Day 8: Austin to Eureka, NV

We awoke to clear skies, bright sun and crisp 50’s.  Perfect riding conditions.  We had good intentions of starting early.  To fuel up, we started the day with breakfast at the Toiyabe Cafe.   For people in the know it is the only place to eat!   For dinner you just have to get there before 4:00 p.m.  

We saw a bunch of guys walking up to the cafe at 6:15 am, but thought we’d let them order and then we’d follow them in 30 minutes or so, but the Toiyabe Cafe had other plans.  

When we arrived some of the guys  in the restaurant had not had their order taken  and some were still getting their meals.  The waitress was completely overwhelmed  and freaking out.   We ordered and ate our French toast before the other party was all served.  The breakfast was excellent.  The two Swiss couples who ate next to us the night before at the esteemed International Cafe and joined us in much laughter also sat near us in the cafe this morning  and we had many more good laughs.  We finished breakfast in 1 hour and 45 minutes.  The original plan was to have them make us a couple of sandwiches, but 2 more people walked in and it seemed like that could be the last straw, so we decided we had enough food in our panniers to get us to Eureka.  

Snow in the forecast for this afternoon and tomorrow, but we beat the snow and rain to Eureka.  

More basin and range territory. The basins are wider the further east you go.  Also the sage brush get smaller in every subsequent valley.  You notice these things as you chug along. 

When we approached Eureka we violated the sacred rule of not food shopping while hungry.  We were able to check ourselves, but consumed a few wings back in the hotel room and scored some fried chicken for lunch tomorrow.  

I asked the local sheriff what are the best places to eat in town.  We are going to the Owl Club tonight and the Pony Express Deli for breakfast.   I asked the sheriff about the rain and snow forecast and he thinks it will be over by 6:00 am tomorrow and it will be 42 by 9:00 am  so we should be okay, but it will be raining.  

I spoke more with the sheriff about where we’d been and eventually the conversation turned to hamburgers and he said, well the bar has excellent cheeseburgers and I said, we are trying to take a break from the cheeseburger pony express diet.  I told him about Middlegate and the 4 lb burger and he told me how he and a buddy each ate a 7.5 lb cheeseburger a few weeks ago.  I congratulated him on his survival.  Not sure about his buddy.  I don’t want to know what the record is.  

Went for jacuzzi at our hotel, The Eureka Gold Country Inn.  Very nice and just what we needed before dinner.  The Owl Club restaurant was delicious.  

There are many versions of Austin’s history.

We left this guy waiting for his meal.  

Leaving Austin (the most down on its luck town on the lonliest road in America) via a 1500 ft climb. 

I see a rebirth in the making for Austin (Geothermal Energy). 

Did I mention basin and range?

Yet another basin….

Eureka’s gold mine has revitalized the town.  They use a method called heap leaching to separate the gold from the ore.  The low grade ore is crushed into fine particles. It is then heaped into large piles and sprayed with cyanide, which trickles down through the ore and bonds with the gold.  They then collect the leachate and separate out the gold.  

Downtown Eureka

The Owl Club where we had dinner.  No hamburgers for us.  

Day 7: Cold Spring Station to Austin, NV

More of the same terrain today.  Basin and Range.  Basin and range.  Wide open country with sage brush and a few cattle sprinkled around.  Lots of jack rabbits — many the victims of cars and trucks.  They are quite large and we would not want to hit one going downhill.  Mark is concerned about the jackalope version as they have antlers.  

We had a relatively short day (50 miles) because of the climbs and the next place for water is an additional 68 miles.  Austin is a very sleepy down.  Hard to believe that over 10,000 people lived here in 1862 when silver was discovered by a pony express rider.   

We walked around Austin and 90% of the town is out of business.  The place everyone raves about is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but they close at 4:00 p.m.  We’ll hit that for breakfast tomorrow and have them make us a sandwich for tomorrow as we have  several long extended climbs and about 70 miles without any water or services in the high desert. 

There was a very nice rock store selling semi-precious gems from some of the local mines.  I really liked the turquoise and variscite specimens, but too heavy to carry. (Anything is too heavy)

We had dinner at the International Cafe across from our accomodations called the Lincoln Motel.  We selected the items that we felt were least likely to have lingering health impacts. We had salads and pizza.

