Desert riding on The Lonliest Highway

Day 11: Austin to Eureka
71 miles

Austin itself doesn’t offer much. We ate, we slept, we moved on. But Austin does mark the western end of what I think is the most beautiful part of highway 50 through Nevada. Austin is half way up a steep pass that marks a dramatic change in the landscape. As you ascend there are more trees (pinion, and bristlecone at the higher elevations), creeks and flowers still in bloom.

This part of Highway takes you over a series of mountain ranges. We didn’t realize it but Nevada is the most mountainous state in the continental USA. There are literally hundreds of small ranges running North and South throughout the entire state. Today we crossed three before rolling into Eureka.

So, we are settling into our normal pattern for desert bicycling.

  • Up at 5AM
  • Shower, yoga and cereal in the room
  • On the road by 6-6:15
  • Second breakfast of peanut butter and banana sandwiches around 9AM on some mountain pass
  • Pre-lunch of PB or Salami sandwich around 11AM
  • Roll into a new town between 12-1
  • Check in, shower and have a real lunch
  • Relax, enjoy, sightsee or nap till dinner time

It is rough.

Eureka is a pretty friendly town. There is a real grocery-general store / Big Game museum, a couple of decent restaurants (the Owl Casino and another that was closed that day) and even a local theatre company. There is a also historical self guided walking tour you can take of the town, which we kinda-sorta did in typical coastal turbo fashion.

Day 12 Eureka to Ely
78 miles and four passes

Yet another beautiful cycling day. Where else can you cycle all day in perfect 80 degree weather down a well paved, smooth surfaced interstate and run into only 2-3 cars and trucks an hour. On descents, from time to time we just take the road for a few miles, like 8 to 10 miles!

Ely itself was kind of a disappointment. It is a major crossroads with a larger population than most places we had been recently. So we figured that there would be more to do there, better restaurants and grocery stores etc. We decided to take a rest day here.

Day 13 Ely, NV
Rest Day

Hmm. What can I say about Ely. Not too much.


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