DAY 16: September 10, 2011 (Saturday)
Southern Reno, Nevada to Topaz Lake, Nevada: 63 miles (612 thus far)
Wake-up call came in at 5:45 AM, as I wished to get some miles behind me before the heat would begin its dehydrating dance upon my fragile body yet again. A complimentary breakfast of oatmeal, bananas, and blueberry yogurt started the day. Saturdays are lazy days for most folks, so riding out of the motel driveway just as the sun began to rise in the east revealed hardly a car anywhere for miles! Oh the quiet joy of silent passage, even in Reno! South on US 395 I continued my overland journey, where I later stopped at a rural cabinet makers shop and used the porta-potty, with their old furry black dog curious about my presence. South of Reno, perhaps 10 miles north of Carson City, the state capitol, a large sign read: BICYCLES MUST EXIT, the second such sign in this state. But this time, there was construction to the side of the road, so the exit was blocked by tonnage of concrete barriers, forcing me to remain on the highway that was now a 70 mile per hour freeway. No problem however, as my “trike lane” was every bit as wide as the two automobile lanes next to me on this divided highway. For several miles, I could see “Old Hwy 395” off to my right about 200 yards, and I could see numerous Saturday morning bicyclists riding it with no traffic, yet there was no way to get to it. But wait, after what seemed like forever spinning along in high gears, up ahead was an exit, which I took, got onto the coveted roadway, and hopped down into a gully with bushes to perform a short water offloading chore. Another meal pack bar and a bunch of water re-energized my spirit, and I tackled the uphill immediately ahead. At the top, there was an entrance back onto the freeway, and some other rural road that headed into a mountainous region, but just at that time, a local woman cyclists happened by and provided a convoluted back-way into Carson City on the rural road. It would have taken forever by the way she described all the uphills, curves, and intersections, so I opted to get back on the freeway, ride it for about half a mile downhill, and exit at the first Carson City exit, all coasting … all downhill, fortunately. Into an Alberstsons supermarket I pulled, got some usual trail mix, V8 Juice, strawberries, bananas, and some almond-vanilla granola to replace my dwindling Kashi 7-grain nuggets, which, by this time, I was tired of eating and needed a change of taste anyway. I even treated my self to an ice cold Naked-brand protein smoothie drink! Made great time south through Nevada’s capitol city in light traffic, and on south to Gardnerville, where I picked up another icy protein drink during this mid 80s Saturday. For the past several minutes, an increasing number of sirens were screaming by – turns out a lightning strike in the Pine Nut Mountains north of Topaz Lake had set the forest ablaze, and they were sending every fire and police agency from Reno south. These emergency vehicles, including Hot Shot fire crews, continued past my little trike for hours as I headed up the grade to Topaz. On the Simee Dimeh grade, the sky quickly turned black and rain began pummeling down so quickly that I had no time to retrieve my rain gear and get it on before my clothes got soaked. From 86 degrees Fahrenheit to winds and rain, it became apparent that I needed some temporary shelter to avoid getting wetter and chilled. The cloudburst continued as I pulled into a dirt area that had an abandoned commercial building that was for sale … with a huge roof overhang, just right to park my trike on the concrete and get dry. I briefly contemplated sleeping here alongside US 395 (as fire equipment kept on heading up the mountain), but the rain eventually stopped, the wind continued, the air warmed slightly, my clothes dried a fair amount, and so I set out once again. It was now getting darker, both with continuing cloud cover and a day coming near an end, so on when my headlight, taillight, and strobe beacon as I crested the Simee Dimeh Pass at nearly 6,000 feet, and made quick work of pedaling on to Topaz Lake with the cooler temperatures. By now, my clothes were dry from the winds, and the fire crews and cops were returning home, nature’s rain having accomplished what they could not. As I rolled into the Best Western Topaz Lake Inn, and pulled my trike under the cover of a parking structure, the clouds once again opened and doused the landscape, resulting in the wonderful desert smells of creosote bushes when wet. I got a room … figured it’s only money, so why pitch my tent in the rain? Live a little, be a gypsy, get around! It was too dark to proceed further today anyway. Updated the Trike Asylum website yet again, ate some grub from my bags, left the trike outside, and hit the sack.