Snow is in the forecast for late Sunday and Monday…..

A few pictures of the basin and range landscape:

A few flowers along the way

Not the Mt. Airy where I grew up…

The next range is our destination – Austin.  Follow the road about 20 miles, down the range 1200 feet , across the basin and halfway up the next range about 1500 feet. 

Watch out for the dust devils moving across the valley floor.

Always look at the flowers — Prickly Poppies on the side of the road.

The Lincoln Motel

The International Cafe

Views of Main St., Austin

Day 6: Fallon to Cold Springs Station, NV

From now on I will be dictating the blog as I’m running out of time to write it all down before I go to bed. I will edit it later. Hope the typos are not too bad. I thought it would be better to get something out while I can remember everything. 

Basin, fault, range,basin, fault, range. If you ever read John McPhee’s book basin and range we are traveling it on route 50. This is our mantra as we roller coaster along the Nevada landscape — embraced by silence and majestic views broken only by the occasional raptor, navy jet fighters and the sound of our tires purring across the newly tarred gravel road (which is not a smooth ride and slows us down by 3 MPH) on the loneliest road in America. 

Lunch stop at Middlegate Station

Who eats a 64 oz cheeseburger?  That’s a 4 lb hamburger.  Go Navy!

Mark and I left our mark…

    Nevada Shoe Tree

    Day 5: Woodfords, CA to Fallon, NV; Welcome to Nevada

    We started the morning by borrowing Ron’s red pick-up to get to Tony’s Alpine Cafe.  He opened up early to give his special eggs.  He then kindly gave us t-shirts.  They catch all kinds of huge trout around there and Tony has lots of secrets spots.  

    There were wind advisories posted for the day with 30 + MPH winds at our backs.

    Right before we left, Ron’s cute 2 year old grandson was running around with his Thomas the train t-shirt and he had zipper brace on his hand. A few months back Ron’s grandson was sitting in a chair and the chair was picked up by strong winds and the boy and chair were blown into the fire pit.  His grandson was in Shriner’s hospital for a week and almost lost his hand.  Ron took off his brace and showed me his hand and it was perfect.  Very fortunate.  

    That story made us pay attention to the wind and the extreme gusts in the area and to take it easy on the descent. 

    Great to have a tailwind, but on sinuous mountain roads the wind direction is constantly changing.  In addition, cool winds cascade down the valley walls, especially along ravines and stream beds – creating side currents that want to blow you off the road more than a tractor trailer.   Needless to say we had the governors on for the first 25 miles and only averaged about 15 MPH – thank goodness for disc breaks.  

    When we reached Genoa the road flattened out and we started averaging 22, 25 and even 30 MPH for long stretches thanks to the wind.  We had to check our speed though as not to get blown over.   We had lunch at the Olive Garden and it was really tasty and safer than Volcano tacos!  We covered the 59 miles from Carson City to Fallon in under 2.5 hours with the wind assist to end the day at Fallon covering 94 miles. 

    On the way to Fallon we saw what we thought was a covered wagon.  One of the strangest sites ever.  See below for pictures.  

    Saving the legs with a ride to breakfast

    Tony gave us T-shirts from the Alpine Cafe. 

    Riding into Nevada.  One state down!

    Our first large highway (375) outside of Carson. Luckily, we were only on it for a mile or so. 

    Cruising on Highway 50.  The loneliest highway in the US. 

    What is this on the highway going about 3 MPH?   A covered wagon?

    Randy Boehmer left Indiana 8 years ago spreading God’s good word with his 2 dogs Shepherd and Proverb and five mules that he has to shoe every two months.  Randy offered us two cold diet cokes.  God is definitely on his side.  While we saw Randy and spoke to him he was almost hit by a truck and tractor trailer a few times.  It is a miracle he is still alive with his slow moving wagon creeping along the highways of the US. 

    We double booked accomodations in Fallon. Mark canceled his Best Western and we stayed at the  EconoLodge.  Mark thought the door to our room had a bullet hole in it. I reassured him it was not as it looked more like a shot gun blast.   The accomodations were just fine.  

    We are drinking plenty of electrolytes, not sure the same applies here.  

