This ride has been on my “to-do” list for some time. The 100 mile drive east and back was my only deterrent. But I felt like I really needed to extend my boundaries on my map of places ridden and I think this did it. I had visited the bed and breakfast in Unionville 15 or so years ago so at least the name Unionville meant something to me. I came across the Lovelock-Unionville Road when exploring maps for routes off Interstate 80. At this point I am convinced every exit has something worth exploring. With our slight cooling temperatures I told Dean to be prepared for a hot 50 mile gravel grind with substantial climbing. My sales techniques are not improving but so far I have been able to deliver on my promises.
Turning off I-80 at exit 119 for Oreana and Rochester came none too soon. I figure every exit off 80 must have a gem of a ride to explore thus we must have passed our fair share. It was a bit of a stroll down memory lane ass we sped through the Truckee Canyon between the Virginia and Pah Rah Ranges thinking about the rides we had done. Then coming to Wadsworth and thinking about the rides we had done from there. Then there is a gap to exit 78, Jessup. We passed ranges scored by canyons and separated by alkali valleys, all rides waiting to happen.
Exiting the interstate and getting ready a car passed and the passenger leaned out to give us a big thumbs up. My guess is they don’t see many bike riders out here.The false flat start to the ride passed easily until we entered Limerick Canyon. The road stayed paved as we climbed this rugged canyon. The air temperature was cool but the exposure to summer sun was beastly. We both chose long sleeves to ride in protecting our arms. We took a short photo opportunity at a rare shaded pull-out. There was evidence of water in the canyon but it to had gone underground to get away from the sun. Nevada – where water goes to die.
We did not see much wildlife on the ride up. But notably we saw dozens of tarantula hawk wasps on the roadside flowers. They were accompanied by other nectar harvesting insects in abundance. 2016 has been a great year for the West’s flower blooms.
Close to the summit there was some road construction and an opportunity to talk to the flagger. He let us know we were at the turn-off to the dirt descent into the valley we would follow to Unionville. He was concerned that the road turned to dirt, I assured him these bikes were for dirt (I had earlier apologized to Dean that we were on pavement so long). As we passed the construction site I am sure we gave the workers something to talk about.
We topped out our climb at 9 miles of pavement and 2000′ of elevation gain. The dirt road descent into Spring Valley was a welcomed fast descent. We pulled over at a stand of huge cottonwood trees to take advantage of the shading canopy they offered. The trees were taking advantage of the water provided by a spring that was feeding a livestock watering hole. There was a Biblical abundance of grasshoppers here as well. As we departed we noticed the floor under the trees was carpeted with deer droppings. If you want to see things grow, add water to the desert.
Buena Vista Valley, between the Humbolt Range and East Range, is complete with its own alkali flat to explore. We turned north to Unioville but I was intrigued by the southern route along an emigrant route, now Buena Vista Valley Road. I see a future ride around the alkali flat with an excursion to the Kyle Hot Springs this Fall.
Arriving at the intersection of Lovelock-Unionville Rd/ State Route 400 and Unionville Rd/ Kyle Hot Springs Rd we were greeted by a Nevada historical marker explaining the history of the name change of Dixie to Unionville.
We climbed past a few nice properties and relics of the old township. We passed the Old Pioneer Garden B&B Guest Ranch where I spent a quiet weekend some 15 years ago. Unionville is a great place to find peace and quite.
After our lunch break we decided to turn back. There were still a few miles of Buena Vista Canyon to explore but we had 25 miles ahead of us and close to 1900′ of climbing in the heat of the day. The final climb of the day, Spring Valley Canyon, was tackled in 30 minute bursts, with short breaks to better appreciate where we were. The final descent back to where we started the day was a great time to reflect on our ride. Dean commented that the ride had so many elements of Death Valley NP. I was excited by finding a backroad route to Unionville and at the same time opening my eyes to the possibilities around Buena Vista Valley.