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County road 722 alternate route Middlegate to Austin

Day 10 & 11

20 miles very hilly and over 30c plus 42 miles the next day.

Middlegate was a nice stop for us, we knew we would be wild camping today so it was nice to have a night in a very basic but perfectly adequate room.

We chatted to quite a few people a lovely Dutch/Kiwi guy who has spent 3 months of each of the last 18 years cycling! A wealth of experience and some great tips.

I also chatted to a bloke whose job it is to literally stake claims for people. People / companies buy mineral rights on land and he makes a wooden stake with the GPS reference of the client and the location. He then goes by 4×4 or helicopter to the place and hammers the post into the ground thereby staking a claim. The ones he was making yesterday were for lithium. I have never met anyone who does this and he was an interesting and heavy drinking man.

We woke at 0615 this am, sorted out kit and had some breakfast. As we ate the lad at the bar was asking which route we were taking to Austin. We had planned to stick to the 50 but he recommended an alternative which is on our map. It takes County Road 722 is about the same length but instead of going up and down all day in the wide open, it has a huge hill to work up then a BIG downhill into Austin. The whole route is 64 miles which we have decided to break into 2 days. The other thing about the alternate route is that there is shade, virtually zero cars and even a stream.

It was indeed a tough climb. We did however have a guardian angel in the form of a kind and caring Italian gentleman (I need you to email me my friend as I can only remember your name began with C!). We met him not long after we turned onto the alternate route, he gave us water (we had a good supply but a big drink that we didn’t have to carry was great). We talked for a while and then said goodbye.

We got on with the ride passing through valleys and climbing hills. We saw deer, lizards and lots of birds.

At 1200 we stopped and hid in the shade of a tree for some lunch. Just after we set off our friend reappeared with more cold drinks. We may be poor with names but we won’t forget the kindness.

We pressed on and climbed from about 4000ft to about 7400ft over the next few hours.

We got to Carrols summit about 1400 and as planned started to look for s place to camp.

We soon found a derelict house by a stream. It was perfect so we pitched the tent, Tracey made up the sleeping area while I cooked – refried beans and jalapeños with bread, very tasty.

We settled down to sleep about 2030.

A good days cycling. Only 20 miles but hot as a jalapeño and uphill all the way. It should be a good roll into Austin tomorrow which is 44 miles away but mostly downhill.

About 0020 we woke to rustling outside. I had put a waste food bag high on a nail near the dilapidated house to try to keep it safe from animals. The bag was now being examined. I got up, naked, with a torch in one hand and pepper spray in the other – I’m not proud of this. I’m pleased to say I didn’t paper spray a Gopher! There was nothing to see. I settled down again and 5 minutes later our friend was back. this time it sounded to be near the tent I looked once again but couldn’t find anything. I decided that the animal was small and quick and therefore likely to eat us. We made the decision to just ignore it. Remarkably we were able to do this and a while later we were asleep.

0600 and up for breakfast. Beans and bread cooked in quick time, pans and us washed in the stream and on the road. A big down hill for 40 miles depressingly my second puncture in 3 days and then a BIG and tiring 2 mile climb into Austin.

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Austin is a town of under 200 people, there are 2 shops, a bar / restaurant, 3 motels and a couple of jewellery shops that sell locally mined turquoise.

We decided to stay at one of the motels as we were a bit grubby and fancied a shower and proper bed. (we know we are wild camping again tomorrow). We checked into the Lincoln Motel and then went to the International Bar over the road. We passed ‘Make America Great Again, Vote Trump’ signs. A rather morose lady took our order for immense pizza and beer, this was in the cafe part of the building. After scoffing the pizza we went to the bar area where we met two lovely guys Tom and Charlie who looked at maps and talked about local life with us for a while over a Brandy and ginger beer for Tracey and a Jack Daniels for me.

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We left the bar after about an hour, shopped for the next 2 days, opened cans and transferred the food to bags to lighten the load, washed clothes and prepped kit.

So here we are. A long leg over the next 2 days. Ill try to blog again when we arrive in Eureka.

 

 

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