Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day Twenty-Two, 090322 - Las Vegas, NV

Day Twenty-two, Date Sunday, March 22, 2009, Time
Time in Saddle: ~6.5 hrs
Distance for the Day: 59.9 miles: From Southern Pahrump To Las Vegas, NV
Accumulated Trip Distance: 925.11
Altitudes: Starting 3336’, Highest: 5510’, Accumulated: ~2147’
Speeds: Avg: 9.7 mph, Max: 65.9 mph (false)
Weather: Cool in the flats, extremely cold/windy in mtn, to temperate in L.V.
Expenditures: $6

Got up at 6am, ready to go by 7:30am; continued along Hwy 160, and the once distant mountains slowly loomed closer, and the grade became steeper, until it became a medium-strength grade that I couldn’t see the end of, but could tell it went up into the mountains, and into the clouds. As we climbed, we were hit with light rain showers, and then light hail showers, as the temperature dropped into the freezing range. The winds were getting quite strong, too (15 mph, gusting to 25), but fortunately, they were tailwinds, for the most part. Great! We were heading up into a mountain storm, complete with hail and high winds. My toes, being somewhat elevated as I pedaled my recumbent trike, weren’t getting enough circulation, and they became numb. I kept seeing that scene from the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, where they’re heading into the freezing cold northern waters, and one of the minor crew members snapped his toe off. I furiously wriggled my toes to get some circulation in them, not wanting them to snap off. Amazingly, as slow as we were going (under 10 mph), we still made the summit at almost exactly noon, and turned in to the Mountain Springs Bar and Restaurant located there. That’s when my rear tire went completely flat! It was still freezing cold, with gusting wind, which probably brought the wind chill down to well below freezing, when we entered the bar. It was one of those bars that has its own unique personality, with signed dollar bills covering every available surface, and we very gratefully gathered, shivering with the cold, around the cheerful fire in the open fireplace at one end of the bar. While Cati and Eusebio chatted with the handful of people there, I went back out into the cold, wind, and rain to begin the repair of my tire. I could only go for a few minutes, before having to go back inside to stick my hands into the fire, so I could get some feeling back into my frozen digits. I unloaded all my panniers off the rack, got the rear tire off the frame, got the inner-tube out of the tire, found the puncture, patched it, searched the tire for the offending instrument of puncturation, and found a tiny sliver of stainless steel no bigger than the edge of your pinkie fingernail, and sharp as a brain surgeon’s tool. I pulled it out, put the inner-tube and tire back on the rim, but couldn’t figure out how to get the tire to fit back in with the derailleur. I’ve done this operation on a regular bicycle a gazillion times, and this was no different, so it must have been the cold that was addling my brain. Meanwhile, the super-friendly owner/operator of the bar, Manny Marquina, came over and started helping me. He even fed us freshly made waffles, eggs, and ham! I went back in to unfreeze my fingers, and by the time I came back out, Manny got the tire mounted! I’ve got to say, if Manny’s establishment had not been there, what with the flat tire at the crest of Mountain Springs, I would have been telling a far more harrowing tale than this, believe you me. Thank you Manuel Marquina! You are a prince among men!

About an 1.5 hours later, we were ready to hit the road again. It was still cold and windy, but the rain stopped, and we made good time going down, down, down to lower, and somewhat warmer (more like, “less freezing”) climes. I usually just let ‘er rip, and coast downhill at speeds of 35 – 40 mph on these grades, but this time, I braked a lot, and stayed with Eusebio and Cati – I couldn’t take the windchill while coasting, not generating any heat from a hill-climbing workout. Round about 2:30pm, we came down into the flatlands, again, and pulled into the first quickie mart we found to buy some hot drinks ($2.75). Well, Cati and I did, anyways. Eusebio likes the cold, and didn’t mind it so much. Those two are funny that way – Eusebio likes the cold, but doesn’t like getting hot, and Cati is just the opposite. I called my family in Las Vegas (Janet and John), and they said come on in – they were just heading out, but would be back about 6pm. I rode with C&E (Cati and Eusebio) to find the address of a friend’s friend who agreed to let them camp out in his carport. We had trouble locating the address, so I bought a map ($5), and we finally found it. It was in a somewhat spotty neighborhood, and the carport wasn’t very large or secure, so I invited C&E to Janet and John’s, where I was pretty sure it would be okay for them to camp out in their backyard, too. (We’re used to causing very minimal imposition – asking only to park and lay out a sleeping bag, oftentime being gone before the sun rises). I called John again to verify if it would be okay, and John said he’d check with Kei (Janet), and get back to me. Well, by the time we arrived, John had called in a favor, and got us a room at The Boulder Station Casino and Hotel for up to three nights for free! At that moment, the sound of three jaws hitting the floor could be felt more than heard. C&E couldn’t believe it, and were overjoyed by the fact that they would have soft beds, free wi-fi, and hot showers, instead of sleeping in an open carport made from a giant Jay Leno fabric poster that faced the street a dozen yards away. We offloaded our panniers in the back yard, and followed Janet and John to the hotel as they guided us to it at bicycle speed less than two miles away in their car. John showed us where we could lock our cycles up, and all the security arrangements in the area to assure us that they were safe. He then took us up to our room, and after our many very grateful thanks, he and Janet left for home. That was the great and fantastic news. The really bad news was: it got very windy around town that day, and with the dust and tree pollen blowing around while we were looking for that carport, the stage was set for my sinuses to swell into the most painful condition I get these days – a sinus headache.

This, I thought, was a very bad situation. I sneeze, blow my nose, cough, moan and groan, pace around in the middle of the night, etc. whenever I get a sinus headache, and here I was, in a room with two other people, who would get no sleep if I stayed with them. As it turned out, I forced myself to make no noise. I didn’t blow my nose. I refused to sniffle loudly, and did whatever it took to not sneeze. Interestingly, this effort cut down the amount of time it normally takes for me to recover from this condition by two-thirds, and I was able to get to sleep. By the time I woke up the next day, after about 5.25 hours of sleep, the pain was greatly reduced, and about an hour later, it was gone, and my sinuses, while still somewhat tickly, were almost back to normal. Hmm, interesting. I’ve also noticed this about a throat tickle situation that happens to me occasionally. I sometimes get a tickle in my throat, which makes me want to cough. If I cough, the tickle gets worse, and I cough more and more. This can come out of nowhere, for no apparent reason. I found that if I refuse to cough, which takes an almost Herculean effort, the urge to cough also disappears. I’ll have to try this on my sinus headaches again. It must be the act of sniffling, sneezing, and blowing, that causes the sinuses to swell, which results in the pain. Don’t do these things, and the swelling either doesn’t occur, or goes down quicker. It’s hard to do, but any discomfort is better than having a sinus headache.

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