Vegas to Reno – things go downhill

Continuing my Vegas to Reno story….

I had been riding down a good fast road for quite some time and was happy that I was making good time and bringing my average speed up. when I realized I had not seen a course marker in a while.  The put up at least a mile marker sign every mile but I had noticed through the day that a few had gotten knocked over so I convinced myself I must still be on the right road for a bit.  After a while I couldn’t deny it anymore…. I was lost.

I slowed down to pull over and glanced in my mirror to see a quad behind me.  Then in the process of pulling over and looking in the mirror I hit some rocks on the side of the road and fell over.  Not a big crash or anything but I looked and felt like an idiot, oh well, no damage.

I recognized the quad rider as someone I had seen pulled over to the side of the road just a couple miles back.  I suspected he had pulled over due to a mechanical issue or something but he gave me the thumbs up so I kept riding and didn’t think much of it.  After I stopped he pulled up and said he had pulled over because he suspected he was lost and when he saw me he followed thinking I knew where I was going.

I did have the course on my GPS however I had not been looking at it since the tiny screen is difficult to see in the sun and the course had (until now) been well marked.  I couldn’t see the course on the screen so I figured I had something set wrong, either way it was obvious we needed to turn around and backtrack along the road we had been on.

Luckily there was good visibility along this road so back tracking wasn’t too dangerous.  I suspected if the two of us had missed a turn it would be likely that others behind us might miss it as well.  As we were backtracking I noticed tracks in the road from several other bikes who had turned around.  Looks like several bikes ahead of me had missed this turn, but they realized it much more quickly.

A few miles back up the road we met up with one of the UTVs heading toward us.  They stopped and I pulled up and asked if their GPS showed them on the course.  They then realized they were also off the course and said they missed a right turn just a little ways back.  So now the quad, UTV and I were riding back up the road, found what we thought was the turn we missed and took it.

About a 1/2 mile down that road it came to a dead end…. we were still lost.  The UTV guys were sitting there playing with their GPS and I left them and the quad and once again back-tracked up the road.  Once I got back to the main road I pulled over and really studied my GPS and was able to find where the course really was.  When I found the turn we had missed I did check and sure enough, there was no sign or any other markings, even the turn itself was a bit hidden, I had not even noticed it the first time through.

After the race I downloaded my GPS track and found the location where I missed the turn to see how much time I had lost.  At the time I estimated it at over 30 minutes but according to the GPS it was only about 20.  I was frustrated to loose time even if it was only 20 minutes.  Loosing 20 minutes now meant the trucks would catch me 20 minutes earlier and 20 minutes less of daylight.  Even so I was back on track.

Things went smoothly to the next pit at around mile 150.  Dad mentioned that a lot of the pit crews for the trucks and buggies had arrived so they would probably catch me before too long.  We had a good quick stop and off I went.

This is where things really went wrong.  Just about a mile out of the pit and I suddenly smelled the overwhelming smell of fuel.  I looked down to see there was no cap on the gas tank!  The tank was completely full so fuel was sloshing all over me and the bike.  I immediately pulled off to the side of the road causing even more fuel to get sloshed around.

Considering how much fuel was sloshing about I figured I must have lost the cap just moments before I noticed it so I took a walk back up the course to look for it.  It had to be there, it must be there…  I was on a straight stretch of road and when I didn’t see it I figured it must be at that last corner so I kept walking.  No luck.  As I turned around I noticed how far I had walked from the bike, in full gear, close to mid day in the Nevada desert.  This was really the only time through the day where I had noticed the heat.  Oh well, nothing to do but walk back to the bike and keep looking for the cap.  I walked along the opposite side of the road and kept looking.  I didn’t find the cap but about 1/2 way back to the pit I did find an empty beer can lying in the desert.  I could make this work.

I got back to the bike and pulled out a pocket knife and cut the bottom off the can.  It was a decent fit over the filler neck of the tank.  A couple of zip ties to tighten it in place and off I went.  My race was not yet over!

Note the custom beer can gas cap.

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