    It took us some time to find some good grind and of course a milk shake each…

    Day 4: Cooks Station to Woodfords, CA

    The night before in Volcano we had some questionable tacos at the only place to eat, hey it was taco night.  I left the bar early as I was exhausted and wanted to catch up on the blog.  Mark stayed on for trivia night and learned of everyone’s issues and hardships.  The bar patrons were very good with TV facts, but not so good on history.  Mark’s group came in second with a clutch call by Mark on who the US fought in The War of 1812.  Great Britain. I think they are putting up a statute of Mark next to the Civil War cannon.  

    We arranged for a cab pick us up at 7:00 am in  Volcano.  Mark asked how fast the mini van could go and she took Mark to task.  I said there was no rush.  On the 4500 foot elevation gain on curvy mountain roads back to Cooks Station we both felt quite queazy and nauseous.  Ate a scrumptous breakfast of eggs, etc while our heads were still spinning.  Had a slight delay on our departure as the tacos from the night before kicked in and combined with our car sickness made for a rough morning. 

    Cooks Station is a former Stage Coach and Pony Express Station.  They used to have a pony express station every 5 miles as that is the distance you can drive cattle in a day – back in the day. 

     Today we pedaled over Carson’s Pass – a big climb and very majestic ride as the road was lined with snow and snow covered peaks left and right.  We saw a large menacing snake curled up and ready to strike in the middle of the road, but it was too steep to stop and get a photo.  It may have been a California Night Snake.  We took it easy and stopped for many water breaks when the grade relented.  The clouds kept the temperature down combined with the sweet tailwind and coolness from the snow by the side of the road.  Came over Carson’s pass and screamed downhill for 3000 feet to Woodfords Inn.  Luckily we put on wind breakers for the brisk ride down hill. 

    We tried to keep our speed under 30 or 35 mph as the cross winds were treacherous and with the panniers on the bike, the bike tends to get blown around quite a bit.  

    Didn’t get any pictures of Hope Valley (we were taking in the sights and enjoying the downhill immensely) — which was an incredible site — a lush green meadow strewn with glacial erratics  with a 100 foot wide stream meandering across the valley.   

    Arrived at the Woodfords Inn and we asked Ron, the owner, if there was a place to eat and he made a call and offered us his red pick up to get a burger at Tony’s up the hill. We were glad not to have to bike any further.  We got Ron a burger as well and he is giving us his pickup so we can get breakfast in the morning.  

    It is amazing how friendly everyone is.  People we’ve met along the way want to talk and we feel bad that after an hour we have to say we have to go as we have a long way to go….  

    Onto Fallon tomorrow.  

    Feel’n good on the ride up with Mario.  

       Views on the climb up the pass

    Mark was getting hungry


    I’ve been working on the corn rows.  

    Sketchy 3 mile section of road to Kirkwood

    Carson’s Pass not open for business yet

    Carson’s Pass and the start of 15 miles downhill.  Nice way to end the day after a 35 mile climb.  

    Some views on the way down. 

    Ron, the owner of Woodfords Inn gave us his pickup so we could drive up hill to dinner.  We brought him back a burger with pepper jack cheese.  Note the photo of the Duke in the background.  

    Day 3 Plymouth to Cook Station (Volcano)

    Big climb today — a little over 4,000 ft.  Tough grades, but we were good about resting.  Saw a sign that said road closed on our route,  but continued anyway thinking we could get through.  After about an hour after the sign a woman yelled at us with 5 or 6 pit bulls in her yard, but was very hard to hear her as the dogs were barking and menacing.  She said we had to go back down and around — 4,000 ft down and around and back up a different route.  She said the road has numerous landslides on it and was washed out for miles and for months.   How could we miss the sign?   

    Within a minute, we flagged down a very nice woman who said we had to get away from the dogs.  She knew a short cut and escorted us by driving at 4 MPH as we struggled with loaded bikes on steep grades to a general store where we had lunch and connected to the road we we were trying to intersect.  The woman’s name was Sheryl.  She was our hero.  It would have been a really rough day without her. 

    We got to Cook Station, had a beer and left our bikes there and took a cab to Volcano to spend the night.  I had thought that Volcano was a happening place based on the internet, but this was not the case.  A very sleepy town.  

