What a great ride! The day was perfect, the route was great, and the company doesn't get any better for sure. Several Nubblets, and wanna be Nubblets, met up in the Brooklyn Bagel parking lot at 7am sharp and departed on what would turn out to be a enlightening journey through scenic Southern Nevada and Southern California. Scott Dakus led us out two-by-two through Green Valley, up Horizon Ridge to Henderson and on over railroad pass to the long lonely road to Searchlight. A few folks ventured out earlier and braved the cold while meeting the group near Searchlight or on the road to Nipton. As always, Stan "Cowboy" Masters immediately went to the front and set the initial pace for the group. Albeit, things were rather mellow in the beginning, but the pace and heartbeats gradually picked up all the way back to Henderson. It was nice to see Barry and Karen Lasko come out for the ride. Although Barry didn't stay with us long, Karen showed us her Ironman stamina by staying with us the whole way and even whoppin our butts up some really long climbs.
For those unfamiliar with the road to Searchlight and Nipton, Hwy 93 descends for a long way into a rather far-off dry lake bed northwest of Boulder City. The amazing thing about this descent is the change in temperature. The temperature started out at 57 °F at railroad pass and dropped to 44 °F by the time we got to the edge of the dry lake bed. About the time we hit the middle of the dry lake bed, the evil flat menace struck one of us. Scott sent the main group on ahead while he and a few others assisted in the repair. So, we proceeded on at a pretty good clip while at the same time picking up a light tailwind. Once again, Cowboy jumped on the front and jacked up the pace to keep us honest. The road from the dry lake bed all the way into Searchlight is a deceiving and constant climb until about 2 miles outside of the city. I guess if you don't like desert landscape, you would probably call these junk miles because there really isn't much to look at with the exception of a few Joshua trees, the occasional road kill, or someone else's backside. For me however, the experience is a little surreal. The experience is like one of those old Twilight Show episodes. The road seems to go on forever and ever to an endless horizon, and all you can hear is droning sound of your panting along with the wind whistling through your helmet.
This might be a good place to address hydration and nutrition for these long rides. If you haven’t read Scott's article on the subject. You can find his article on the GVC main website under the NUBS link. Personally, I think hydration kinda speaks for itself and most people are pretty smart about drinking when they need to. Nutrition on the other hand is a little different for most people. If you haven't been on a ride with Cowboy at the helm, eating while on the bike is pretty tough. First off, there are very few if any stops. Secondly, the pace is rather high and it is tough enough to breath, much less eat. So, here is what I've learned when riding in a faster group on a long ride. Eat and drink when the opportunity presents itself, even if you don't want to. That is, when you come off the front of the paceline and go to the back. Drink, eat and stretch, in that order. Take advantage of the draft and do all the things you could not otherwise do while in the middle of the pack, or up front. The other thing I look for is a break in the pace. Not everyone can go fast all the way, all of the time. These gaps are strategic moments to suck down some water and nutrition. Here are some fun facts from my experience and from the folks at Hammer Nutrition. I tend to burn about 35 to 38 calories per mile, or about 560 to 580 calories per hour, depending on the Cowboy DEFCON level. Generally speaking, your body can only metabolize about 240-250 calories per hour. So, based on that you can see you are at a disadvantage from the get go. I guess the point is you have to learn to eat, or drink on the bike and figure out what works best for you. Now back to the ride.
Once we crested over the last climb before entering Searchlight that magic nutrition moment hit me and I wolfed down a whole banana. I kinda got on the backside of the nutrition power curve at this point and man did that thing taste good! Munching away much like a dog with a new found treat, I couldn't help but notice what greets you when pedaling through Northern Searchlight suburbia. Trailers! Tons of them! I'll tell ya, if tornados ever come to Nevada, they will naturally be drawn to Searchlight for sure. Anyway, the road to Nipton actually intersects Hwy 93 just prior to the Searchlight main drag so we missed the bustling downtown metropolis altogether. The road to Nipton is surprisingly just like the road to Searchlight! What a shock! All you see is a straight line cutting through the endless population of Joshua trees and a very long climb at what appears to be the horizon. Surprisingly, the pace was rather nice for about the first ten miles or so. We exchanged minor pulls, mostly two by two until the start of the climb. I looked back a few times to see if Scott and the gang had made any ground on us, but the glance back looked just like the picture up ahead. More road with nothing on it.
About halfway through our last climb before the downhill into Nipton, Dave and Cowboy decided to play a game of cat and mouse. The rest of us were content with our pace and the realization that we still had about 85 more miles to ride. Just a few moments later, I felt this rush of air and saw this blur of color blow past me just prior to reaching the summit. It was Scott showing us how the big boys climb mountains. He had been hammering the pace by himself all the way from Searchlight, about 20 miles, to catch up to us for the final descent into Nipton. The downhill into Nipton was a great reward for all our hard work so far. The road is fairly nice and you can see what seems like all of the desert of Southern California on your way down. The little oasis of Nipton sits about three quarters of the way down to the bottom of the valley. Entering Nipton is kinda like going back to the old West in a way. The buildings sure do look like they are from that era. They come complete with hitchin' posts to tie up your tired and thirsty steed. In our case however, the tired thirty steeds happened to be us humans! And to my surprise, what else does Nipton have? Trailers, lots of them! And most are mounted with Satellite dishes. Our stop there was a great respite and the convenience store seemed to have everything for being out in the middle of literally no where. You can even by a lotto ticket for a chance to win the 256 million!
After waiting for quite awhile for the rest of the group, four of us split off to tackle the final leg of our journey. Scott gave us some directions and advice for crossing the very large dry lake bed, but we decided to take the long climb up to I-15 instead. The rest of the road was about as one might expect for California in the middle of the desert. Dog crap! Full of potholes, cracks and rocks! I thanked Arnold many times along this section. Making our way around the man-made obstacle course we started up the long climb to I-15. Now, I must say this is a nasty little, or rather big, climb. I figured the best way tackle this bad boy was to get in a groove and just spin as best I could. The entrance to I-15 isn't as bad as you might think. The shoulder is fairly wide and the road isn't all that bad on the downhill. Don't be fooled, however. About the time you hit the Yates Well Road off ramp is where things get really bad. The road is buckled every 25 feet or so, and buckled bad. I felt like I was riding a bucking bull for at least ten miles. I was more worried about getting tossed off my bike than getting run over by some idiot on his way to Vegas. I-15 transitions from a pretty rough road to real pleasant smooth pavement at about the state line, big surprise there! Anyway, the four of us, me, Stan, Mike, and Dave traded pulls like a well trained pro time-trial team all the way to Jean. I-15 isn't bad from Stateline to Jean, but if someone pulls over, you have to jump the rumble strips and get around them in the right hand lane of the highway, not good at all. This happened to us twice. The ride back from Jean felt like a short hop compared to what we had done previously and a nice end to a long day in the saddle. Big thanks to NUBS and Scott for putting this on!