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  1. #1
    Hooked on Touring
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    Biking Across Nevada

    Howdy -

    I've biked across Nevada a half dozen times and would highly recommend it for those who are looking for empty roads and wide open vistas. It is, however, extremely remote. Nevada touring is not for the beginner.

    I'm curious about other folks who have ridden across the state. The Western Express Route sends you along US 50. I've done that road twice and I know the state has nicknamed it "The Loneliest Road" - but based on my experience (and traffic volume data) US 6 has less than half the traffic of US 50 - many stretches with 200 cars per day. What's more, US 6 is a great route that connects up with Calif 120 and takes you into Yosemite National Park over Tioga Pass. Either route is tough going west with prevailing west winds - although I've had my share of east winds when I was heading east - this year in particular.

    What's of greatest concern for the cyclist is water. Between Tonopah and Ely on US 6 - it's 168 miles. The only public establishment is a little gas station/store at Lockes halfway between the two. It's actually someone's house with a room added to do business as needed. The rest area at Saulsbury Wash doesn't have water, but you can usually wait for an RV to come along and beg some. There's a ranch near the road in the Stone Cabin Valley. The bar at Warm Springs is long abandoned. The pool is still there with a fence and a big "No Trespassing" sign - but there's an even bigger hole in the fence. Even filtered, I wouldn't drink this water - sulphury - yeech! Next, there's a road crew station at Blue Jay and a ranch house nearby where you can ask for water. After Lockes, the bar/restaurant at Currant is shut down. There are a couple of trailers out back where ranch crews live. If someone is home, they'll give you water. Finally, there's the little community of Lund a few miles off the highway just before you climb up to Ely.

    Oh yes - the casino on the California border is now closed as is the Mizpah Hotel. And Coaldale Jct is abandoned, as well. Did I say empty?? I really do prefer US 6. It's some of the best touring in the United States. If you've done it - what do you think?

    Best - J

    P.S. If you take US 6 please be careful when you are near Area 51 or you just might get abducted by aliens.

  2. #2
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    Across Southern Nevada

    Hey, thanks so much for the info on hiway 6. I'm going to ride it west to east as part of an ambitious summer loop. I'm not going to follow it north, however, but instead head SE on Hiway 93 thru Calente, and then east on 318 at Panaca, with the idea of picking up the AC Western Express in Cedar City, UT. Any experience with this route?

  3. #3
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    Hey - Are you leaving from Santa Cruz?
    Cause if you are you can follow my route over Panoche Pass to Chowchilla and Yosemite.
    If you can do a wee bit of dirt - like 4 miles - White Rock Road in the foothills of the Sierras is off the charts.

    Anyhoo, once you get to Tonopah you should consider having someone stash water for you at Warm Springs. The tavern there is long closed. I once used the phone, but that's long gone, too. There is no water at the picnic area at Saulsbury Wash (25 mi), however, you may be able to bum some if somebody else stops there. Even though the sign says "No Trespassing" a lot of folks avail themselves of the warm pool at Warm Springs (50 mi). There are trees and shade, too. You may be able to bum water here, too.

    Ain't nothing all the way thru Railroad Valley to Rachel (112 mi) - gotta stop at the cafe - Little Alien - the store is tiny - two or three sodas and a few candy bars. It another 36 mi to the Hwy 93 Junction (148 mi) but there is nothing there. Ash Springs is five miles south. There is, however, a fabulous natural spring on your right just before you get to the junction. You can tell because of all the trees. Fabulous cool water gushing out of the ground. BTW, Hancock Summit is a steep climb, then it's a fast downhill to the junction. 42 more miles to Caliente (190 mi) first a gentle summit, then a higher one with shade on top, then a great, long downhill into Caliente. Old RR town. Grocery store, cafes, nice town park. That's the toughest stretch.

    Cathedral Gorge State park has nice camping and showers 15 miles north of Caliente. C-store at Panaca Jct. Nice little grocery in Panaca. Pretty steady climb up to Panaca Summit - not much downhill. The old store in Modena is gone - it was great. You should be able to get water from someone in town - if someone is in town. Beryl Jct has a nice little Mexican Cafe. Then it's a slight climb and slight downhill into Cedar City.


  4. #4
    weirdo
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    Mike, have you looked at John Egan`s tour logs on CGOAB? I have aver 20 years of desert ratting in NV (mostly with no bicycle involved) and this guy`s knowledge amazes me! Super good reading, too. Here`s one that deals with the area you`re talking about, click his name for more- he has at leas one more.
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...oc_id=815&v=Z0

  5. #5
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    Jamawani happens to be one in the same with the guy who did the CGOAB journals.

    Here's the other journal -
    It's actually closer to the route you are doing.

