibiotics, which is what a friend texted me to do while on my tour from Las Vegas to Phoenix. He was concerned when he read that I was coughing so hard I thought I was going to throw up. I ignored his advice, just I assume you'd have ignored mine.

I'll try to catch up on the rest of your journal in the next couple days. Looking at the posts ahead, I'm assuming you've gotten through the coughing fits, with or without antibiotics.
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3 weeks ago
Jeff LeeTo Gregory GarceauThanks for the kind words, Greg.

The cold is mostly gone, except for occasional bouts of coughing.

I have to admit that those long, empty dry sections in California and Nevada were challenging, especially with a cold.

I'm looking forward to the Plains and the Midwest, assuming I get that far. Work-related stress has unfortunately encroached the last day or so.
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3 weeks ago