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Vegas or Bust! – Day 7 : Airbnb, Baker, CA > Buffalo Bill’s Resort, Primm, NV

A couple days back I posted on Instagram a picture of me on the side of the road fixing a flat with the caption, “Bikepacking/touring isn’t always beautiful scenery and epic riding.” I’ve also mentioned that it isn’t “always beautifully laid out dishes” when it comes to eating. To go along with that theme not every day is easy, and today was probably the most difficult so far.

I set an alarm last night for 4:00. It typically takes me an hour to get ready to roll from a hotel stay which would have me rolling around 5:00. There is a distinct lack of breakfast joints in Baker open at that hour so Chevron breakfast it was.

I rode the quick mile over to Chevron in complete darkness. The skies were barely starting to brighten with the rising sun. As I pulled up I saw that this Chevron was more like a “Travel Plaza” with a few different restaurants attached. I was kinda miffed to see a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf included. If I had only known that yesterday!

I park Shadow and went inside. I started by loading up my Camelback and water bottles with ice and water and put them back with Shadow. With that chore out of the way, I went back inside and grabbed a can of Starbucks, a package of mini donuts, a danish, a banana, and a protein bar. I paid, went outside, pulled up a curb, and sat down to enjoy breakfast. While I sat eating a couple guys who saw me and the Shadow asked, “Where you coming from?” I wish I had kept a count of how many conversations have started with that question on this trip.

Today’s ride started with a bang. Right out of the starting block there was the Halloran Summit climb out of town. It was a grueling 17.5 mile climb up 2,900 feet. It just went on forever and ever. I eventually got into a good ride rhythm. I tried to stay in the saddle as long as comfort would allow and when needed change up and get out of the saddle for a bit. This system worked really well for today’s climbing.

While I was climbing, on two occasions I heard an intermittent scratching/scraping sound. The first time I could see a piece of wire in my front tire. I stopped, pulled it out, and kept riding hoping it hadn’t punctured the tube. The second time was the rear, and, again, I stopped, pulled out a wire, and rode on on hope.

When I finally reached the start of the Halloran Summit exit I stopped and checked the air pressure on the rear. It had started feeling and lookong soft, but than again after you pull something out of your tire it will always feel soft afterwards. I was also thinking I don’t want to be riding the descent to Cima Road and have it suddenly give up on me. Well my suspicions proved valid as it was down 20 pounds. I took the exit to have a safe place to swap the tube and get some pictures while I was at it.

Half an hour later I was rolling again enjoying the sweet sweet descent to Cima Road. I had a great rip for those seven miles. Sure it wasn’t as fast or as long as some of the other descents from this trip, but damn did that wind feel good going through my baselayer.

Along the descent to Cima Road a CHP officer went flying by with lights on and I said out loud, “Smokey got him one.” A short while later a dark ambulance went by. Next a dark fire engine rolled through. Now this is the most emergency equipment I’ve seen rolling out here in a while. I thought to myself, “Hope everyone is okay.”

Next up was the climb to Mountain Pass. While this climb isn’t nearly as difficult as Halloran Summit, it was now more than a few degrees warmer than when I was climbing Halloran and I was carrying all the fatigue as well. It went really well and as I neared the top it got easier? If the myWindsock data is to be believed, the wind was swirling around Clark Mountain and creating a tailwind near the summit. Whatever it was I’ll take it.

Approaching the summit, I again grew paranoid about my rear tire. It was looking fine but with another big descent coming up I was anxious about it so I planned on stopping to check it near the brake check area. For the life of me I can’t remember if I stopped or not, but, regardless, shortly after passing the brake check area the rear completely deflated. It went while I was traveling close to 30 MPH! It was kinda nerve wracking because Shadow went unstable so fast with all the extra baggage. Thankfully I got him stopped without issue.

With this now being the third flat of the trip, and second of the day, I have the “process” dialed. Up front I start by strapping/locking my front brake, unmounting my Garmin, and using the ClickStand to prop Shadow up. Turning to the rear, I remove my camp chair followed by both panniers and lastly the Tailfin. With all the rear luggage removed I carefully flip Shadow over to rest on the hoods and saddle. At this point it’s normal rear tire removal, tube replacement, and tire reinstallation. For the luggage and gear it’s the reverse of removal.

Going over the rear tire looking for anything obvious I saw what looked like a bright shiny piece of metal. At first blush I was thankful I had both tire boots and a spare tire. This thing looked gnarly. It took a little working with my pliers to get it removed but it eventually came out. Once it was freed, and under further examination, it was smaller than I had initially thought and the tire was none the worse for wear. I got Shadow all put back together and started my descent.