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=26340&v=QM

    PS - I've biked across Nevada seven times and will be doing it again soon.
    Really, really remote this time.
    Last edited by jamawani; 05-06-08 at 01:27 AM.

  6. #6
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
    Jamawani happens to be one in the same with the guy who did the CGOAB journals.
    Ah. Ya know- I kind of wondered about that when I read about the hole bigger than the sign at Warm Springs and about sending water ahead from Tonopah. Then I decided the writing style wasn`t the same and that Jamawani must have just taken the other fellow`s line. Should have hung on to my first thought
    Nice logs- thanks for posting them.

  7. #7
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    You guys are making me so want to return to Nevada and ride Highway 50 and just meander the side roads. I love that state for its' remoteness and preserved, abandonded history all over the place. It's like being an archeologist travelling thru a recently deserted culture IMO. so much stuff just lying around to look at...

    Lived in Eureka (Alpine Lodge!) for a couple of years in the mid 80's and explored regionally by bike and foot. I have no recent beta to add to the discussion though.

    Damn. Nevada is just so wide open.

  8. #8
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    Thank you, jamawani, and everyone else who replied. I am pouring over your journals. I love the photos, and the information is priceless. Yes, I am leaving from Santa Cruz, and I will take a close look at your route.

    I plan to continue across Utah and part of Colorado, then pick up the GDBR and head north. I'll continue up the GDBR until time runs out and I have to head back west toward home. I'm hoping to make it as far as the Lewis & Clark route before turning west, but that is the most ambitious scenario.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikehdsn View Post
    Thank you, jamawani, and everyone else who replied. I am pouring over your journals. I love the photos, and the information is priceless. Yes, I am leaving from Santa Cruz, and I will take a close look at your route.

    I plan to continue across Utah and part of Colorado, then pick up the GDBR and head north. I'll continue up the GDBR until time runs out and I have to head back west toward home. I'm hoping to make it as far as the Lewis & Clark route before turning west, but that is the most ambitious scenario.
    When are you leaving?
    Mountain bike?

    I've done that loop - of variations thereof three times.
    Definitely consider cutting down in southern Utah to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
    The North Rim has very few visitors compared to the South Rim -
    plus you can go by the backcountry office and get an overnight down at the bottom.
    An easy hike is to Cottonwood - 7 miles - leave in mid-afternoon and stay in the shade the whole time.
    Return the next morning and stay cool.
    Or you can bike out to Point Sublime and camp there.

    There is a shuttle service that can take your bike around
    if you can get a spot at Phantom Ranch or Bright Angel campground to do a crossing.
    14 miles to Phantom, 7 miles up on South Kaibab, 9 miles via Indian Gardens

    The nice thing about this loop is that you have (or should have) great weather most of the way.
    In Calif/Nev the winter rains are over - but it's before the monsoon season in the SW.
    Then you should be O.K. in the high country in Colorado by late June -
    but above 10,000 ft there will be snow and mud.
    It will be fabulous in the Northern Rockies - afternoon showers are common tho.

    I like going as far east as northern New Mexico - Taos is a great town.
    If you can do dirt - really think about Chaco Canyon - it's tough getting there but worth it.

    Here's a crazyguy loop I did in 2005
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=1168&v=sF

  10. #10
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    Southern Nevada, etc.

    Hey jamawani,
    I'm planning to leave on June 6, assuming I can get my grades in by the 5th (I'm a teacher). I'm riding a mt bike and pulling a BOB. I've done a lot of road touring, but always on a traditional touring bike, so this is rather new and exciting.
    On this tour, water (obviously) is a big issue. Approximately how much water would you estimate a rider needs per day in southern Nevada? I'm aware that this is rather a bad (stupid?) question, and I know there are tons of variables here, but I'm just looking for a figure as a starting pt for calculations.
    Thanks again for being so incredibly generous with information, tips, etc. I had been somewhat worried about this leg of the trip; now I feel much more confident.

  11. #11
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Go sag. What's the problem. Out there on the range. Bike isolation. Difficult to find better cycling. Our Nevada crossing was on US 50. Rarely does one feel that they have the road to themselves. I still took a mirror. You can see the car coming at you from 5 miles back. Be prepared, because when you finally meet up with a car, it likely will be going about 90. Same for trucks.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living









    ^ Since June 16, 2011

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    mikehdsn -- Be careful if you put a lot of extra water/extra weight in the trailer, I did that and had very bad handling problems. If you get a "tail wagging the dog" feeling, pay attention to it - redistribute weight or unload something. Read the instructions that came with the trailer (wish i had).

    I used to live in Santa Cruz... love it!

    If you end up in Boulder, gimme a shout-out, i might be here (or might be on the road). Boulder = Santa Cruz w/o the ocean and with bigger mountains.
    ...

