Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
The entire state of Nevada was composed of brown-grey sand.
The border race into Nevada was intense! The first 12 miles or so on the day were tough, with lots of climbs and false flats. About ten miles in, I pulled over to stretch since I was getting pretty tired. After the first 12 though, there was a sizable descent all the way to the first aid station, where I found that Dan and Paul had gotten there a lot earlier. They left soon after I got there, while I was still in the bathroom. The next 20 miles were almost entirely flat, which I'm particularly good at. I set a solid pace and held it steady for the entire 20 miles, hoping to catch them before the next aid station, but was unsuccessful. I got to the aid station shortly after they did, but knowing that my biggest strength is endurance and a lack of need of rest, I did a aid station of the grab 'n go variety and left before they did. They caught me five miles later. I pulled them for about ten miles, until Dan moved up to the front only five miles from the border. At about a mile and a half out from the border, I decided to attack. My lead lasted less than two seconds. Dan and Paul are on another level from me. They sprinted for the border, a race that Dan won, while I settled for a very comfortable third place finish. What a border race, a 56-mile race, close until the last mile, and a sprint for the finish. Glad to finally put some points on the board in the Sierra Border Classic.
That day we were headed to Caliente, Nevada, so our aid stations were Caliente-themed, complete with Red Hots, Atomic Fire Balls, chips 'n salsa, tacos for lunch, and the radio was playing Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tito Puente. Good times. Once in Caliente, we noticed we were "only" 150 miles from Vegas, so we took a side trip there in the cars. We arrived at 8:00 PM and left at 2:00 AM, which was about enough time to walk up and down the strip and into a few casinos. Some people gambled. I didn't. We got back to the church we were staying at about 5:00 AM, slept for two hours, then got up to do 80 miles the next day.
We were headed to Rachel, a town of less than 100 people. On sleep deprivation, and some of us hung over, it was a grueling day. Andrew wound up throwing up while he was pedaling, and managed to catch it on film. At the next aid station, he decided to show it to us.
"Ewwwwwwww!!!! ...wait, how do you rewind this thing?"
There was some intense climbing that day, the kind where you keep coming up to corners hoping that it's downhill around the next corner, only to see it get steeper instead. Very dry and very hot. We mostly took a road called the Extra-Terrestrial Highway, since it runs near Area 51. When you got into town, the "Welcome to Rachel" sign says "Population: Humans 86, Aliens ?"
That night in Rachel, we stayed at a place called the A'Le'Inn. It turned out to be not so much an Inn as much as a mobile-home-for-rent park with a cafe/gift shop nearby. We had a mobile home donated, but with 20 people staying in it, floor space was at a premium. Many of us slept outside. The folks at the cafe/gift shop cooked us both dinner and breakfast the next morning, and both were delicious. We even had live music at dinner.
After Rachel was my second drive day, a 110-mile day into Tonopah. It was 110 miles because that was actually the distance between the two closest cities, with not so much as a gas station in between them. We saw nothing but sand all day.
Due to the remote nature of the area, we decided this would be the perfect day to do an annual tradition on Texas 4,000, the Naked Mile, which is exactly what it sounds like. At high noon, Hap went behind the van at an aid station and returned wearing his helmet, aviator shades, his heart rate monitor, and nothing else.
"I think it's about that time."
The majority of us promptly stripped down, myself included, even though I was driving. A few initially balked at the idea: "What if someone sees us and calls the cops?"
"That's not a problem," I explained. "First of all, no one gets a signal out here. Second, town is 50 miles that way, and 50 miles that way. If a cop gets that call, he's gonna go 'You saw what? Out where? Suuuure, I'm gonna get right on that.' By the time anyone did make it here, we'd have our clothes back on anyway, and can act like it never happened. And finally, we'd be doing them a favor! Now they have a story they can tell for the rest of their lives, 'You're not gonna believe what I saw in the middle of nowhere in Nevada!'"
All day, we'd only seen about one car every hour, and naturally, eight went by almost as soon as we started. We went down the road together in flying V formation, and the Naked Mile turned into the Naked 12 Miles. We agreed it felt really good, having that airflow on your skin, maybe we should do this more often! I had to turn around in the middle and ride back to the support vehicle I was driving, and another batch of cars went by. I felt more self-conscious this time, because now I didn't have safety in numbers. A few of us wound up getting sunburns in the worst possible areas.
Three hotels in Tonopah had donated two rooms each, so we slept very well that night. Athan and I went out to nail down our milkshake requirement for the state. A few others went to a restaurant, and with their waiter right behind them, Jennifer loudly declared, "This town sucks!"
"Jennifer, the waiter was right behind you when you said that!"
He was just walking past their table again when Jennifer practically shouted, "Well it's not like he doesn't know!"
from Texas 4,000