Saturday, September 24, 2011

Loneliest Road in America

Route 50: The Loneliest Road in America

So what might you expect from the Loneliest Road in America? Not much. I guess the only thing you would expect from the road was that it'd be pretty lonely. Well, without sounding too disappointed, we were disappointed with this so-called "Loneliness." There were so many cars on the road, we could barely even ride side-by-side to chat away the distances between towns.

Loneliest Road in America? We think not. How about, "Busiest Road in America?"

Well, I guess it's not I-95 in New Haven, CT over the Q Bridge on a Monday morning at 8:30, but it has it's fair share of traffic. At least I understand the traffic on 95 everyone is going to work. But where are these people going? Work probably isn't in the next town 75 miles away with only 300 people living in it. So where are they driving to? When we find out the answer to that, we'll let you know.

Loneliest Road? More like, "Thirstiest Road in America"

Our first test on this road was a span of 85 miles from Milford, UT to Baker, NV. The 85 miles included three big passes to climb up and over without a single town in between and took us over 11 hours from start to finish. Half way through the day, after we had sadly found out the water we were told was supposed to be there was not, we were thirsty. Our first savior was a man with a dirt bike in the back of his truck. He reached in the bed of his truck for his cooler and pulled out a Capri Sun and two mini-cans of soda. Pssshhhh....Gulp...gulp...gulp...ahhhhhh.

Savior #2 was actually three guys in 4 x 4's. They stopped on the side of the road and offered us a choice of ice cold water, soda, or beer. We all took the water.

And savior #3 was Doug, the father of another touring cyclist we met the day before. He rode 30 miles from Baker to find us and give us each a cold water, a Gatorade, and a cookie. We were good to go and made it to Baker with liquid to spare!

Loneliest Road? How about, "Hilliest Road in America"

On Monday, we climbed our 12th summit on Route 50. After 300 miles on this road, here's what we discovered. It goes up for 20 miles, then back down. You never really know when it flattens out except that you get frustrated because it's slow going 20 miles into the wind only to go up for 20 more miles, then back down all too quickly.

Loneliest? Let's try "Hottest, Driest, Sunniest Road in America."

Thankfully, we timed our tip through Nevada right, and instead of 115 degree days, we only felt it in 90's, with one small temperature drop into the 50's during the thunderstorm of the century! It did happen to be on a day where there really was an open cafe half way to the next town. We walked in, the waitress snagged our wet clothes to throw them in the dryer and we enjoyed hot cocoa and Hot Pockets with two other touring cyclists while warming up next to the wood stove.

We added Jesse and Royal to our riding group to finish the ride into Ely where we made it right before the second storm came rubbing through.

"Most McDonalds Deprived Road in America"

Definitely not complaining about this one.  There were, however, too many stores like this.

"Most Unforgiving Road in America"

Just when we thought we were done with Route 50, we were discouraged to find that it was our path to Lake Tahoe. Ok. 10 more miles. How bad could that really be? You might think that after 465 miles on this road we would have known it better. Known it to never cease. Know that each time it gave us a small reprieve from climbing, it was only to rest our legs enough to battle the next hill. Known that it would be unforgiving as always.

The last 10 miles of Route 50 may have been the toughest yet. Having said our goodbyes to Mike in Carson City, we fought our last battle with Route 50 up and up and up and up Spooner Pass. It may only have been 10 miles, but it was a harsh 2,300 feet of elevation gain and brought us up over 7,000ft once again. We reached the top with red faces, cramped hands, and shaky legs.... But we were victorious.

As the hill descended into Lake Tahoe, Route 50 went south and we didn't even give it a passing glance as we turned north.

So I guess we don't really know what to call this road. When in Fallon, a waitress at the coffee shop called it, "The Deadliest Highway in America." At least that wasn't it.

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