  13. #13
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    I'm no longer a college teacher -
    I was only adjunct and the money was so minimal -
    However, I always put far too many hours in -
    So it came out to minimum wage with no benefits.
    First year not doing it - so it seem a bit strange, still.
    Of course, we had semesters - so were out by May 15th.
    And I'm still in the mid-May cycling time frame.

    About Nevada - It really is no big deal.
    I carry 4 water bottles - two tall bike bottles and two liters in back.
    For long stretches, I add one or two extra bottles - Aquafina or Gatorade.
    Helpful Hint #285 - use a pair of socks around you downtube bottles
    If you keep the socks wet, you will have chilled water all day.
    Especially in Nevada and the Southwest.

    I thought you were leaving a little earlier.
    By mid June it will be a chunk hotter in Nevada than in May.

    You will need to start thinking about water in Lee Vining.
    It's a long empty stretch over to Benton where there is a cafe/store.
    The casino on top of Montgomery Pass is closed -
    But the motel part is still open?? You MAY be able to get water there.
    Nothing at all in Basalt. The Coaldale is abandoned and derelict.
    It doesn't make sense for cyclists or drivers, but the rest stop is 10 miles from Tonopah.
    Shade and drinking water - dirty bathrooms.
    So you are looking at a 70-miles stretch from Benton to the rest stop.
    60 miles if there is somebody at the motel on top of the pass.

    I really like Tonopah - I wish the Mizpah Hotel were reopened.
    Years ago I was in it - it's a classic of the West.
    Then it's 110 miles to Rachel - no services at Warm Springs.
    Like I said earlier - make a sign beforehand.
    "Can You Drop Off H2O at Warm Springs" with big letters.
    Other options include leaving super early -
    spending the middle of the day in the shade at Warm Springs -
    then cycling in the latter part of the day to Rachel.
    Still - 110 miles is a killer day.
    I camped in the Railroad Valley my last trip - beautiful.

    From Rachel to Caliente it is 80 miles with a big climb over Hancock Pass.
    Plus smaller climbs at Coyote, Pahroc, and Oak Springs.
    Once you get to Caliente, the tough part is over.

    Pic - Railroad Valley

    Best - J



    PS - Do you know anyone at UC Davis who I could leave my truck with all summer?

  14. #14
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
    I carry 4 water bottles - two tall bike bottles and two liters in back.
    For long stretches, I add one or two extra bottles - Aquafina or Gatorade.
    Helpful Hint #285 - use a pair of socks around you downtube bottles
    If you keep the socks wet, you will have chilled water all day.
    Especially in Nevada and the Southwest.
    So, about 1.5 Gal per day is suficient in your experience? That`s for wind, no shade, day time pedaling, I assume? I`m not clear on much you try to start off with to split the Tonopah/Rachel leg, so that`s where my guess comes from. Less than what I would have thought but I`m just now gathering info to give it a shot- haven`t done any long distances without internal combustion pulling me along.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    So, about 1.5 Gal per day is suficient in your experience? That`s for wind, no shade, day time pedaling, I assume? I`m not clear on much you try to start off with to split the Tonopah/Rachel leg, so that`s where my guess comes from. Less than what I would have thought but I`m just now gathering info to give it a shot- haven`t done any long distances without internal combustion pulling me along.
    If I hydrate well in Tonopah - but not overhydrate - I set out in the a.m. - drink one bottle on the way over McKinney Summit to Saulsbury Rest Stop (25 miles). Then have a whole bottle in the shade there. Then have another bottle over Saulsbury Summit and Warm Springs Summit (25miles). That's only three bottle and I have three left. Plus, I've sent a gallon ahead.

    *** About the gallon you send ahead. Mark that it is for a cyclist - i.e. "Please! Save for cyclist." - then ask that the person leaves it in the shade behind the store to the right.

    That means you can have another bottle of water at Warm Springs and still have 6 bottles when you head out towards Rachel. If you camp in Railroad Valley, you can have one bottle for the 30 miles of riding, one bottle in the evening, plus one bottle for the next morning. That still give you three bottles to make 30 miles into Rachel.

    No problem.

    If, for some reason, your water isn't at Warm Springs - you can beg from people who stop to check their maps, take a photo, etc. I would guess that a car stops every 15 minutes or half hour. Not much, but enough. Or you can do the old "water bottle in left hand held out perpendicularly" trick as you are riding to beg water from passers by.

    I had people offer me water, cokes, beer, oranges, cookies - you name it.
    When you are biking across remote Nevada, folks are generous.
    Last edited by jamawani; 05-10-08 at 05:57 PM.

