May 11: From Monitor Valley Rd to Antelope Valley Rd. Total mileage was 35 miles in app. 4 hrs of riding with 3300 feet of elevation gain.

Yea, it’s been a while, and rather than answer many individual emails on what’s up, what happened, and where are you, I figured that I’d just continue the blog and get you caught up on American Dirt NV/CA, and then take you into my next adventure!

With that being said, I’m going to call today my “Reality Check”. 

We got rolling out of Eureka at a descent hour, seeing that I had to wait a bit for the morning low of 27 degrees to bump up a bit for me to ride. So we were on the road by 8 AM, for the 30 mile drive west on Rt 50 and then the LONG 25 mile drive down this Monitor Valley Rd which is a gravel road in a basin. And let me tell you that drive was just forever down this road, a bumpy, dusty, ribbon of gravel that just drifted off into the southern horizon. 

Finally got to my destination, the junction of Monitor Valley and FR001. Now what I’d do here is to ride Monitor Valley north for 12 miles because the following day’s ride would put me back at the junction of Monitor Valley and FR001 - today’s start point. Remember: I’m riding the course backwards so that the ladies know where to pick me up each day. So, anyway, I needed to ride Monitor Valley Rd, otherwise known as Belmont Rd on the NV gazetteer, to the junction with FR004, which would take me across 2 8K passes and to where I began yesterday’s ride at. 

Temp was cool and conditions were ideal to ride - not a cloud in the sky. Got rolling in shorts with a polypro long sleeve top. Things felt pretty good other than my shoulder blades again feeling kind of tight again, something that was becoming more prevalent as this ride’s gone on. But nonetheless, I was able to ride at a good clip of 13-16 mph all the way up Monitor Valley to the FR004 split. Got to the split, bid the ladies goodbye, and was on my lonesome for the next 23 miles with two 8K passes to surmount. 

The climb began gradually, on some pretty good road, but as the miles ticked off the inclination became steeper, and the road deteriorated from a very solid gravel/dirt lane and a half wide road, to a one lane rutted out jeep track. No way in the world would the van halve come close to making this section. So as I climbed higher this stream on the side of the road began to flood over sections, enough so that in certain areas I had to ride across half a foot of water which was 8-10 feet wide. Then there were other areas where it was just rivulets of fast moving water anastromosting across the road like veins and fingers. And this was incessant. As I got higher in altitude this became almost like a flooding situation, and some of the crossings had this really silty muck at the bottom, so I’d have to shift into the little ring and just power through - or else I’d be trapped in the middle of the floodwaters having to dismout. 

Finally got to where this freaking stream veered to the north, out of and away from the road and the climb. By this time I was a good 7.5K high, amidst all this bristlecone pines, really quite beautiful and enjoyable - had the road not really pitched up even higher. So I got to a point to where the pitch was tough, but seemed doable, yet I just had no gas! And I’m thinking to myself, “man, this just isn’t me, what the hell?” So there I am again, hike-a-biking, pushing, stopping, breathing, over and over. I was just so disappointed in my fitness at that point. 

Got to the summit, and I was thinking, “OK, feel like shit but the rest of this pup is down, so I’m good. We’ll just chalk it up as another (yea, one of many thus far) bad days. Strapped my Gopro to me helmet, turned it on, and began the descent - which lasted about 10 minutes. But within that short descent I had to stop to carry the bike over freshly avalanched deadfall and more rivulets of now another stream next to the road, flowing in the opposite direction from the last. But as I said the descent was short, then suddenly I was on this plateau, and cruising over all these rollers and power climbs. 

Stopped, took the GoPro off, got the map out and found that I had a solid 6-7 miles of this which added up to a net gain to put me right back at 8K again. At this point the road was more of a sandy trail with shitty tracking for the mt bike tires, and it was just a ton of up and down rollers. Half way through this my shoulder blades, lats, neck and chest were just tight as hell, almost as if I just had to stop and get that freaking pack off of my back asap or it was going to crush me. And actually I did on several occasions stop, take the pack off and stretch like heck to loosen everything up. What’s more I just felt totally spent. So I pushed on, riding this high plateau track rolling, dipping, climbing, with an overall altitude gain the whole time. It was almost like torture, to feel so out of gas and uncomfortable and then to look at my altimeter and see that I’d only gained like 150 in the last mile or two. 

