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Published: September 26th 2005
11/09/05 Mountain Springs
We set off later than planned after an unscheduled lie-in, and headed up the 160 towards Mountain Springs. Progress was very slow, with a head/side wind all the way and 23 miles of unremitting up. The average slope was probably around 1 in 40 or 50, but there was no level and no down.
About 4 miles from Mountain Springs Clare's hip started to play up, sending shooting pains up her back; we had to dismount and walk as she couldn't pedal any more. We reached the settlement of Mountain Springs at 8pm to discover that the nearest motel was 15 miles back down the hill we had just come up and the nearest campsite was a further 3 miles away. C- At this point I was in tears, the pain from my hip was so great, I knew I couldn't cycle any further.
We were saved by "The World Famous Mountain Springs Saloon", or rather its landlady, Heather. She pointed us up a dirt track, saying "you can free camp up there", the chef agreed to feed us even though the kitchen was closed and the pain killers flowed (in this case Samuel Adams lager).
The World Famous Mountain Springs Saloon
Saviour of weary travellers near Las Vegas
have never been so glad of a patch of flat rough ground, we pitched the tent and fell asleep.
The next morning we woke around 9am, got up and struck camp. The Saloon was serving breakfast and then we heard the best words in the world "It's all downhill to Pahrump". So folks if you are ever around this way and you feel the need for refreshment, may I recommend The World Famous Mountain Springs Saloon, not only for their beer and good company but also because they are good people who helped us when we needed it. Also look out for our signed dollar bill, it'll be on the wall somewhere amid all the other ones.
We changed the brake blocks and altered my saddle height, then set off for Pahrump, which was downhill for about thirty miles, followed by a couple of miles with a slight incline of about one in fifty. We were to discover that this was a common occurance in the Nevada desert. The desert consists of a number of (quite low) mountain ranges separated by shallow valleys, with the settlements either on the edge of the mountains (where the springs are) or at the valley bottom (where the rivers flow for a few days each year). You tend to find yourself freewheeling down a dead-straight ten or twenty mile road and then pedalling up the other side. The incline tends to be so shallow that you don't realise you are climbing.
we rolled into Pahrump about 2pm, stopped at a drive-through coffee shop and found a motel room. We spent the afternoon transferring photos to CD and ate at a really sub-standard restaurant (there are other words to describe this, but we seemed to be blocked from swearing on travelblog - poo and knickers)! The Pilsner Urquell tasted like it had whisky in it and my veggie pizza was a pizza with cold veggies on top. The waitress also kept taking our order to the wrong table - duh!
13/09/05 Amargosa Valley
We spent the morning in Pahrump library doing email and blog stuff and ate lunch at Subway before heading for Death Valley Junction. Death Valley Junction is a bizarre place - a hotel and an Opera House (which is open October to March) and little else. People kept stopping to ask us the way to Las Vegas, and we set them off in the right direction (up this road, right at the end, it's 120 miles). We set of for the Nevada state line (as we had crossed into California), where there was a Casino/Inn/Hotel/Cafe/General Store/only building in the place where we stopped for the night. It had an enormous plastic cow in the parking lot, with no explanation.
Tonight we discovered that in America, Barry Scott is Dan Dolan - and Cillit Bang is marketed as Easy-Off Bam. Aside from that, the adverts are identical.
Amargosa Valley to Beatty, 48 miles, up all the way at the usual gradient and with a cross wind for a large part of it. We took refuge at Amargosa Valley Post Office (10 miles from the Casino) where we posted postcards and chatted with the postwoman about our route, the weather and how barmy we are. It's worrying how many Americans think we've got at least one screw loose because of our travels and the main reason for their concern over our mental stability is the bicycles.
Five miles further on we stopped at Amargosa Valley Library (for such a small place it is very spread out) to top up our water bottles, unfortunately the water fountain was broken, the medical centre next door was shut, so I ended up knocking on the Sherrif's door. He seemed a bit phased by the request "Can I have some water please?", but as he was on the phone I didn't have to explain.
We stopped at Highway 95 to eat our "lunch" of one apple and half a slice of lemon cake each
washed down with some very legal water. We saw a guy hitching on the highway, nobody was stopping for him, we gave him a bottle of water (to quote Vernon "That'll keep him alive until nightfall")and wished him good luck.
We rode into Beatty, drank the local store out of cold fizzy pop and booked into the Phoenix Inn where the door has a bizarre lift, push and lurch to the right locking mechanism.
We spent the next day mooching around town, checking e-mails and trying to update the blog, unfortunately the entire town shares a T1 line and we kept timing out whenever we tried to save anything. We ended up e-mailing the blog to ourselves for later uploading.
We did the longest ride yet today, 69 miles to Goldfield, so early rise and early breakfast, then off up the road. We had a tailwind and made good progress. We had been warned by many drivers that the last 15 miles were uphill and bad, but as it turned out we only had problems on the last 2 uphill miles, the others were at the usual joke gradient and with a tailwind it was pretty much like being on the flat. The last couple of miles up to Goldfield Summit were at a tougher gradient and we were beginning to run out of oomph by then, still we made it with a couple of stops for breath. Then we raced into town as the last mile was downhill all the way.
Goldfield is a wierd place, it is almost derelict, with so many buildings boarded up, you can't help feeling that somebody would have gotten away with something if it wasn't for those pesky kids. There is one motel, which thankfully had a room available, and one restaurant which closes at 7pm. This is another place which had it's heyday with the precious metal mining boom, including the fourth largest stock exchange in the world.
This was a short ride, and a good job too as I had a headache this morning which can't have had anything to do with the amount of alcohol consumed last night - oooh no not at all!!
We woke up to no breakfast as the only restaurant in Goldfield doesn't open until midday, so apples, danish pastry and Gatorade from the General Store for breakfast and off to Tonopah (Toe-nuh-pah), home of the Stealth Bomber apparently.
On the way we met a European bloke on a bicycle who was heading for Las Vegas, he was planning to do in two days the reverse of the ride which had taken us four, but in his favour was that he was generally going downhill (ish) and he was a lot thinner (and probably fitter)than us.
We took the last room at the Best Western as today there is a desert race going on, so the car park rapidly filled with rather massive off road cars and their even bigger support trucks.
We got chatting to a motorcycle rider, who told us that Coaldale, where we were expecting to stop the next night, was a ghost town with no services at all. We reviewed our plans and decided to do 82 miles to Benton CA the next day, so an early night was called for.
Tot: 2.439s; Tpl: 0.044s; cc: 22; qc: 97; dbt: 0.0604s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.6mb