  16. #16
    weirdo
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    Thank you, Jamawami. Sounds like you have a good method planned out for that stretch. One of these days I`d love to take 6/375 across the state, maybe even cut up from Pioche to GBNP on the ranch roads and back home on 50. For now, I have it in my head that I need to ride home from Winnemucca via Jungo, Sulphur, Gerlach, Smoke Creek and Flannigan. The Wmca-Glch stretch is the longest, at about 100 mi with no potable water. From Gerlach to Doyle, CA there`s one good spring and one almost year round creek. I have a BOB on order and figure to do several shakedown trips in easier terrain- probably start with some weekends in Sierra Valley and the surrounding lumber roads and I`ll try my Winnemucca-Reno route in Oct if I feel up to it, next year if I feel like I need more practice first. Thank you for your insight and happy pedalling.

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    Sounds like a fun ride--I'll either do this next year to visit some friends in CA or go east to Colorado. You say US 6 is lonelier than 50--is it as scenic? I guess one advantage of taking 6 is that you get to pass through Yosemite if you're entering CA.

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    rabbit hole, trego

    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    The Wmca-Glch stretch is the longest, at about 100 mi with no potable water. .
    Not quite true... there's Rabbit Hole and Trego Springs. And Hycroft Mine. And several farms just off the road. Not too far to McFarland's Bathhouse ftom Sulphur. ANYWAY it's actually a lot nicer to ride the Applegate-Lassen Trail with the Nobles cutoff. Jungo road is horrible on a bike. The smaller tracks are smoother (no washboards!), more scenic, faster, and ultimately way more fun.If you ride the trail, then add Antelope Springs and one more (name escapes me) for a total of four good water holes including Rabbithole and Trego from Winnemucca to Gerlach. Trego also a gteat place to take a bath, of course :-)

  19. #19
    weirdo
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    Wow, blast-from-the-past thread.
    Quote Originally Posted by hkingman View Post
    Jungo road is horrible on a bike. The smaller tracks are smoother (no washboards!), more scenic, faster, and ultimately way more fun.
    I believe that! I did end up riding the Wmcca-Glch-Reno route shortly after this thread`s first appearance. It was one of my first multi day rides, and I`ve since learned that dirt roads are often more bike tire friendly than "major" gravel routes.

    Out of curiosity, are you the eternal Warm Showers rep from Winnemucca? If so, any chance that your father or other relation with same last name was the fith grade teacher at the local elementary school in the mid 70s?
    Warning: I`ve got a 24t granny ring and I ain`t afraid to use it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Wow, blast-from-the-past thread.
    I believe that! I did end up riding the Wmcca-Glch-Reno route shortly after this thread`s first appearance. It was one of my first multi day rides, and I`ve since learned that dirt roads are often more bike tire friendly than "major" gravel routes.

    Out of curiosity, are you the eternal Warm Showers rep from Winnemucca? If so, any chance that your father or other relation with same last name was the fith grade teacher at the local elementary school in the mid 70s?
    C'est moi. That's quite a route choice for a beginning bike tourist. With nearly 2,000 posts, I guess you weren't forever put off bike touring by the choice!

    I've never taken the route through Flanagan, but have done the more northern route over Robber's Roost and to Susanville and on to Chico three times. I'm pretty sure it's the easiest route from Winnemucca to California. Although if you don't mind climbing, the route route through Carson, Ebbets Pass, California Grade to Jackson is nice as well. At either Chico or Jackson, you're within the California Amtrak network, so can basically get anywhere with your bike for next to no money.

  21. #21
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    This makes our touring in PA/NY/VT look so simple! Thanks for a glimpse of what lies beyond should we venture that far. You now have me thinking about it...

  22. #22
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    Mizpah

    Quote Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
    Yes, indeed:

    http://mizpahhotel.net/Press/ETB_Miz...pens_27Apr.pdf

    I always wanted to stay there. And while 50 has more mountain passes, I'll bet 6 usually has better weather/less wind/fewer cars, as Op notes.

    Rodar y rodar, are you the former w.s. host at a small rural H.C. ranch? Just a guess... but not too many crazies out riding these great Nevada gravel highways.

  24. #24
    weirdo
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    That wasn`t me. I`m Brian D in Lemmon Valley, northern outskirts of Reno. Hadn`t noticed that the guy you mention is now off the list. Maybe he`s staying at the Mizpah now!
    Warning: I`ve got a 24t granny ring and I ain`t afraid to use it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    That wasn`t me. I`m Brian D in Lemmon Valley, northern outskirts of Reno. Hadn`t noticed that the guy you mention is now off the list. Maybe he`s staying at the Mizpah now!
    i was in there, for breakfast, not too long after it reopened a year or so ago.

    nice place, but i find it difficult to understand how anybody would think such a nice (read expensive) place could make a go of it in Tonopah. is it public, city, or community funded?

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