    The cab dropped us off at our  hotel  and it was closed.  We found a sign saying that they left a message on my phone on how to get into the hotel, but there was no cell reception.  We found the key under the doormat and were able to connect with Wifi to Robin the manager. I texted with Robin and she said she would mail about 10 lbs of my extra stuff home.  The steep grades somehow convince you to shed your extra and nor essential gear. 

    Went to dinner at the Volcano Bar next to the general store.  We were supposed to have dinner at our hotel, but  no food on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  We were fortunate to find food.  The town has an outdoor amphitheater where they put on local plays.  

    Pony Express stop.  

    Our tour guide Sheryl.  

    Cook Station on Highway 88 at 5,000 ft of 8,800 ft of Carson’s Pass. 

    Flowers along the side of our hotel in Volcano

    Day 2; Davis to Plymouth

    Exceptional ride along the 34 mile bike path along the American River by Sacramento.  Lots of history on the gold rush.  Delicious lunch at Jack’s Urban Eatery in Sunshine off of the bike path.  Hooked up with Kyle who has biked all across the US.  He is planning on biking  Bolivia’s Yungas Road, also known as the death road for its extreme exposure. Guided us through Folsom and took us past the Famous Folsom Prison.  My music teacher, Scott Pittman, would be proud.  I would have played a Johnny Cash tune had I packed my guitar.  

    Kyle left us and told us good luck with the 30 miles to Plymouth.  I was a bit surprised. I miscalculated the route and we had to bike an unplanned 12 miles up hill to get us to Plymouth at 6:30 pm for a total of 77 miles 

    We ate at an amazing restaurant called Taste — one of the best restaurants in CA.  We found it tough to get on a bike to go to dinner after biking all day. 

    Coming into West Sacramento.

     Views of the American River.

    Folsom State Prison with Kyle.

    Preparing for the First Day (June 4); San Francisco to Davis

    Before the ride  on Saturday we were busy trying to eliminate unnecessary items and weight.  Basically taking only one or two pieces of each type of clothing, but since we are going over the Sierras and Rockies, we still need to prepared for cold weather.  Carson’s pass into Lake Tahoe has 14 ft of snow that was just cleared last weekend. Without water, my panniers are around 40 lbs.  Yikes, but managed the first 70 miles today without too much trouble. 

    On Saturday, Charlotte and I picked up Mark at the airport, helped to reassemble his bike and then we took our steeds for a test ride to a bike shop for more gear….  We then went for a swim in the cold Pacific at Baker’s Beach — just west of the Golden Gate Bridge.  

    Wyatt came up from Santa Clara and we had a fun day.   In addition, my niece, Katherine Carroll and her friend Tom was also staying with Charlotte, Marc and Miranda.  Had an awesome last meal at their house with everyone. 

    The official start….

    We started from Charlotte’s and Marc’s house at 8:30 am  to catch a 10:00 am Ferry from the Ferry Building to Vallejo.  We met a very nice woman, Eva,  on the ferry who was a physical therapist and gave us some stretches to do.  

    Gorgeous day.  Biked through oleander flowers lining most of the way. All kinds of fruit, beans, peas, wheat, walnut and almond trees along the way.   The air was thick with bees and thousands of bee hives. Missed our lunch spot and water in Vacaville.  About 13 miles passed Vacaville another biker told us about a water spigot in a field as we were quite thirsty.  We refilled our water bottles there and had a struck up a 1 hour conversation with the owner, Greg Ferguson who told us about everything and the area.  

    Biked into Davis and had a slight cramp, but salt pills solved the problem quickly. 

    Davis is the most bike friendly place – rotaries for intersecting bike paths.  

    Had dinner with Mark’s daughter, Amelia.  Was so nice to see her and catch-up. 

    Taking off from Boston. Thanks for the ride, Paul.

    Mark puts his bike back together. 

    Charlotte drove Mark, Wyatt and me to Baker’s Beach for our swim in the Pacific.  It was chilly. 

    The dip.


    Dinner with Katherine, Tom, Marc, Charlotte, Mark and Wyatt. 

    Leaving  Charlotte and Marc’s house on steep Rutledge St. 

    The Ferry ride to Vallejo

    The best water spigot at Greg Ferguson’s ranch. 

