Short Ride, Long Stay

October 6, 2011

Words by // Photography by Nita Breibish

Tahoe had turned out to be a great experience. We practically had the Ritz to ourselves. Michael and Nuri had left the previous day and everything felt too quiet. Still, Nita had time to grab a massage and I could start trying to catch up with all the writing that needed to be done for the site. As much as I’d like to say that I get everything written the day it happens, that’s rarely the truth. In reality, mental notes and pictures are what helps me weave any commentary together. I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve missed :)

It was time to say goodbye to our little paradise. My rear tire was now completely shot and I felt lucky that it had lasted that long. I’d heard about a shop in Carson City called Adventure Motostuff and had called ahead to make sure they had my tire in stock. So, Carson City would be the first stop of the day.

It was completely unplanned but the routing over the past few days had worked out perfectly. I’d wanted to ride HWY 50 east towards Denver where we’d be meeting up with Woody’s Wheel Works for a set of spoked rims for Nitas F650GS Twin. We’d done a bit of the 50 from the Mississippi west during last years Transamerica, but had to dart north earlier than expected and never made it to Denver.

The east side of Tahoe meets up with HWY 50 and the highway ran smack-dab into the middle of Carson City. It all made sense. The only thing that didn’t make sense was the growing rumor of ten to twenty inches of snow on the mountain and seven at the Lake. A quick check of the weather and the storm warnings confirmed the rumors. We needed to jet out of Tahoe before we’d be stranded.

Carson City was a short hop from the hotel, perhaps an hour or so. We’d not filled up and we were low on fuel but thought we’d make it. And we nearly did! Just as we turned onto the street the shop was on I lost power and coasted into the parking lot just behind their loading bay. Again! Every trip in the states has me running out of gas at least once. This time though I was carrying fuel so there wasn’t any pushing the bikes down a busy freeway for a couple of miles in 40C (104F) heat.

As a side note, I’d estimated range on the bike at 365km per tank and I ran out of fuel at 362.9km. How’s that for math? Of course, filling the tank before it ran out of gas would probably be more useful than good maths.

Pulling into Adventure Motostuff we were greeted by some great folks. I’d talked to Chad on the phone and they’d fit me in with no hassles. Soon enough I’d pulled the GS onto the lift and he was pulling the tire off. Out front Nita was trying on a Shoei Hornet DS helmet – a sweet dualsport helmet that would help with some of the glare issues she was dealing with. After trying it on we were packing the Schuberth up and sending it home. Scott, the first person we’d talked to in the store was feeling comfortable enough to give us some advice on marriage. Our personal favorite was the “Patience Coupon Book.”

The jist is: When you start a relationship you have a book *full* of patience coupons and when something tests your patience, you use a coupon. Laughing, Nita asked how you refilled the coupon book. “You can’t! When that book is empty that’s it – you’re fucked!” It was completely not where I thought he was going with that story, but he almost made me cry with his delivery! About that time Chad emerged from the back to let me know the bike was ready. We had a great time at the shop and if you’re ever in the area and need parts or service I can’t recommend them enough!

Gassed up (yes, I can learn) we headed east on HWY 50. The plan was to only ride a little way since the way we’d break up the route to Bonneville, Salt Lake City, Moab and Denver would yield a series of six hour days rather than super long ones. Stopping in Fallon for a night meant no eight hour days in our foreseeable future.

The Nevada portion of HWY 50 crosses the center of state and was named The Loneliest Road in America by Life magazine in July 1986. The name was intended as a pejorative, but Nevada officials seized on it as a marketing slogan. The name originates from large desolate areas traversed by the route, with few or no signs of civilization. The highway crosses several large desert valleys separated by numerous mountain ranges towering over the valley floors, in what is known as the Basin and Range province of the Great Basin.

The route was constructed over a historic corridor, first used for the Pony Express and Central Overland Route and later for the Lincoln Highway.

With huge uninhabitied areas comes a greater amount of planning. Much like the Mojave and Death Valley, we needed to plan the route in the most efficient way – taking into account access to fuel, water and the like. And the storm that had covered northern California with a foot of snow was on our heels.

