Cell coverage in the Sierras is spotty and Ralph was feeling the need to connect with work--being the CEO on vacation does not absolve one of staying on top of disasters that may occur. He elected to answer e-mails after breakfast and so I got the boys up early to drive to Lake Tahoe and have breakfast there. It was as lovely as I remembered it from 20 years ago. Then, my wife and I had woken to a strange sound that turned out to be a hot air balloon on the Lake that was filling and we watched it drift off at dawn. This trip we did not have time to play the slots in S Lake Tahoe because we had a 140 mile ride to Austin I was desirous of beginning before the mercury got over 100 degrees. We returned to the hotel parking lot to apply sunscreen. Daniel would accompany us on the six-13 today. He wore the Buckler shirt that became his trademark.
Fallon was approx 60 miles away but when we turned onto US 50 about a mile S of the hotel we picked up a fierce tail wind. All my planning came to fruition, a 40 mile per hour tailwind and we put the chain on the big ring in front and the little ring in back and flew low to Fallon for lunch. Traffic between Fallon and Carson City is constant but not heavy. It was possible to ride on the road and cars had plenty of time to go around. There is a good shoulder but it has those annoying rumble strips that require very close attention to avoid and when you are riding 35 MPH it is better to just get in with the flow of traffic. We had heard about Pony Express stations along this route but saw no obvious markings and we were having too good a time flying along with a tailwind to stop. I am pretty sure a bike could beat a horse from St. Joseph, MO to Sacramento but you would need a little pavement..... Fallon was a strip mall kind of trashy looking place with a lot of good- hearted people we were unable to meet because we wanted to enjoy the air conditioning on the floor of this table-less restaurant we were stupid enough to order in. After consuming 2000 plus calories in my poor boy, I was not anxious to jump on the bike through the bombing range and MiddleGate desert, so we loaded up the car and transported the bikes to the top of Carroll Summit on Nevada 722(skipping some 60 miles of less attractive salt flats). This is the alternate route instead of following US-50 and I highly recommend it for the scenery. It is only 44 miles from the summit to Austin BUT from Fallon its over a hundred miles with only a rinky dink stop in a blistering concrete block convenience store in MiddleGate. Don’t leave Fallon or Austin unprepared to ride a long way without seeing anyone. We did not see one car from the top of Carroll Summit to the intersection of US-50 before the climb to Austin.
Daniel has improved markedly. Three days ago he couldn’t clip in and now he’s pacelining at 35MPH. (Ralph and I would keep urging him to close the gap which he usually did with a vengeance if the road turned uphill!) That really was my original plan. I thought the boys could take turns being rabbits, riding at 20mph for 30-40 miles while Ralph and just kind of sat in and took in the scenery. After one got tired the other could take over. We were leery of following them too closely though. Although in much better general shape than us (and younger) they were a little unpredictable. Ralph and I have been riding together for years and know each others foibles--I can tell when he’s going to quit pedaling and when he’s going to accelerate but I didn’t want to chance it with a newbie.
We ate dinner at the International Cafe. It was misnamed. There was only a bitter waitress whose husband had been laid off by a mining company and whose trailer park neighbors were dwindling with the lack of work. Austin was a bustling town of 10,000 some 50 years ago but it has slipped to 600. Off the main drag the desolate houses are eerie, like my long ago hitchhiking experience at midnight in the South Bronx. Empty buildings everywhere and no people. Some fine looking churches were all boarded up but looked ready to open up and have services The Pony Canyon Motel, worrisomely, did not have A/C but after dark, since it is at 6,000 feet, cools off rapidly with fans. The hotel must buy re-cycled TVs. I have never seen one so old in working condition. I should have looked for the Zenith I had stolen from me in dental school. Two other “groups” were overnighting in Austin, a Jamaican family moving West with small U-Haul and a biker couple with tattoos from a time before they were trendy. I so want to get to the bottom of this tattoo thing...rebellion is fine, dye your hair purple or blue, sag or wear pants with some cleavage like a plumber, but why o why put Roman numerals on your neck? Piercing. I used to read National Geographic as a kid for the naked ladies and the unbelievable pictures of people who wanted to look like platypuses or have necks like giraffes but they were in foreign places with mud huts and now they seemed to have transmitted a virus that our children have caught... 39% of millenials have tattoos compared to only 15% of boomers. I DO know a boomer with a tattoo but he got it for unexplained reasons eons ago and I’ve never heard anyone say they want one. People do not “show off” their personal works of art by talking about them. I want a sign on a minivan that says "Let me tell you about my tattoos". I guess they go to the bathroom and admire them in the mirror.....
Strive, thrive, alive. There’s a lot of “I” in these words. Desire. I want to ride my bicycle across the country. It begins with a want, a feeling that this I must do. If conditions are good and a man is satisfied, how can he achieve anything? Doesn’t contentment breed complacency? Why go further if you are already happy? It may be a psychological thing-consider-if one stagnates, but is happy, one goes along and all is well until suddenly it isn’t. You should have prepared by aiming to go somewhere else. You shouldn't have relied on taking things as they come. Now you are in a place that is hard to get out of. So, a lack of ambition may be a reflection that a man is happy. In short a virtue. But if the reason is just laziness perhaps the lack of ambition is a vice. What is a man that does not live up to his potential? A tragedy, an unfortunate occurrence, a commonplace, no particular problem? If he lacks something perhaps it is only then that he can fully want. It is the lack that generates the corresponding motivation. If one is satisfied with ones place or status is that the end of story? A man may feel inferior and need to compensate. Achievements make him feel better. Striving is merely a sign that he is unhappy. It is not a good, it is a necessity given who he is.
Secular humanism is a faith for the timid, the careful, and the skeptical. It's a nuanced balance that says-Yes, I'm willing to listen to you. I want to hear your story. I have a story too so don't go all judgemental on me. It has not yet but COULD lead human beings to some “better” arrangement of their affairs. I have faith in an improveability model rather than a certainty model. We can get better and we can get worse. We’re not there yet. The human future is still open. With the Christian God , everything of importance has already happened, The future is defined. It is not known when, but God is shutting this play down, everybody gets their just rewards, and we start another reality in Heaven. This show’s over. Our life between the first and second coming. Let us then reject absolutist faiths of all kinds and consider relativism.
In these times there seems to be a return to Faith, perhaps it’s easier than an existentialism. My own instincts run against the tide pulling man back to God. I am a natural contrarian and do not feel right rejecting the painful modernity of the 20th century. It was our responsibility and look what a mess it was, we should not fight those battles again. Then too, let us not return to the Crusades and try the Middle Ages again. Let’s go without a Saviour for a while…..Perhaps we could be really really humble……
Trucks do use US 50 and there is no big sign that says no air brakes allowed. The traffic density is just enough to wake you on the hour as they go downhill through the town.