First Century *UPDATED*

Trip Start Jun 04, 2011
Trip End Jul 26, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today was such a long day. We started essentially with the sun at 6 am this morning. Riding from Elko to Wendover takes us through our first timezone change, which also means we lose an hour while riding. While that may not be as bad as having to sit on the saddle for an extra hour, it still puts us into our hotel an hour later than we otherwise would expect and on a long day like today, that's a valuable hour. It was my first century ride, actually 107 miles with over 4500 feet of climbing. We had a strong headwind for the last 30 miles. For the relatively little preparation I did for this amount of riding, I'm proud to say that I finished... but I'm exhausted.

The ride through North-Eastern Nevada was prettier than the other Nevada days and it started to change my feelings towards the state. The mountains were taller and snowier. The terrain wasn't as flat. The "grass" and shrubs were greener. There was more water. It was a lot less desolate than most of our other riding in the state. It's a little bit ironic that I started to enjoy riding in Nevada on my last day in the state.

Construction on I-80 has forced us to do some rather ridiculous things in the name of riding our bicycles across the country. In a lot of places we've been riding, there are no other roads going West to East besides I-80, so in those situations, we are legally permitted to ride on the right shoulder of the interstate. Every day we encounter road work on the interstate, and that leads us to some really strange places for riding. In California I wrote about riding on the freshly paved left lane/shoulder since they had shifted traffic onto the right shoulder... and how we ended up riding through fresh asphalt while getting pulled over by the police. In Nevada we've ridden down off ramps just to cross a street and ride back up the on ramp. We've also ridden on the right side of the orange cones right past construction teams doing their work. Today we had the strangest experience yet. They were actively paving the right shoulder of the road, leaving us no where to ride. Our ride leaders told us to pick up our bikes and walk past the construction in the dirt to the right of the road. As we were doing that, a worker driving one of the big roller trucks whistled at us and told us to cross over to the other side of the divided highway, and ride down the closed off section of highway against traffic, protected simply by the string of orange cones they had placed down the middle of the road. We were in what would have been the left lane of the highway for traffic traveling the opposite direction for about a mile. I'm glad we didn't have to walk the whole distance, but it was still an unnerving experience.

It has taken some getting used to, but with over 400 miles logged on the interstate, it is starting to feel normal. It is nice riding on a wide shoulder, not having to stop at traffic signals, and not having to follow complicated directions. Trucks roaring past me an arms reach away is still a little unsettling, but I've grown accustomed to it, and almost welcome the little burst of wind they push into my back as they pass. However, there are a few things about the interstate I definitely never got used to; these are things I will not miss when we go back to normal roads. First, I will not miss dodging massive shredded truck tire carcasses on the side of the road every other mile. Second, I will not miss all of the shards of metal, glass, wire, broken car parts, rubber straps, and road kill on the shoulder that keep me looking down at the road instead of out at the area I'm riding through. Finally, I will not miss rumble strips, in any of their miserable arrangements. It wasn't until I started riding on 1-80 that I learned about the inferior rumble strip design. In Ohio and elsewhere I've grown used to a foot wide strip along the edge of the road that runs parallel and close to the white line, leaving a wide unrumbled section between the white line and the gravel. In Nevada I discovered the atrocious alternative - rumble strips that run the entire width of the shoulder, from white line to gravel, for about 3 feet every 10 yards or so. There is absolutely no way to avoid them. You just have to grit your teeth and hope to avoid shaken baby syndrome as you and your poor little bicycle suffer across hundreds of rumble patch designed to awaken sleepy truck drivers. No person can stand on their pedals for those distances; eventually you have to sit down on an always inadequately padded saddle and accept the rumble strips where they hurt the most. Sorry if that description hurts you, but I assure you, it hurts me more.

Tonight we got a real taste of Nevada that we fortunately had avoided up until this point. We are staying at the Rainbow Casino and Hotel in West Wendover, Nevada. This town is essentially the Las Vegas for Salt Lake City. The Rainbow appeals to an interesting clientele. Look through the pictures at the absurd carpets, colors, smoked mirrors, and 70s decor of this place. We had dinner in the smokey casino at the Rainforest Buffet. It was a lot of food, and it was very good. Scott is a garbage disposal and went back for more food I think nine times before all was said and done. I crafted an extravagant chocolate desert from cake, ice cream, toppings, hot fudge and carmel. I can eat about 7000 calories a day on this trip, and I assure you that I make the most of that opportunity whenever possible.  

Distance: 106.55 mi - 739.50 total
Time: 7:17:46 - 53:20:06 total
Elevation Gain: 4,017 ft - 32,879 total
Av. Speed: 14.6 mph - 13.9 overall
Av. HR: 125 bpm - 131 overall
Calories: 5,911 - 53,540 total
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Jeff Bracken on

Hey Guys,

It's been great to read the daily updates and the photos look amazing. I think you have covered more miles on your bikes than I've driven in the past three months!

Wishing you good luck in your journey!


the McMullens on

We are following you all the way to the finish! Unbelievable first 10 days!! Congrats. Thanks for the daily updates, Stephen. You have already redeemed yourself from your previous trip. Enjoy your day of rest coming up. You have earned it!

martha717 on

Enjoy your rest in SLC. I know you could use a bit of time off the saddles. Praying for some restored energy levels; mind, body and spirit. I love you all!

Patti Hathaway on

A little late to join your blog as I found your mom at church last night. I'm looking forward to reading each day so I know more how to pray for you all. Loved the photo of Scott at the buffet. Drew was totally impressed with the amount of food you can eat now considering the fact that you couldn't even begin to finish the "Around the World (or whatever it is called)" plate at Olive Garden for your 16th birthday. You're becoming a man Scottie! You are not missing anything here as all your buddies are working FT and are exhausted. Have a great time!

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