Once in Fallon we walked into town to grab a bite at La Fiesta. The food was fantastic but also started to expand in our stomachs exponentially. By the time we’d pushed our stomachs back to the hotel we were both writhing in pain. Hooboy. We walked in circles, we pumped our legs, we tried everything to help move the food but in the end the only cure was time. Even though we didn’t eat that much (honestly!), I couldn’t help but hear Louis CK’s voice saying “I don’t stop eating when I’m full. I stop eating when I hate myself!”

Nita had passed out on the bed when I noticed the flashing red storm-warnings on the weather network. Large amounts of snow were expected in Ely and the passes we’d be taking were going to be hit hard. Five of the seven passes (sometimes nine, depending on which local you talk to) are over 7000ft. Our plan to ride the 50 the next day was done. We’d have to stay at the hotel in Fallon until the storm passed.

We ended up staying two days in Fallon. We walked briefly around the first day, but the cold weather and driving rain kept us in mostly. We continued to catch up on writing and I fixed some the site issues that had bothered me for months. The next day the sky opened up and patches of blue shone through. Walking the length of the town we noticed a motorcycle shop and decided to take a peek. From the outside Tu Bruthers (or Brothers depending on what sign or sticker you were looking at) looked closed. But the door was slightly open so we strolled in and a giant of a man emerged from the back. For a moment I had the thought that we should leave but then noticed the tiniest of black poodles in his arms. This dude was going to be great – you just get a feeling about people the more you travel, and Nita and I both knew he was going to be a great guy.

We chatted a little about the town and he gave us some advice about travelling east on the 50. “You have to be a bit boy scout about that road. Take plenty of water. There’s no cell-service.” He was my kind of guy – straight to the point without seeming rude and you could tell he had a lot going on in the noggin. He was smart and understated. So cool. I picked up some supplies and his brother emerged from the back to ring our stuff in. His brother was just as cool – though a little quieter at first.

Now in the back of the shop, they introduced themselves – Mike and Ski. Ski, the taller of the two, told us about hauling supplies for the military (read: ammo and explosives) and showed us pics of their 136ft rig pulling a booster rocket stage for NASA. Ski showed us pics of him riding his dads ’75 Harley just before he joined the Navy and there was a real pride in the way they both told their stories.

When the brothers started talking about their run to Prince Rupert they were both so animated as they recalled their time there. Both had huge smiles on their faces and you could feel the joy of that trip just listening to them. The told us about a float plane trip and a pilot who had a reputation for talking to no-one. Turned out the brothers could get him talking and he demonstrated some of the more “advanced” flying techniques reserved for a rare friend. Like wing-tip fishing. Simply, skimming the water with the tip of the wing, landing the plane and scooping up the fish.

There were pics of Mike racing his dragbike which we were lucky enough to see in person. The bike looked like an absolute monster. Outside of the frame, the brothers had fabricated almost everything else. Ski took off the fairing and showed us the engine. It was art.

Honestly, we could have spent more time with Ski and Mike and we thank them for all the time they gave us. People like them make trips like this amazing.

After Tu Bruthers we headed to a diner called Jerrys for dinner. It had some great ’50s retro signage and the music and menu certainly took you to a different time. The food was decent and we left with happy bellies. It was still cold out but tomorrow was the day to start east to Ely (pronounced E-lee). The clouds still looked thick over the mountains in the dying light but we were getting anxious to move on.

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I’m a Canadian writer, adventure motorcyclist and world traveller of British and Libyan descent. I’ve spent the past two and a half years travelling the globe by motorcycle as one-half of We Love Motogeo, following a route that makes little sense to anyone else, while supporting our non-profit organization, the Lost for Good Project. I’ve been chased by all manner of animal, detained as a spy in North Africa and waited out a hurricane in the bowels of a ferry. While I’m no spy (honestly), I am a lover of decent coffee and great yarns sewn around a campfire.

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