Eureka to Austin - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

July 13, 2014

Eureka to Austin

Whole lotta nuttin' goin' on
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I CAN'T say I'm thrilled by Nevada. I'm too wedded to winding lanes through green fields, the sight of distant church towers and the joy of birdsong. Nevada is none of those. I see it as a state to ride through, endure even. And I wonder whether I would notice if I dozed off for half an hour. Or an hour. Or two hours. Would it look any different? I don't think it would.

Nevada is a dry land of gravel held in by low, flat-topped ridges that have the air of mountains without aspiring to be them. I came here knowing nothing and I'm beginning to think there's nothing to know. It had a whale of a time in the Wild West era and things bubbled when mines tugged silver from the land and excitable towns of men a-drinkin' and a-fightin' grew up around them. The history panels at intervals along the road tell the same tale: "Four miles from here lies the ghost town of Whatever, which once had 3 000 people and 82 bars and a newspaper and a dozen banks but which vanished within a month when the mine ran out."

The numbers may change but the story is the same. And the message is that Nevada was once the place but now has nothing worth mentioning.

And that's how it's seemed today: nothing worth mentioning. It's been hot under a cloudless sky and we've come close to drowning in the water we've had to down. We've both drunk more than we can carry, even with three large bottles on the bike and three more in our bags. I have new respect for people who cross true deserts.

The cowboy's last ride
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Well, we got to the top of the last climb and cork-screwed down the bends into Austin. The first café on the left was my salvation. Liver and onions with mashed potato, thick gravy and intravenous Pepsi.

I now have to make a note to myself. Seated at the neighbouring table were a bright-eyed couple I'd noticed outside in the street. The dusty bikes on the back of their car had been camouflaged for war in the Sahara. I can never resist talking with fellow cyclists. And their tale was that they had a friend, or had lost touch with a friend, who'd shown them pictures of himself in the 1936 Tour de France.

"We used to go for a ride with him each year," Steve said, "one mile for every year of his age. And he told us all about the Tour de France and showed us pictures of himself riding it, with tyres round his shoulders like they used to back then."

I think he said the name was Bert or Bill Buchanan and that he was British. I shall have to check. The only two Britons to ride the Tour before world war two were Charlie Holland and Bill Burl. The next team wasn't until the 1950s. So maybe it wasn't the Tour but some other race - not that you're likely to get that wrong. I'll check when I get home, because I'm intrigued.

I don't know what's going on but, the width of America, someone has been littering poles and branches with pink ribbon
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Today's ride: 112 km (70 miles)
Total: 5,434 km (3,375 miles)

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