Thursday 12th November
Eureka, NV to Battle Mountain, NV
We were quickly discovering that a problem with riding late in the cold and the dark, is that the following morning you reeeeaally don’t want to get up. I just wanted to snuggle up and enjoy the warmth of the motel room, and not go out in to the cold for another day of freezing cold miles. No such luck though, as we had lots more miles to cover and couldn’t afford another ‘down’ day, so after fuelling up and having a good feed at the nearby Pony Express cafe (excellent food), we hit the road.
We’d barely got out of town when Ed’s bike started playing up, so we pulled in to a lay-by to check it out. It turned out that the carb was playing up because the jet was blocked, so after lots of fiddling around he managed to get it unblocked, and it was 12pm by the time we got going again.
It was a beautifully clear day without a cloud in the sky, and much to my delight the sun had some heat to it. A paved road took us out of town, and then a graded gravel road took us in to the hills, before going up slightly then depositing us down in to a basin. The trail went as far as the eye could see, right up until the mountains that stretch out across the horizon, it was pretty incredible.
Although we didn’t have snow to contend with, it’s after effects were giving us trouble. It had melted, leaving the ground incredibly wet and slippery, which wasn’t so much of a problem for me as it was for Ed. I hadn’t actually noticed that the ground was slippery, until Ed commented again on how lucky I was having three wheels. He was right, I couldn’t believe how all over the place he was as he rode in front, squirming and snaking from left to right. I on the other hand had no trouble going in a straight line, which I happily demonstrated to a rather bemused Ed.
We rode across the basin before the trail went between two ranges, eventually running parallel to the snowy mountains that we’d seen in the distance. It started getting wetter and muddier, and when we stopped for a toilet break I couldn’t believe how heavy my boots were.
It clung to everything like thick sticky clay, and continued to build up with every step and spin of our wheels. It filled in both of our treads so we were essentially riding with road slicks, and then proceeded to get even worse.
Ed was all over the place and it became a real problem at a particularly wet and muddy section. I only just managed to get through, sliding all over the place with my wheels spinning, but I managed to keep moving, albeit sideways. Poor Ed on the other hand didn’t stand a chance.
His wheels were getting completely clogged up and the mud built up so much on his tyres that it completely filled up his wheel arch, preventing the rear wheel from spinning or moving at all. He managed to dig some of the mud out with a stick, but he didn’t get very far before it was stuck again.
His chain was so completely covered that it looked like his bike was belt drive, and as it couldn’t sit on the sprocket properly it made horrible noises as we tried to move the bike. We were well aware that the chain would snap if we continued, so we tried our best to dig it all out again and push it, but it was almost impossible.
After quite some time trying to move it, two guys turned up in separate trucks. They just sat and watched us struggling for a minute or so before getting out and helping, and I had a feeling that they were only helping because we were blocking their way, either that or they had just been sat there trying to process what they were seeing! If it was the latter then I’m going to feel bad about saying that.
Their names were Tim and Paul and they were on a hunting trip, and after a small discussion about what we were up to, all three of them had a go at pushing the bike with little success. It did start moving but the chain started making awful noises again, so Ed asked them to stop to avoid further damage. They then came to the decision that the best thing to do was to put the bike on the back of one of their trucks, as they said there was more mud up ahead and we’d only get stuck again. I could tell that Ed really wanted to get up on to the verge and ride along that way, but seeing as we already had assistance, we would have been stupid not to accept it.
We rode in convoy with me on the trike in the middle, with all of us slithering and sliding in the slippery mud. Ed and his bike were in the truck behind me, and at one point they disappeared. I waited for a while then went back to find them, and later discovered that it was because the guy had seen a fox that he believed was injured. He said it had a limp and that he was going to shoot it, but Ed pointed out that it was walking in deep snow, and every one of its legs went funny at some point, as the snow collapsed beneath it. It took some convincing but he ended up putting his gun away, and left some dog food for it instead. Ed mentioned that it probably wasn’t the best idea to feed wild animals, but was just pleased that he hadn’t ended up shooting it. Little foxy had no idea how close he’d come to going off to foxy heaven!
They drove Ed and his bike through all the mud, and dropped him off where the gravel started. There was a house there with its occupants away, so we borrowed their hosepipe to hose the bikes down. Tim and Paul had a dinner date to get to, so after helping us with the hose down we thanked them for their help, apologised for holding them up, and let them get on their way.
While washing my bike we discovered that my front mud guard had cracked in several places, after being forced up with all the mud that clung to the front wheel. There was nothing we could do about it there, so I just left it and hoped that it was still there at the end of the day.
And after over 8 years of ownership, Ed’s bike finally got its first ‘proper’ wash!
It was 4.30pm by the time we got going again and we worked out that we still had 60 miles to go; and to delay things further Ed’s carb started playing up again. I could tell he’d had enough by then, but he just got on with it, sorting out the problem so we could continue on our way.
Thankfully we soon got on to a wide open gravel road, which was long and fast but it got really cold as the sun set. I had to stop several times to warm my hands on the engine, and as we looked at our options, with the time we had and the distance we had to cover, we decided to come off Sam’s route and take Kevin’s easy option to save us a bit of both.
All was going well until…
…we managed to get stuck in a mine.
It looked like Kevin’s route was slightly out of date, as there was now a massive mine right where his route went through. Already in the mine we kept following his route, which took us round one gate that said ‘STOP’ and ‘DANGER’ on it, and past a massive conveyor belt. Hoping that we’d be able to get out as easily as we’d got in, we somehow managed to end up on the wrong side of a locked ‘ROAD CLOSED’ and ‘DO NOT ENTER’ gate, and with fencing all around us we were trapped.
We quickly turned off our lights and thought about what to do. We could have gone back but that risked getting caught riding round the mine, so Ed took the executive decision to remove two fence posts so we could ride under the fence. We didn’t want to cut or damage anything as then we’d be up for trespassing AND vandalising, so with a lot of wiggling and backward and forward motions, he managed to get the posts out. Ed then held the fence up for me while I rode the trike under it, before following with his bike.
All there was to do then was to put the posts back in with the help of a rock, and ride away as fast as possible.
Relieved to be on the right side of the ‘DO NOT ENTER’ gate, we rode as fast as we could, along a fast and easy graded gravel road, before turning off on to a trail that took us up in to the hills.
It was quite a narrow dirt and gravel trail but fairly easy riding, as it wound up and down and through the hills, with the odd rock here and there. Bushes lined the trail and on several occasions a suicidal furry thing jumped out in front of me, and I slammed on the brakes. Ed found this particularly amusing, as I usually seem to forget that I have brakes when in an emergency situation, however when it comes to a furry thing running out in front of me I have no problem finding them.
It got pretty chilly as time went on, although not as bad as previous nights, and as the trail eventually left the hills, I was happy to see the sprawling city lights of Battle Mountain come in to view.
After a seemingly endless straight of wretched corrugations, we finally arrived in Battle Mountain at 8.30pm, tired, hungry, and ready for a nice warm bed. It turned out that the name ‘Owl’ for businesses was popular in these parts, as we found a room at the Owl casino for $40 with free breakfast. Dinner was cheap too, and after gorging ourselves on protein and carbohydrates, we slipped happily in to food comas and slept like babies.