Day 8: Garrison, UT to Ely, NV

Friday 9/16

Ah, sweet sunrise. What does a dog think when a new morning warms his face?

We left our camp site overlooking the valley and headed on towards Lund, NV. The morning was hazy but it didn’t seem dark enough to suggest rain. The first part of our ride consisted of wide dirt roads used by the ranchers. We then turned onto a trail that was narrower and at times would’ve been hard to follow had someone not left a series of yellow ribbons on the trees to mark the trail. This trail wasn’t a part of the TAT proper; it was one that Matt and Ken had mapped out for their trip.

It wasn’t a difficult trail, but if you didn’t pay attention, things happened. In my case, a branch had caught my side bag and was holding me back — problem was, I didn’t know it as I increased the throttle to overcome the decrease in speed. When the branch broke, it slingshotted me into a tree. The bike was wedged so Wayne had to help me disengage it from the tree. The added width of the sidebags would torment me through the entire trip, as I continually clipped objects (including Wayne).

We crossed a lot of dry creeks in this interesting route. Were it spring, some of them might’ve been pretty deep.

That made me wonder: When is the best time to do the TAT? It almost seems like no time is a good time. Up through mid-summer, you could get blocked by deep water crossings, especially if there was a late winter. Any time after mid-summer and your challenge is triple-digit heat in places where nothing grows above waist level. Pick your poison. We selected our departure date because by leaving after Labor Day fewer people might be in the campgrounds to which we might want to avail ourselves. And besides, who can stand the late August tourist inundation of Denio Junction?

As we were heading back towards pavement, I was in the lead when approaching this cattle guard.

I saw the faded orange tassle at the last second and hit the brakes before getting clothes-lined off my bike. Wayne saw it before I did and was wondering if I had planned to stop. For the rest of the trip, cows wouldn’t be the only ones paranoid of cattle crossings. I would slow down no matter how wide or narrow the cattle crossing was.

Back on the pavement, we could see dark clouds dumping rain just to the north of us. As with most of the storms we’ve encountered on this trip, it was spiced with thunder and lightning.

It didn’t look as apocalyptic to the direct east over Patterson Pass so we put on our rain gear and went for it. Although it was cold, only the occasional drop came down on us.

We made decent progress until we turned down the road towards Lund. The rains had left a muddy mess on this less-travelled road. We came to a large puddle that we could skirt, but the edges were a lot slicker than they looked. Before we even progressed half way past it, Wayne hit the ground. At first he wasn’t moving; his foot looked like it was twisted into an unnatural direction. By the time I got my bike out of the rut I was in so I could get the kickstand down, Wayne had wormed his way out from under the bike.

I was relieved to see he was ok. Simon, likewise, was unaffected.

We had to make a decision: Attempt the remaining 20 miles to Lund on a muddy road or make our way up to Ely on the dirt road with better drainage. We could see another sizable water hazard just beyond the one we tried to get by, so there was no reason to believe the road would get better than worse. Ely seemed to the better option if we wanted to keep our grief to a minimum.

Wayne brought both bikes back across the bog. It was just one less opportunity for me to drop it and one less need for him to pick it up.

When we reached Ely, the clouds broke and the sun was starting to make us sweat. We grabbed a sandwich for lunch and looked over our maps to determine our next move. We talked about continuing on the pavement down to Lund and then returning to the dirt, but despite the sun chasing us into the shade, the weather report showed more rain in the forecast. It was only 2:30 but we called it a day. Trying to set up camp in a storm sounded beyond unappealing.

An RV dump station that had a working hose was just what we needed to remove the tonnage of mud.

The SD card reader I had quit working so we went into town to look for another one. The Radio Shack we went to was across the street from the Hotel Nevada, which happened to be one of the host hotels for the Silver State Classic Challenge. A few cars with numbers on their doors were parked in front of the hotel.

With Ely being the hub of the event, we were lucky we didn’t need a motel room. I’m not sure any would’ve been available, particularly ones that allowed pets. We went to the KOA on the edge of town, where there were camp sites aplenty. Not long after we got our tent set up, the storm hit and raged well into the night. We were ecstatic with our choice to hunker down in Ely.

Wayne was hanging out in the KOA store talking to a guy working there whose other business was renting porta-potties. He said the organization that does the 90 mile race also holds another race that’s a mile long. He told a story about what happened one year: Way past the end of the finish line there was a curve and since no cars went down that far, he was told to put the porta-potties at the curve. One guy in the race accidentally accelerated past the finish line, fishtailed, and then rolled it 10 times, taking out a porta-potty. The driver wasn’t killed but the empty porta-potty was.

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Day 8 overview: 105 miles

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