September 29, 2015 – Overcast, 80 degrees
Miles Today: 88
Miles to Date: 7,766
States to Date: 25
‘The usual’ at Red Hut Cafe in Carson City is the definitive carb load: a pair of sunny side fried eggs with hashbrowns plus biscuits with gravy. After that fuel, I was ready to roll back into California, along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas.
The best way to appreciate mountains on a bicycle is to glide beside them rather than pedal through them. Today I got my preferred arrangement at the start and end of my day. Carson Valley is broad and flat, with dynamic mountains rising to the west. The shoulder on US 395 is good, so I focused to my left and hardly noticed all the traffic on the busy road.
Minton is a cute town with a vintage gas station. In true Nevada fashion, it’s been renovated into a casino.
On my first rise of the day I stopped to shift from morning windbreaker mode to daytime sunblock mode when I ran into two senior citizens in a cruiser marked ‘Volunteer’. Turns out Douglas County has a full crew of retired police (or wannabe police) who volunteer to patrol the area, check on vacationer’s houses, and investigate suspicious VIN’s. Don and Nancy looked very official and clearly enjoyed keeping Nevada safe. Before I continued on, a local cyclist came upon me and recommended I stop at Walker Burger for lunch.
After that break, and anticipating a good burger, the ride over the ridge and into Antelope Valley was a breeze. Topaz Lake, on the Nevada/California border is spectacular. I’ve decided a cyclist can smuggle any kind of vegetable into California: today was my third pass through border inspection and I got a ritual wave through. I’d logged over 50 miles when I got to Walker Burger; I was hungry. Unfortunately, it’s closed on Tuesday. That left a general store with fewer choices than a 7-11. I opted for a favorite fallback when I need energy, calories, protein and hydration: a quart of chocolate milk plus a banana and a donut. It’s weird, but it covers all the bases.
My improvised lunch did the trick. I climbed eighteen miles through a steep canyon, across sage-covered hills, and between jagged peaks before I crossed Devil’s Gate Pass and sailed twelve miles down to Bridgeport. Once again, I was treated to majestic mountains on my left as I rode along a verdant, level meadow.
My tent cabin at Virginia Creek Lodge was love at first sight. Why don’t other places have these? Super cute, affordable, clean, and functional. I settled in and enjoyed a good shower at the camp building. On my way to dinner, the sky shed the day’s grey clouds and glowed in the sunset. The lodge restaurant is quite good: I finally got that burger I’d craved all day.