St. George, Utah. 3 Feb, 2015
after a mandatory break from cycling during which I had to go to Canada to get my citizenship and passport I am back on the road.
Day 1(24mi/39km): Back on the Road
There are 3 ways into Nevada from St.George: the interstate, the old highway or the backroads. It didn't take long to decide which one to take. In the rush I forgot to download the map and already almost got lost in town. This will be fun!
After taking the wrong left turn (Didn't know that at the time) I met few guys shooting sniper rifles just beside the road. I got to "almost" hit a target at 1000yards (~900m) and then I took off.
"We'll shoot the other way for a bit"
I had some time to make it over the hill. How's that for motivation to pedal up!
Two motorists directed me the right way and I warned them about the snipers. Later a truck driver hauling water to his ranch showed me the right way. There aren't many people on these roads and I am glad that those I saw stopped to talk to me.
Since I left the pavement in the morning, the roads have been far from perfect. Going down a hill one of the bolts holding the rear rack broke. A disaster...
(dramatic pause, violin music in the background)
Luckily the Surly - Troll has 3 eyelets to mount the rack. First one still had the bolt I broke crossing a stream in Alaska and that left me with my 3rd spare. What could have been a disaster was easily avoided, so easy that a caveman could do it, if said caveman had an allen key and a spare bolt. (Cavemen on the right!)
Then I found the perfect place to stop: a flat spot to pitch my tent, a log to lean my bike, a club so I can pretend to be a troll, a nice sunset and best of all: IT WAS ACTUALLY WARM!
Day 2(70mi/112km): The Long Way Round
After a pleasant ride into Nevada, I got another chance to hop off the pavement. The start of my road was marked with a dug out ditch to prevent vehicle from wandering in.
The road was steep, dusty and rocky. At times I was better off riding across the desert parallel to the track. I realize that I can't be complaining about the road quality, since I am the one who chose to be here! It was still an amazing place to be. No cars buzzing by, no houses and no fences. Just the wide open Mojave desert and the sound of gunfire in the distance.
Just before sunset I met a motorcyclist. He said:
"People ask me, what is it like riding a motorcycle and I'd say:
'I have my hands up here, it's like flying.'"
Day 3(75mi/121km): The Hoover Dam
Entering Lake Mead - the largest reservoir in the United States but I won't be seeing it for a while. There are 35miles of rolling hills to deal with first.
Few road cyclists passed me like a traffic cone, one of them gave me the thumbs up.
Aside from "The bowl of fire" (bot left) and some amazing mountain (bot right) the scenery was beautifully unremarkable.
Then I rode across the impressive Hoover Dam, I have never seen so much concrete in one place. Just as impressive was the bridge built right across from it. The bridge project cost some 240$ million and sadly did not include a good shoulder. I rode the last hill into Boulder City in the dark.
Day 4(31mi/50km): Las Vegas
The ride into Vegas took a quiet bike path and then a busy road with generous shoulder. Then I was on the strip. Cars, people, buildings and of course: Elvis.
Through somebody I met earlier at Bryce Canyon, I had a great place to stay. The view from the top of the Ogden was amazing and I also got a chance to meet a friend from Canada - who is the only person I know to take a selfie with a Grizzly bear.
I also got a ticket for a concert at Hakkasan night club only to find out about a dress code, which I definitely did not meet. One of the highlights was the Belagio fountains (below).
Day 5(39mi/63km): It doesn't always rain in the desert
I would have stayed for another day but was rather hesitant to keep going, after all - Death Valley is just around the corner... the mountain. I mean just around the mountain.
After meeting some Noobs from California and wild Burros I got off the pavement to find the perfect camping spot.
It doesn't always rain in the desert but when it does...
Day 6(52mi/84km): Where to now?
It poured all night and in the morning it was gone. There are two ways to get to Pahrump: The highway 160 or a thin line across the mountains appropriately names "582".
I chose the latter and by doing that I lost my privileges to complain about road surface, after all - I am the one who chose to be here.
Echoes of gunshots in the distance made a good soundtrack to road 582 and later a nameless powerline trail.
An uneventful an smooth pavement ride took me into Pahrump, where I stayed with warmshowers host Roger.
He told me about how his wife got lost in Death Valley for 3 days and nearly died. He showed me the newsvideo and pointed on the map:
"See this area? Don't go there."
I looked at the "4x4 Rough" labeled roads leading into the Death Valley as if I had a choice.