I partied at the Hotel Nevada on Friday night, drank a few beers, left with a woman who had a dog, and so rather than ride my bike home, I left it parked in the Nevada parking lot. The fact is, just about every time I drink at the Hotel Nevada I leave my bike in the parking lot and walk home. I only live a block away and with so many bikes parked out front and around the building, and with so many cameras pointed at it, I feel it might be even safer there than out front of my own house.
I continued to party at home and was up half the night, and in the morning, after parting with my guest, I loaded my gym bag and walked down to pick up my bike so I could go work out. While I was packing my bike, I saw my buddy Machete’s Harley parked next to mine so I went to the hotel bar to see if he was around, and he was, finishing off a bloody Mary, looking for me.
We talked for a few minutes and I could see he was primed to go for a ride. Machete rides a Harley 1200 Sportster but works one of them 9-5 jobs and has a woman and family and can’t just get on his bike and ride the way this old man can. The only thing that slows me down is my dog, who I hate to leave behind when it’s time to travel, but after eight years together, he’s learned to deal with it. He’s the saddest dog in the world when I leave but the happiest when I get home.
Anyway, I wasn’t all that committed to the gym that morning so I suggested we take a quick ride out to Major’s and have a beer, which he was up to. It was a crime of opportunity and so he downed what was left of his drink and we hopped on our bikes, lighting out down Highway 93 south.
I like to ride with people but I don’t do it very often, more so because I ride every day and am just used to getting up and going without having to wait on anyone. Also, some folks you ride with they ride either too fast or too slow and I like to ride at the pace I like to ride at. Machete though, is a good guy to ride with. He’s always easy-going, smiling and accommodating, shaking hands with anyone who enters within his space. If you want to go fast, he’ll go fast but if you want to ride easy, he’ll ride easy.
Me, I ride easy. About 15 years ago the Nevada Highway Patrol pulled me over for speeding just north of Searchlight and that ticket cost me half a week’s pay. I hate the government and I give them leaches more than enough of my paycheck every week, which still isn’t enough for them, so to be hit with a fine that cost me half a week’s pay was enough for me to never beat the speed limit again, with few exceptions.
Anyway, we rode down 93 over the mountain pass, taking nourishment from the smell of the pines as we rode through the forest, banking the turns and surfing the wind. It was a blast and we reached Major’s far too soon. We stopped for a beer and talked about how short the ride was when Machete said that he had never been to Great Basin National Park, so we decided to take that ride. Why not? I didn’t have to be anywhere, he didn’t have to be anywhere, the weather was gorgeous and we were on Harleys. Is there a better recipe for fun? Again, it was a crime of opportunity.
We got on the highway and set out across Spring Valley, over the Sacramento Pass and down to the turnoff towards Baker. From Baker we took the right toward the park, and then made another right up toward Wheeler Peak.
As we climbed the mountain, the weather went from hot to cold to warm and back again as we slowly hit markers noting 7,000, 8,000 and 10,000 feet and higher up the hill. We cruised into the campground at the top of the road, found one of the few empty spots, and took a break, exploring the woods and the creek that ran out back through the forest; then talking to nearby campers that were visiting from Colorado. If I had brought camping gear, I could have stayed there for days, it was that beautiful. Riding down the mountain was just as alluring, with views overlooking cliffs, steep mountain gorges, and the ever spacious Snake Valley, desert brown with shades of deep olive-green colored, fertilized fields sprouting up across the countryside.
I could probably ride up to Wheeler Peak every weekend and never grow tired of it. Every trip is a new adventure with it’s own storyline and plot.
When we reached the bottom of the hill, arriving back in Baker, Machete wanted to stop at a bar we passed when we first came into town. I’ve only been in Baker a couple of times, and the times I was there the bars looked pretty non-descript and barren, even when I visited for Snake Valley Days a few months back and there were people in town visiting. But I figured, “why not,” so we pulled into the gravel lot and parked outside the front door.
They were putting up pop-up shades in back and there was a horseshoe tournament going on across the parking lot. A young guy with a thin handlebar mustache came up and introduced himself as we were about to enter, real friendly and curious about where we were from and what brought us to little Baker. We shook hands and walked into the bar and it was full of women — cute women — mostly too young for this old man, but there were a handful of mature ones imbibing as well, all of them as friendly and curious as the young man who we met at the door.
We sat back at a table where we had a great view of yoga pants resting on the back of each stool that lined the bar, yet close enough so that we could still join in on whatever conversation was going on. When an opening appeared, we moved up to the bar and were having a good time getting to know the local talent until the horseshoe guys came in and these chicks totally forgot these “hot bikers” were there as they gushed over the horseshoe tossers.
Despite the slam to our egos, everything was good and we finished our beers, went out back to see if we could get a plate of BBQ — but were told it wouldn’t be ready for another hour — so we said our farewells, hopped back on our rides and split toward the Border Inn to get some gas and one last beer.
There wasn’t anything happening there but we hung out for awhile and watched as a gang of preppy bikers arrived from Utah on their BMW motorcycles. I don’t know how anyone can turn a work of art such as the motorcycle into something ugly, but in my opinion, BMW had turned making ugly bikes into an art form. We both agreed, we’d be riding a Yamaha, a Honda or a Kawasaki before we’d be seen riding a BMW.
Anyways, we finally cut out and headed west toward home. We stopped at the bathrooms at the Osceola turnoff and I tried to convince Machete to ride the dirt road over through Osceola, but time wasn’t on our side so we got back on the highway, making one last stop at Majors for a final beer before heading home.
The ride through the mountains was peaceful and relaxing and then we opened it up on the straightaway for the final miles to Ely. Upon arrival into town, we paraded down Aultman at 20 mph to the Hotel Nevada, the thunder of our Harley engines letting everyone know of our triumphant ride; one of the greatest rides the world has to offer.