After Bailey Road there is a sweeping right hand curve, and as I came around it there was a CHP officer parked on the shoulder with its lights on. I’m thinking, “Great. I hope he isn’t sitting there waiting for me. If not he is going to be a pain in the ass to go around.”

As I got closer, I moved to the right to go around. After passing the officer, I continued around the curve and wow there was a vehicle of some type completely destroyed. I have no clue what happened and I didn’t get a great look at the scene. What I could see is that this minivan/small SUV was a burned out husk of its former self. It also looked like it had rolled over and into the burm to the right.

There was debris everywhere. I start thinking, “Shit. I have one good tube to get me to Primm. I absolutely don’t want to get help now when I’m so close to the finish line. How in the hell am I supposed to get through/around this mess?”

I did a shoulder check and saw there was no one traveling in the #3 lane. Everyone was giving the CHP officer the buffer lane for safety’s sake. I figured fuck it and jumped into the lane long enough to clear the debris, burned out shell, and tow truck. I get back to the shoulder and be damned there is another CHP officer, SUV, and tow truck assisting with the SUV’s flat a short distance ahead. This time I have a few feet of space between them and the white line to skirt past. After clearing them there is yet another SUV on the shoulder also with a flat. I get around them and finally have a “clear” shoulder. I swear after the day I had had up to that point I don’t know how I escaped without another flat. Perhaps the Cycling Gods felt they had given me enough for the day.

With an open descent in front of me, I chose to coast down to the valley floor. It was great to watch the valley open up in front of me as I made the gentle left near Nipton Road. I thought of stopping and taking some pictures, but with Primm in sight and worried about a pointless flat I pushed on.

As I came to the state line I thought, “Oh you’re damn right I’m getting a picture with that sign possible flat be damned.” Of course I wasn’t the only one with that idea. The other small group just finished as I pulled up. I parked Shadow under the “Welcome to Nevada” sign and took his picture. Then I turned the camera on myself and recorded a quick video about it and falling apart at the end.

I grab Shadow and start walking back to the freeway. I swing my leg over and be damned if when I look down there is a penny looking up at me.

Now since leaving Yermo I’ve avoided picking up any coins I’ve seen along the interstate. I’m sure I could stop and pick them up, but something about the idea of picking up change for a running joke while riding on the interstate just feels wrong? Disrespectful? Like I’m not taking it seriously? So I made the conscious decision to play it safe and leave any coins I spotted. And let me tell you I’ve seen quite a few today alone.

So to look down and have this penny sitting right there just absolutely made my day. I laughed. I cried. I said, “Of course you’d be right there, of course.”

After a very brief ride on the freeway, I exited onto Primm Boulevard. The plan is to stay at Buffalo Bill’s tonight, but I went south to check out the lottery store. I figure if it didnt look too bad I’d pull a couple Powerball and Mega Millions tickets. When I saw the line wrapped around the building I said, “Awe hell no” and finished looping around the outlet mall.

Coming back around I pulled in to the Starbucks for a coffee pick me up and some food. I sat for probably 30 minutes before I decided to migrate over to the hotel lobby. I could have hung out at Starbucks for longer, but this location wasn’t really setup to lounge around in and I didn’t like the idea of leaving Shadow out under the searing sun.

I made the quick ride over to the hotel and setup shop in the lobby while waiting for my room. I’ve already checked in online, I’m just waiting for the text message saying it’s ready. In the meantime, all this downtime has given me the great opportunity to get all this written down! I’ve gone ahead and changed my shoes and busted out my camp chair for the wait. I would really like to get out of my kit, but I’m too lazy to get up and I don’t want to leave Shadow unsupervised. I’m not going to have Shadow grow legs this late in the trip, call me paranoid.

That just about wraps up today, it was far from an “ideal” bikepacking/touring day for sure. Gas station breakfast. Headwinds. Climbing. Two flats. Interstate riding. Car fires. Debris. Fear of falling short so close to the end. But, at the end of it all, a sign saying, “Welcome to Nevada” and a bright shiny penny brings it all back into perspective, “You’ve done good kid.” I’ve been incredibly blessed on each and every day of this trip, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow and finally getting home!

New bike fund: $22.17 (+$0.01)
51.34 new miles — From
Clear-Sunny, 80°F-95°F, Feels like 77°F-104°F, Humidity 20%-11%, Wind S 5mph-SW 3mph – by
myWindsock Report —
Weather Impact: 3.9%
Headwind: 86% @ 3.5-19.7mph
Longest Headwind: 03h 0m 17s
Air Speed: 12.7mph
Temp: 70.2-97.8°F
Precip: 0% @ 0 Inch/hr
— END —

Total distance: 52.18 mi
Max elevation: 4448 ft
Min elevation: 982 ft
Total climbing: 4299 ft
Total descent: -2670 ft
Total time: 06:53:38
Published inCycling

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