Friday, September 14, 2012

Never Eat Sausages on Wednesday

One of the reasons that I enjoyed teaching Social Studies was that I could hammer into the kids that North is always at the top of your map, and that finding your way in the world was easy as pie.  Easy for me to say to a grade seven student, eh?

I had a hell of a time getting out of Twin Falls this morning. I was up at the crack of cracks, and so were my neighbours, all going off in their scattered ways to beat the heat and get across the vast tracts of  Idaho, Nevada, and Utah and anywhere else in the neighbourhood where it is hot and flat.

I arose before sunrise, and had the bike packed and ready to go before it was light. I had prepared my cooling vest and filled my camelback.  I anticipated about 250 km of searing heat and I was not looking forward to the rising sun.

I lost about an hour trying to get our of Twin Falls. It is not that large a city, looking like Kelowna with a huge big ditch down the middle of it, (hence "Twin Falls).  I geology of this area is amazing.  I will be riding along a flat prairie, and then out of nowhere a huge chasm in the earth appears, and there may or may not be a river at the bottom.  I guess all of the volcanic activity is more recent in this neck of the woods, although I would say the mountains are older than the Rockies in B.C.   I digress.

I ended up at the Twin Falls airport, and while it would of been interesting to fly the bike to Columbia from there, I decided to fight with Mr. Garmin and try and make sense of things.  I think that having North up on the screen helps tremendously,and may that is why I have been going around in circles for the last few years.  Getting my directions straightened out, I set out to veer south and easterly, aiming for Moab Utah, and wanting to stay off the interstate at all costs.

The infamous Highway 50

I travelled from Twin Falls, in Idaho, to Wells, Nevada.  From Wells I headed easterly towards Wendover, and then directly south, south west to Ely, Nevada.  From Ely I travelled  through three different mountain ranges and valleys to Millford, Utah.  I had, by then, run out of map space as well as light.  It looks like  Millford is a mining town, and I will check it out a bit tomorrow before making the run to Moab, where I think I will stop for a bit and do some touristy things, like climb SlipRock...not...

More Aliens are moving on Nevada

It seems that every small to middling town in Nevada has one or two casinos.  Wendover was interesting, in that the only reason it seemed to be there was for the casinos and the Bonnevile Salt flats.   I considered taking Blondie out on the flats, as they were prepping some cars for races, but I understood that it had rained, and I decided that I would hold off on the salt until the Salar de Uni, in Bolivia.  Blondie was happy with that decision.  When I rolled into Ely, the whole town was preping for a huge race on Saturday.  Apparently they close Highway 6 between Ely and Las Vegas, and the rich adrenalin junkies go at it. I wondered why I was seeing a lot of hi end sports cars around town.  A kid told me that the record is 22 minutes.  I will have to google this one, because I think that it is over 200 km between Ely and Las Vegas.  Ely Road Race

  From Ely south, I ended up on Highway 50, the "lonliest Highway in America" as billed by Life magazine.  I didn't feel particularly lonely, but by the time I got to the mountains, I was heating up again.  I am learning to stop and drink water and pee, usually in that order. My nurse advisor made it clear to me that electrolytes and a proper balance of same are important in hot weather riding.  (Didn't know that I had a nurse on my Team, did you?)

This guy has been following my all afternoon. In the morning, he was on my starboard side.  What gives?  Am I near Area 51?

Apparently the mountain ranges in Nevada are arranged in a north south manner, so as I headed east
and south today, I went over about three different and distinct ranges.  While they are not as pointy as our Rockies in BC,  I was surprised at the altitude that they got to.  I think that the Nevada highways department is trying to save money, because I am convinced that I passed this same altitude sign at least three times today.  Maybe they build their road so that this particular altitude will be the top limit for each of the ranges.  It is not worth going back for,but I am convinced that I saw this very same figure before.  Hallucinations?  Altitude sickness?  Gremlins or aliens: who knows.

Nevada was more than I expected, and I was simply anticipating a long hot ride to reach Utah.  While it was a long hot ride, I enjoyed the variety of peaks and valleys which interspersed the wide valleys.  I was thinking that because of the situation of the valleys, it would have been very easy for early hunters and gathers to travel down the valleys.  The floors of the valleys are wide open and very flat, and I would guess that 10,000 years ago, or more, that the would have been abundant with game.  I am a proponent of the Asia-North America land bridge school of anthropology, and any example which supports my point of view is worth harping on.

I was happy with Blondie today. I have been varying her feed: sometimes low octane, and occasionally better octane.  I really don't know what the purpose is, other than I have some sort of idea about what to expect in SA regarding the quality of fuel.  Blondie is leaking a bit of oil, and as nearly as I can tell, it is coming from the rear part of the engine. I am wondering if the valve cover gasket has gone, or is partially worn.  I will keep an eye on the oil level,as well as the amount of oil she spits out.  I  think that it is also a function of the heavy and hot riding,although I am not pushing the motor,and seldom go above 5000 RPM.  The heat is not good for the tires either, and I will have to start thinking about where and when I am going to get new tires.

In the meantime, Blondie is running well and I am happy with her. I hope to spend some time at Moab, and maybe unload some of the gear from Blondie and give her a good run without all the gear holding her back.  We will see.....