    Coming into Davis

    Finished 1st day

    Dinner with Amelia. 

    The Start of the Ride Across the US Approaches…

    This is the post excerpt.

    We are looking forward to the start of our bike trip.  

    As many of you know, Mark Williams and I are planning on biking across the US from San Francisco to Yorktown, Virginia (the ending location may change a bit).  We will bike through CA, NV, UT, CO, KS, MO, IL, KY, and VA.  A few of you have expressed interest in joining us — from a long weekend to a week or biking a state or more.  Please see the map of our route across the US.  We’d love for you to join us on the 3,767.5 mile journey for as little or as much as you like to do.

    We have mapped out our route on small backroads on physical and digital maps.  In general, we will be staying in motels and inns along the way with a few stays in churches, fire houses, youth hostels, etc.  If you can’t join us on the bike adventure, we’d love to stay with you along the route if you are in the area.  We plan to start on June 4 and end around mid July.  We will likely average around 70 miles per day, but in the mountains, especially on the major climbs and in the first couple of weeks, we will likely average less.  Later in the journey, our average mileage will likely increase.  If you do plan on joining us, I don’t think you’ll need to bring much with you in terms of gear, but we can talk about that.

    Mark and I will both be raising funds for charity.  I’ve selected the Alzheimer’s Association and Mark, Bikes Not bombs.  The links are provided below:

    Alzheimer’s Association:

    I’d like to raise a minimum of $10,000 and have a goal of $20,000.

    I chose to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Assocation because of my personal connection to the disease.  My dad, Louis Hill, suffered from this terrible and devastating disesase for over a decade.  One of his accomplishments that he was very proud of was his bike across the country on a three-speed bike in 1948.  It took him 47 days.  My father’s brother, Dick Dilworth, just died from Alzheimer’s disease on May 25th.

    All funds raised benefit  the Alzheimer’s Association and its work to enhance care and support programs and advance research toward methods of treatment, prevention and, ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  Thank you in advance for joining the fight against Alzheimer’s disease!

    Bikes Not Bombs:

    Bikes Not Bombs uses the bicycle as a vehicle for social change.  They reclaim thousands of bicycles each year and create local and global programs that provide skill development, jobs, and sustainable transportation.  Their programs mobilize youth and adults to be leaders in community transformation.

    If you would like to join us on the bike ride, it is not too late — please let us know where and when.  Or if you are on our route let us know and we’ll stop by.  The spreadsheet in this link: is broken down into 10 different tabs based on our paper maps.  The spreadsheets indicate our planned mileage on a given segment, daily mileage, cumulative mileage, local landmarks, towns, restaurants and accommodations, etc.  We have digitally uploaded accommodations and other points of interest along our route.  Not all of this information is in the spreadsheets.  We depart San Francisco on 6/4 and will hopefully arrive in the afternoon at the following locations on these dates:

    Depart San Francisco: 4 June

    Carson Peak, CA: 7 June

    Lake Tahoe, NV: 7 June

    Eureka, NV: June 11

    Cedar City, UT: June 15

    Bryce Canyon: UT: June 16

    Dolores, CO: 21 June

    Telluride, CO:  22 June

    Sargents, CO: 24 June

    Pueblo, CO: 26 June

    Ness City, KS: 29 June

    Everton, MO: 4 July

    Murphysboro, IL: 7 July

    Elizabeth, IL: 8 July

    Sebree, KY:  9 July

    Berea, KY: 12 July

    Breaks, KY: 14 July

    Christiansburg, VA: 16 July

    Lexington, VA:  17 July

    Charlottesville, VA:  18 July

    Yorktown, VA:  20 July  FINISH!

    For those interested, we have the complete route mapped out digitally with accommodations and fine dinning stops on “GPX” files for download.  The attached spreadsheet is our actual itinerary.  A few people have indicated that they will join us for various segments.  We can’t wait to connect with you.

    We have opened a Facebook page where you can follow our journey.  The name of our page is (first name) hill-williams, (last name) bikeus. If you send a friend request to that Facebook account, we will accept it.  You can tell we are very adept at Facebook.

    I’ve set up a blog at or to follow us.  We hope to write periodically and upload photos.  In addition, I think the blog will upload to Facebook automatically.



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