And it was at this point that I said to myself outloud, “Jesus, I just can’t ride like this for another two weeks. Something’s wrong here.” Seemed like forever, but I eventually got to the second 8K pass, and then began what would be a well deserved descent back into the basin I’d started in yesterday, and where the ladies would be waiting for me. But it wasn’t without some tough riding that’s for sure. I had this power climb/descents that took me across that stream over and over. I mean I’d look off to the right or left and see the track take this steep pitch up, then a steep pitch down and across the stream. Then…I get to a fork in the road where there’s this plastic signage on each fork: to the left dead end; to the right FR004, my route. BUT my gps was telling me to take the left. I’ll admit, that when you’re programing the gps to do a turn by turn of the route for you, YOU create the route, so somehow, I must have used that left branch to finish the descent. 

I know I’ve been blaming all the maps and Google Earth, and Garmin and all the other mapping apps. for problem, but actually when you program a route, YOU’RE the programmer! So when I open up the map in MapMyRide I have to use USGS topo maps, and actually draw the lines myself, which involves bringing the resolution up to as high as it gets. Sometimes what happens is you end up with this mass of tracks criss-crossing everywhere, so it’s hard to delineate what was your original main track, and what’s just these dead-ending wagon wheel tracks. 

So, that all that being said, I kind of figured that I screwed up and took the wrong track when I programmed the route. Thank God for the plastic signage. Took the right branch and stayed on FR004 and just descended like a maniac, wanting nothing more than to get done and get that pack off of my throbbing back and chest. Saw the van for about 2 miles up and just mashed it. My gosh, how sweet it was to see the ladies there, with the camp chairs out, just sitting in the warm sun cheering me down. Got to the van and I could barely dismount from the bike. I just leaned on the bars for a bit. Then when I did dismount, and sat in one of the camp chairs, hoping to savor another tough ride, I just couldn’t feel comfortable. It’s like my shoulders and chest were tight, rigid and sore. I felt nauseous and every so slightly dizzy. 

And I was thinking to myself, “you know under any other circumstance I’d have sat in that camp chair, drank an ice cold coke, sucked down a Powerade, and eaten something, enjoying the sun and savoring the day’s ride. But right now I feel horrible, I have no appetite and I just want to curl up in a ball and sleep!” So we got going back to our motel in Eureka, with me pretty silent in the back seat just wondering what the hell’s going on. Once back in Eureka, I jumped in the hot bathtub, figuring that the hot water would loosen up my shoulders and chest muscles. Well, it felt good for a few minutes, but then I began to notice that my pulse was somewhat irregular, kind of like beat, beat, beat, followed by a profusion of beats, then back to normal beating, then a profusion of beats. Was I severely dehydrated? 

Ok, time to play the trump card…call my sister the doc. Drained to tub, dressed and then walked outside in the parking lot so I could talk to Kim without Vic or Judy hearing the conversation. I just did not want to alarm them with what could just be assumptions. Well, Kim put me through all the typical questions, and agreed that I did indeed have some kind if A-fib going on. Could be dehydration, could be TOO much water and not enough electrolytes, could be cardiac issues, but she wanted me to see a doc in town asap, and sent me a list of everything she wanted him to check me for. 

Now remember, this is a town of 600 people, so there’s no real emergency or anything here, just a little med center with a doc and an attending nurse. So I filled the ladies in on the situation, and Vic got directions to the center from the motel desk lady. By this time I could just feel my heart beating irregularly in my chest, and my shoulders and back felt tight as banjo strings. Just couldn’t get comfortable, and tell you what, I felt the same as I had after that hypothermic ride the prior Saturday. We hustled in the van and went to two wrong spots, as we’d been directed. Hell, the people here don’t even know where the med center is? Finally got to the right building on the east side of town….and the office had just closed 10 minutes earlier!

Ok, called sis, told her of the situation and she told me we should drive to Elko or back to Ely where there are Emergency centers open, and get checked out that night. But me being the hardhead that I am, figured that if I was indeed really dehydrated again, that I’d rehydrate that night as I did the prior Saturday, and I’d be ok come morning. Kim wasn’t happy with my decision, nor were the ladies, but I did promise that I’d go straight to the med center in Eureka the next morning before I did anything, this just to see what the local doc thinks. Went back to soak in the tub while Judy and Kim had several phone conversations concerning me. Felt pretty descent soaking in the tub, save for the A-fib thing going on with my heart.

Wasn’t hungry at all, and I forced myself to guzzle down Powerades and some canned Progresso Chicken Soup. But other than that I just had zero appetite. Then came the sleep part, God, I just could not get comfortable. My heart is beating funkily and my shoulders and chest are so tight I just want someone to dig their fingers into my muscles to relieve this massive cramp. When lights went out, I was wide awake, uncomfortable as heck, and feeling really listless. I was in every imaginable sleep position, with no respite from the HR and muscle issues. Hell, I even went to the floor and propped myself up against the foot of the bed in a sitting position to try to get sleep, to no avail. This WAS definitely as step worse than that Saturday ride.