Due to the large number of bikers in our community, and an even larger number of bikers visiting throughout the summer, we hope to provide a weekly column describing regional rides that locals and visitors alike can explore. If you’ve taken a ride lately that you would like to share with your brother and sister bikers, email it to email@example.com. Include pictures if you can. Stories will be edited as print space allows.
I took a ride down to Lund, Nevada, about 40 miles south of Ely, on Saturday. I was at the gym and the sky was dark and cloudy and I was a little tired, but my belief is, if you wait for a good day to ride, you’ll never ride, so after my workout, I filled my gas tank and pointed my bike toward Highway 6 out of town.
I wasn’t even a mile down Highway 6 just off Great Basin, when I saw a speed limit sign that said 35 and one 20 yards past it that said 45. I’ve seen those signs often on Nevada highways, sometimes going up to 55 in a 30-40 yard space, and it makes me wonder, what sense is there in putting up signs 20 yards apart when there’s absolutely no change in traffic conditions? I wonder, too, do you have to wait until you’re even with the sign before you can go the speed listed or can you open the throttle when the sign comes into view? When I was even with the 35 sign, I could clearly see the 45 sign so it seemed to me the speed limit then was 45, right?.
None of it makes much sense to me, but then, I’ve never studied traffic and I don’t work in government… and if that’s how the government does it, then either it’s to make the highway safer — or — the guy who gives out the sign contracts is getting a kickback from the sign maker.
Getting back on subject though, once you climb to the top of the hill looking over the edge of the city limits, you get what might be the best view of the entire trip, looking down into a quick gorge with the mountains rising in the background comprising a stunning portion of the Humboldt National Forest.
If you’re downtown wanting to take this trip, you don’t have to ride out to Great Basin Highway; it’s probably easier to take Murry Street, a slow ride just a couple of blocks east of the Hotel Nevada. This road takes you through a really cool neighborhood that showcases a sample of life in the mining town of Ely.
Reaching Highway 6 from this point, almost immediately you’re in the mountains and while the road twists often, they’re smooth, easy-going bends that you can confidently lean into and enjoy.
Most of the time there’s little traffic through the hills, but this being the 4th of July weekend, I had a few cars tailgating me, one that even raised my ire to the point where I had to look back and employ foul language and hand signs to get him to back off; something that rarely happens to me riding through these local hills and valleys. But even up here in the mountains there are some idiots, probably from the big city far south of us that have to race up here on a holiday weekend so they can race through their vacation and then race home in time for work on Tuesday, none of them capturing the checkered flag but endangering the lives of the rest of us like we were all on their personal oval track.
As an example, one time I saw a dirt road off of this highway that I was dying to go check out. There was a fool about a quarter mile behind me so I turned on my left turn signal and slowed to make the left when this Bozo the clown decided he was going to pass me on the left. Stunned by his backwoods stupidity, I let him pass before making my left, feeling fortunate I saw him before I made my turn and my life came to a crashing end.
It takes probably 15-20 minutes to zigzag to the top of the mountain and then meander on down where you hit the straightaway and the road goes flat, cutting through thin emerald forest to Highway 318, which veers off to the east, heading into the small farming community of Lund some 12 miles up the road. While the watered farmland stands bright over the horizon, the grasses that line the sides of the road are parched and brown as you ride into the small valley and the smell of farm animals awakens anyone lulled into complacency while riding these roads.
There’s a truck stop on the highway and that’s about all I saw in Lund as far as getting something to eat and drink. I passed it up on the way in and rode through the town, which primarily consists of about a mile of Highway 318. The town is pushed up against a giant hillside and there are large shade trees leaning over the two-lane highway, which is lined with small houses surrounded by large, lush green lawns with porches that just begged me to sit on them so I could enjoy a beer and play my guitar or just listen to my Pandora while enjoying nighttime skies filled with a million stars.
I don’t know anyone in Lund so I wasn’t able to party on any of those nice porches, and there didn’t appear to be a bar coming up anywhere on the highway, so I when I saw the sign pointing out the mileage to the next town. I turned my Harley around and slow-rolled it back through town before heading to the truck stop to maybe have lunch.
The truck stop was a really cool old relic with a two-story hotel, a restaurant, a poorly stocked convenience store and a restaurant that was shut down. I bought a soda and while I was standing in line, I overheard the cashier tell a customer that the cook had quit so the eatery had to close.
I always wanted to be a cook and I was going to ask if I could be the cook, but then I remembered I had a job and Lund was too far away to ride to work everyday. So I took a few swigs off my Dr. Pepper, jumped back on my mean machine and made the ride back over the mountains to Ely, with views just as exciting as the ones I had seen riding the opposite direction.
This ride is a nice, short one to nowhere, and perfect if you’re a little tired or you don’t have a lot of time but want to get some riding in. It might even be cool to ride down and stay at the hotel and party one night, cause they do sell beer at the store and if the gas station lights aren’t too bright, it might be a good place to check out the stars.
Marty Bachman is editor of the Ely Times and an avid biker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-550-3943.