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Day 6: My First Headwinds

Updated: Aug 28, 2022

Day 6 started late. Only 6 days of riding and I feel this is becoming a trend... I left my wonderfully comfortable bed and motel room around 10:45 AM. I knew today was going to be easy since it was just 70 miles from Austin to Eureka. I was going to have a relaxing ride as the temperatures were still fairly good for Nevada in June. I checked the winds last night and I saw they were perpendicular to me, but I figured as long as they weren’t headwinds, they wouldn’t be an issue.

I set off over the Austin pass feeling pretty good. Austin is 6,000 feet above sea level and the pass is 7,400 something, but I didn’t run into any problems with the elevation. I think I’m fairly acclimated at this point. It was on the other side of the pass that I begin experiencing issues...

What I had thought would be a fun two mile descent was instead a hair raising fight against the wind. At this point, because the road was winding through the hills, the wind was a headwind instead of hitting me from the side. So going downhill I was maxing out at 20 Mph simply because the wind wanted to push me right back up the hill. But I could deal with slow speed, it’s the gusts that were particularly scary.

Thank you once again, Charlie, for convincing me to get my sleeping bag off the front of the bike. Despite the smaller surface area, my bags are like sails and the wind would shove me from side to side while I’m trying to descend. I was white-knuckling every turn for fear of the wind lifting me up and making my wheels have less traction, causing me to wipeout.

Eventually, with sore fingers, I made it down into the flats. Here, I knew the wind turned into a side wind, which I thought would be more manageable. That was not the case.

My bags have even more surface area when blown from the side and the wind was even stronger here. On my map it showed the winds as green. It was only after the fact that I realized “green” meant high winds and blue meant low winds…

You can see my setup below and why the wind turned my bags into sails, along with my wheels…

So now I’m biking keeled over like a ship leaning into the wind. It’s like leaning into a door when someone opens it from the other side. When the wind would stop for a second I would fall to my right. However, what was more dangerous were the big gusts that would push me further left and into oncoming traffic as well as cars trying to pass me. These gusts were entirely unpredictable and would often push me 6 feet across my lane. It's not like there's much grass in the Nevada desert to gauge when gusts would come, so I could never really tell when the next gust was coming until I would begin my unintentional lane change.

The riding was tough and exhausting, but eventually the highway bent and the sidewind turned into a powerful tailwind. I found myself going 28 Mph uphill. This was short lived as soon I was back to sidewinds... Towards the end of the day it shifted again, but only into a brutal headwind for the remainder of the ride.

On the way, I did stop to rest as some petroglyphs. No idea what they were depicting, but it was a nice break.

Around 4:30 PM I battle my way to Eureka and find my hosts for the night, Dana and Ed.

Dana is the tourism director for Eureka and is preparing for a car show and video shoot this weekend, but still made time to allow me to stay the night!

Ed creates tall bikes, which are as they sound. These double decker bikes also have all kinds of fun bells and whistles and train horns attached to them. They’re some very interesting contraptions!

They provided me with a great meal and bed, as well as breakfast this morning in preparation for my most remote and difficult segment yet. These will be the roads from Eureka to Hot Creek Campground through the desert. It's also entirely unpaved once I leave the highway... Should be fun!

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