(Note - pictures will come tomorrow when I pull them off the camera.)
Rolled out of the hotel at 2:45 am, bright and early. OK, pitch black and early.
The first few hours were in moonless aphotic dark, the skies ablaze with stars. I stopped once and looked up, mesmerized by the celestial glory. I wish I had more time, and a good telescope, the seeing would have been glorious. Alas, there was no time to admire the sky; the road called. Riding 1000 miles in 24 hours requires non-stop moving.
For many hours the only light was the bike's high beams, casting their flood of illumination before me. It stayed dark so long I doubted the day would ever come. At last, barely discerned, the horizon formed, a faerie's kiss of shape, less than a smudge against the inky darkness. Gently, slowly the sky took shape. Before there was any light, the silhouette of the surrounding hills took form, contours half-seen, at first to the east, then all around. Anon, a faint glow emerged, a cast of yellow, fading to blue as the dawn brightened.
The sun rose as I rolled into Tonopah, filling the tank and turning to Ely. Alas, the early morning sun was directly in my eyes for the first 30 miles or so. Squinting through the piercing glare, it was endured, until the road turned more northward and removed the vicious shine.
Getting to Ely, I learned a very important lesson: Hammering the throttle destroys gas mileage. I rolled into town with 0.8 gallons of fuel left in my 5.8 gallon tank. I'd only gotten about 33 mpg. Ahead, I knew the longest leg was 192 miles; at that mileage, getting there was problematic. So, I added a gas stop on the fly at Ash Springs. That added 10 miles to the overall ride, but also cut the 192 leg down to 150 or so. My normal gas mileage is 45-50 mph, going a lot slower.
I stopped in Rachel at the Little A'Le'Inn, an alien themed restaurant along the Extraterrestrial highway. Had a very good sandwich, washed down with a sparkling glass of water. I broke my soda addiction for this trip; don't want to deal with caffeine on the road. I should keep off it, the stuff does me no good. (But it tastes so swell!)
Later in the day, I rode Highway 376 to Austin. The road was incredible, following a long mountain ridge on the left, each summit topped with a puffy thermal cloud. It would be amazing to hang glide the range, flying from one thermal to the next, chasing the mountain's cloud street through the eternal vault of sky. But this was a motorcycle trip, so I was ground-bound, drifting through the endless playas along valley floors.
Making the penultimate gas stop in Austin, the final stretch set in, pointing the bike's nose towards Carson City, racing the waning sun. I got back to the hotel about 7 pm, tired, butt-sore and grimy, but with a smile as vast as Nevada's open reaches. I had done it. 1000 miles in less than 24 hours.
I don't think I'll do it again, I much prefer the shining glory of a twisty goat trail to the boundless reaches of open road. I like my roads tight and twisty, not straight to infinity. Yet still, I look back on this ride with satisfaction; a goal achieved.
To the road: I salute you.