Day 9 - Battle Mountain to Elko NV
An Early Winter
Mileage: 75 miles
Total Climb: 2,500 feet
Weather: Just read on…
The rain from the previous night continued on through the morning, as did the cold. Our group readied themselves for a wet, frigid ride up Emigrant Pass today. The support staff were all dressed in their normal clothes… they were ready for a few riders to bag it at some point in the day. We started our ride back through town and onto a long frontage road, where a few riders decided they would make it an early day due to the cold (around 40 degrees) temperatures and the constant rain.
After a short trip down I-80, we reached the first SAG stop. It was at a rest area which had a plaque commemorating the Snyder-Reed party and their split at a place ominously called Gravely Ford. It was also here that a few more riders decided it was time to hang it up after making their best efforts to push on. They may have been upset, or disappointed, but they had made the right choice, as further up the road the bad weather got exponentially poorer.
As one group beelined straight for the hotel to prevent hypothermia and get the riders out of their wet (read: completely soaked) clothes, they passed others who were attempting to solider on through quickly worsening weather, some even seeming unbothered. It was surreal, passing through the desert while snow and wind took over the landscape, changing the browns and greens to a stark white as far as you could see. As we went further down the mountain pass, the snow gave way to normal rain, but the cold stuck around. Safety being the support staff’s primary concern, we quickly made the decision to get the rest of the cyclists off of the road so that they could ride another day.
The trailer was dropped off at the hotel so that we could have another smaller, more maneuverable van to pick up riders, and it was driven back to get anyone that had been missed by the mechanic van’s first sweep. This culminated in a stop on top of emigrant pass, where Gene and Alex were on top of both vans securing our group’s bicycles to the racks in freezing conditions with constant wind and snow until everything was strapped down and accounted for. Only two riders, Hans and Ton, our resident Dutchmen for the summer, made it the whole 75 miles into Elko. When everyone got to the hotel we started redistributing the bicycles and wheels that had been put on top of and inside the vans, and the hotel did a wonderful job of supplying us with rags to clean them, as well as unending patience for the large group of wet cyclists now populating their lobby. At the end of the day, we had zero serious injuries and no sick riders, no crashes or collisions, not even a slip and a fall. Even the cyclists, some of whom were upset they couldn’t ride the entire day, understood why we had taken them off the bicycle before they could finish their ride. Safety first, and besides… tomorrow couldn’t be any worse than a blizzard in the desert, could it?