Death Valley Challenge
Day 4: Furnace Creek to Pahrump
Another glorious morning weather wise was celebrated with another sugar laden breakfast. The first part of today’s ride was uphill but not as severe as gradients of previous days. We had 19 miles to go from -167’ to 3000’. We only had four miles to go before we were stopping at a ‘scenic view point’. I was wary of what this could be as in all honesty the scenery to me was beginning to look the same – rocks ! I have to say though Zabriskie Point was pretty spectacular.
The actual vista was of yet more rocks but these ones were a lot prettier. Millions of years of water, volcanos etc. had left this stunning landscape.
At one of the morning stops we were visited by a couple of American cyclists who were intrigued as to where we were headed. Eccentric is a word that could easily describe the couple. The guy spent a good ten minutes rattling off his achievements, including many world records for endurance cycling. His wife had that look of having heard it all before and kept trying to get him to shut up, but when he got into his stride there was no stopping him. I’m not sure how but he got onto the topic of flying jet planes in which discipline he held another world record. Still, they were good entertainment.
After the break James and Phil set off just before me and a small gap quickly became quite large. I didn’t have the inclination to put in the effort to catch them so for a while pedalled along alone. I think Phil used this opportunity to ask James for his daughter's hand in marriage. I was perfectly happy dawdling along at a sedate pace but wish that I'd put my iPod in my back pocket like others had done. Before lunch I was caught by some others and we rode the last couple of miles into Amargosa with Andrew, Matt & Ken.
I could try hard but no words will ever be able to explain Amargosa. It truly is unique (or maybe not). It consists of a gas station (closed), an opera house (closed), a post office (closed), but the amenities open were an art gallery and a hotel / museum. Word had got out that the hotel sold cold cans of soda (pop). I was inside the hotel for a good ten minutes before a receptionist appeared and directed me to the fridge in the back room. There nestled between somebody's half-eaten sandwich and an open tub of butter were some cans of Sam’s Cola. Sam wasn’t the owner but the brand of Cola (global sales yet to rival Pepsi, Coke or even Citra).
Chris & Steve up to now had been mainly playing genial hosts and good buddies but this lunchtime showed us they made good support crew/guides. Tom (one of the three young lads) had come off his bike. Tom being Tom insisted it was nothing but he had quite a nasty spot of gravel rash.
Despite Allwin insisting she was in possession of a Girl Guides First Aid badge it was Chris who gamely administered the ointment and applied the bandages. The next problem was Neil. Neil was a member of one of the other male trios. These three weren’t so young and pretty, but collectively I had christened them ‘The cockney winkers’ (might need a spell check on that). The other two were concerned at how Neil was. He was sat under one of the trees and complaining of being cold and dizzy. It was decided that he was suffering from heatstroke and should sit out the next part of the ride and travel in one of the vans. This didn’t sit easily with Neil who felt he was letting people down who had sponsored him. Jim also tried to persuade him to ride in the van but still Neil insisted that he would be okay if he just took it easy.
As we were about to leave the bizarre world of Amargosa a huge sedan car cruised passed with paintwork that would make a Jackson Pollock art piece seem organized, unfortunately I haven’t got a picture as the occupants of the car who didn’t seem to think there was anything out of the ordinary to look at and all our group looked to the skies as they sneered at us.
After lunch Phil decided it was about time he had another puncture. Just as we were setting off after fixing it, Matt caught us up. Matt won the award for the most pedal revolutions in the week. He’s the first to admit he’s not a cyclist (his helmet was smashed, burnt and then thrown out of a 17th storey Vegas hotel window at the end). He insisted he was most comfortable in the lowest gear which meant to get any forward momentum he really had to spin those legs. Anyhow Matt was keen to ride at the front of the group but was worried that he wouldn’t be able to last at the front of our trio. We insisted he was fine to draft along with us three for the rest of the afternoon and that he didn’t need to come to the fore (but we would be looking for liquid payment later that evening).
Our destination for that night was the city of Pahrump. With only a population of 41,000 I’m sure we would call it a town. On previous trips Chris & Steve had said there had been problems navigating through the busy streets so we were told to meet up at a supermarket on the outskirts and we would all cycle together between the two vans to Best Western. At the supermarket Matt made good on his payment and bought us a Coke. It was an entertaining wait as we watched the comings and goings of traffic and people, the numbers of which we hadn’t seen for a few days.
After getting showered and changed, Phil and I had some time to kill before we were due to meet for dinner. Having decided that American TV was crap and/or adverts we decided to go for a cheeky beer. After a bit of arm twisting I persuaded Phil to give the hotel bar a miss and venture across the street to ‘Arnie’s Cocktail Lounge’. It seemed a good opportunity to try something a bit less sterile. What a place! As this was Nevada there were ashtrays and electronic gaming machines on the bar top, American sport on each of the ten televisions and both types of beer (Bud & Bud light). Up to that point it was the most entertaining half hour of the trip for me.
Dinner was a Tex Mex buffet across the freeway in a casino. The young lads were ecstatic that there was a soft ice cream machine and couldn’t wait to finish their tacos and see who could get the highest tower with the most hundreds and thousands on. They were equally pleased there was nobody asking for ID so they could have a beer too.
Afterwards Phil and I went back to Arnies. The Cockneys came too. Neil wasn’t 100% but on the mend so he wasn’t going to miss the delight of Arnies (I sold it well during Taco time). We had an enjoyable couple of beers but felt it time to leave when Chris started trying to educate the locals into the laws of Pool.