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Day 8: The Dirty Gets Dirtier

Updated: Aug 28, 2022

I woke up and it was hot. I had waited in Tahoe for a stretch of cooler weather, and it seems like that window is coming to a close.

One issue I’ve run into with minimalistic bike touring is it takes a very long time to pack up. Unlike backpacking, where you can often just throw anything in any order into a pack and it will fit, I have such limited space that every time I need to repack it’s like playing Tetris trying to figure out what needs to go where to minimize space usage. It takes about two hours to get going… Not ideal.

By the time I leave, it’s 10:30 AM. I was supposed to make 104 miles today with another 45 miles of dirt. It was going to be tough considering how late I was.

I’ve been having issues packing despite having forgot two very important bike maintenance items, my chain lube and tire sealant for my tubeless tires. My chain was bone dry and covered in dust from the previous day and I worried it may be experiencing a lot of ware rapidly because of it. I told myself I would do the smart thing and skip the remote dirt segment I had planned for the day unless the gravel was absolutely pristine...

Anyways... I’m back on the gravel again and it’s going pretty good. I can still hear my chain with every pedal stroke, but how much more damage could 45 miles of dirt do to it anyways?

I knew from looking at my route this morning that I would be back on the road again after those mountains. Not too far. I’m making good time!

I get to the mountains. No road. I look to the horizon and see another range. I look at my map. I look back out to the far off mountains. Damn.

The road is not as nice as I thought either. While I can usually avoid some of the washboard, often I cannot, and I hear my drone smacking around in my bag. After using it later, I think it may be damaged. Hopefully not enough to keep me from getting future shots, but the gimbal is having issues.

After what seemed like the longest 40 miles ever, I am riding over the right mountains, and I finally see paved road. Now it’s only another 12 miles to Pioche where I’ll have food and water access. I stop for lunch and I’m dead tired already. It’s only been about 60 miles and I was supposed to ride another 40 that day. I talk with my parents to figure out an alternative and we decide that I’ll rest at a campground only 10 miles ahead. It’s the first they’ve heard from me in two days as I didn’t have service for basically by whole dirt escapade through the desert.

The campground is really nice. In order to try and get on the road sooner tomorrow, I’m not bothering with a tent tonight, and I’m sleeping under the stars. Hopefully no scorpions climb into my bag in the night! And even more important, maybe I’ll actually be able to start on time tomorrow.

They have showers here, but I didn’t realize until it was dark and after I had rinsed off in a spigot. I’m excited to meet my hosts for tomorrow and to be clean once again!

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