Thursday, August 13

Nevada's Terrain and the Difficulties Therein: That is, How Not to Die

As I think I have said, Nevada's riding terrain was mountain range, followed by valley, followed by mountain range followed by valley. Like the back of my shampoo bottle: Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Ok, so maybe there wasn't much lathering or rinsing, but the idea is that it was a cycle. Long stretches of road were placed between mountain ranges that reached into the 9000s. The air was clean and visibility allowed for great views. From the top of the ranges, you could easily see the next range, and the distance between seemed small enough, though when a car passed, you could still see it on the flat stretch 20 minutes later. Basically, desolation.
So I get a lot of questions about my time in Nevada, specifically questions regarding how I survived the desert. Now, since I had never biked a desert before, I really didn't know what I was doing. But, like all things, I pieced together what I did know about both riding and deserts to come up with my plan.
Using the knowledge that I had gained in the 3000 miles I had just traveled and my grade school knowledge of deserts (thanks Mrs. Callahan!) I'd say the two issues that concerned me most were high temperatures and lack of water due to lack of services. So in order to plan for my time on US 50 then, the Loneliest Road in America, I decided I would carry more water than usual.
Now, I had found that I could get 20 miles on each water bottle that I carried so I used that to determine how much water I needed to haul. I could have just loaded the water nonchalantly, but who wants to carry more water than they need? So in my gallon jug I had bought for the long ride into Hanksville, UT, I planned to use the little math skills I possessed and measure 140 miles worth of water for my first day in the desert.
Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't far off; but like most things, nothing goes as expected. And I think there's a proper word for the experience, in fact, synergy comes to mind, but I could still be wrong.
Basically, filling my bottles, I counted my milage into the gallon jug - 20, 40, 60, 80, 100 miles in the gallon jug with another 40 miles in the water bottles. On paper, I could make it the 140 miles. However, in my experience, I suppose I didn't realize that higher temperatures would probably equate into a larger need for water. Further, I also forgot to calculate the water I usually drink in between the 20 miles, while stopped at the gas stations or restaurants. So too make a long story short, I ran out of water about 20 miles outside of the day's final destination.
Thankfully, I was also riding with Jordan, Mike, and Jeremy (from San Diego, CA) who didn't mind to carrying more water than they needed, I suppose because they knew it didn't really matter what one thought they needed. Moral of the story - When in a desert, carry lots of water; more than you think you need even. That and ride in packs. Four minds are better than one.
Truly, this was hot.

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