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Day 7: The First Dirty Day

Updated: Aug 28, 2022

After a delicious egg and sausage frittata made by Dana, we headed back to the Jackson Hotel, and I was given a tour. Seventeen years ago, my family took a road trip through Eureka and I have two distinct memories from the Jackson Hotel, where we stayed. The first one was I saw a dead pigeon across the street by one of the bells of the courthouse. The other memory was my first time watching SpongeBob. I didn’t get to watch SpongeBob while I was there, but Dana took me to the exact spot where I remember seeing the pigeon. It was a lot of fun being back again since those are some of my earliest memories! Thank you Dana and Ed!

Some more fun photos later and it was time to head out. A film crew was coming in just another hour and Dana and Ed still made time for me to stay with them and also to show me around Eureka. Lovely people.

The wind had largely subsided, and the air was cool. A quick climb to 7,400 feet later and I was descending. I had heard passes can be cold, but this was my first experience with it. By the time I reached the bottom I was shaking from head to toe. There was also a car backup due to some extensive roadwork. Luckily for me, I would break from Highway 50 and skip the line as I turned south towards Duckwater.

At this point, everyone I talked to either knew nothing about where I was going or suggested I just stick to the road and not visit Duckwater. This included a man who I believe was the Eureka sheriff. He talked to me at the market in town and said to be careful if I went down there. He also let me know that the road I thought was paved was actually dirt... So going into today I now had 70 miles of dirt instead of the 40 I had originally planned.

My background is in mountain biking, so riding on dirt is exactly what I wanted to do. However, today’s ride was supposed to be 106 miles and riding on dirt is fun, but more difficult and far less efficient. It’s why, prior to this trip, my longest ride was only 48 miles…

Luckily, the dirt road to Duckwater was superb and I still made pretty good time. There wasn’t so much as a single car going my direction on the road the entire 37 miles to Duckwater. Because of the lack of traffic, and being in the middle of nowhere, I listened to music for the first time on my trip and the miles went by faster than I expected. I was very happy with my decision to ride to Duckwater, despite the worries of the locals.

I mean, just look at the road! It could only be better if it were paved!

I heard that at the Duckwater reservation, the Shoshone Tribe had closed everything down for visitors due to COVID and who can blame them. So while I didn’t get to see the hot springs and decided not to visit the town since they clearly didn’t want people coming and I had enough water, the trip was still worth it just for the road! Hopefully future riders will be able to have an even better experience.

Past Duckwater I arrived at Currant. Or at least, what was once Currant. Nothing looked inhabited. There was a parked car though, and I asked the driver if there was any water in town. He said no, and if he had any water he would give it to me, but he didn’t. At this point I had 3 bottles left and around 42 miles of dirt riding to go before I reached Hot Creek Campground in the middle of the desert. I could bail here and go up the Highway towards Ely, and avoid more dirt in the middle of nowhere, but by this point you should know what I decided.

Initially, everything was great. The road was pretty good, although washboardy in places. But eventually I reached a point where my GPS took me off the nice road and onto a side road. My number one concern with dirt roads was not the remoteness, or the extra ware on my gear (which is supposed to take me 4000 miles,) but rather that the road would look good initially and then turn into sand, which will leave any biker completely stranded. It’s only then that one is concerned with the remoteness, when you're forced to walk your bike and gear. The road suggested by my GPS looked like it might be one of the roads that could strand you. Remembering when my GPS did that to me before on my way to Fallon, I decided to look for an alternate route.

On the map I thought I found a good option. A road under the series of power lines that stretched for miles. It was likely made for maintenance and seemed better than the alternative besides one section which showed it not connecting… I figured it was probably just a map error and set off under the power lines. Well, as you probably saw coming, it was not a map error.

I found myself looking at a small mountain (large hill?) regardless, the road ended before it. I was already a couple miles along this road and my map showed it continuing once over the hill, so I got off my bike and carried/pushed it over the steep hill and through the shrubbery. The majority of the time I was carrying my bike on my back and I couldn't tell you whether hiking in my biking shoes gave me more or less traction as I climbed up the loose dirt. I was absolutely drenched in sweat. Part way up the steepest section of the hill I found a deer horn bleached by the sun. Bad sign?

I finally get the bike and gear over the hill and luckily the map was correct and the road continued. Although, it wasn’t as nice as when I first set off on it. Some sections were the sand I dreaded and I’m forced off the bike. However, they were generally pretty short and I could ride again soon after.

Even when I could ride, the soft soil made every pedal stroke difficult. I had also ridden 90 miles already and was pretty tired. As you can see in the photo, despite a fairly early departure it was getting late in the day. I needed to camp soon, but I also needed water, which wouldn’t be anywhere besides the campground in the middle of otherwise inhospitable desert.

But finally, after a few more miles of barely making it through sand and nearly crashing several times as I sank into surprise patches, I was through the gates of my campground. I picked the first campsite I came to, made myself a hot meal of chili and then soup and went to bed.

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Hi Pete - enjoying your daily blog and am the edge of my seat waiting to read what adventures are around the next corner! Really proud of you and quite admire your sheer tenacity! Stay safe and keep hydrated - you’re doing a fantastic job! Much love, Auntie Kris

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Thank you! Excited for Utah!


Byron May
Byron May
Jun 12, 2021

Fantastic ‘Wanted’ poster Peter. Please be careful out there!

Replying to

I always am, right?

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