9.29.2005



Mountain Biking in VEGAS!

as mentioned before I was hesitant about a trip to Vegas
in addition to the expense of this trip
there was also hesitation due to the whole
"what happens in Vegas.... stays in Vegas" ad campaign
so... in an effort to keep myself honest I arranged that a few of us on this trip would go mountain biking
certainly the thought of an afternoon in the hot desert sun would get us to bed earlier and keep us from ordering those last few unneeded drinks

the only other taker on the Vegas Mountain Bike Adventure was my college buddy and co-bestman Snoopy (aka Kevin... a name he started using in his quasi-adult life... still Snoopy to me)
which was fine... as it was not a free adventure and the less waiting the better

the trip was booked through a company called Escape Adventures
there was one other rider aside from Snoopy and myself
we were skeptical of his skills... but he was traveling with his own pedals which says something and the tour company assured us that he was confident with his technical abilities

the Escape Adventure company picked us up at our hotel with a fleet of Santa Cruz Blurs on top of the white van with Escape logo painted on the side
the third member of our ride was already in his gear riding shotgun
he was in his early 50's but clearly looked fit
we drove the 45 minutes off the strip to Red Rocks Canyon

it was good to get off the strip
as mentioned previously the Vegas Strip does not make any sense until the sun sets
there is plenty of shopping to be done for those that seek out such things
such things do not entertain me
there is also the pool.... but more pale middle age folk than bronze beauties
no need to spend my time there
so spending an afternoon on the bike fit into my desires perfectly

we were scheduled for pickup at one in the afternoon
our driver/guide arrived on time
nothing shy of professional.... not the rusty 1971 VW van I had expected
we loaded up our gear and jumped into the van
my heart started to race and energy began to build even before I opened up my can of Red Bull
our driver/guide, Chad, was a transplant from Minnesota
our fellow 51 year old tourist was from Michigan
most certainly Chad never knows what to expect from his riders on these day tours
we talked about our desires and our abilities as we drove out of downtown through the rapidly growing sprawl which is Las Vegas

in our discussion I made it clear that I would enjoy technical but was not looking for any "major drop offs"
sold myself as a fast sport rider or a slow expert with no boasting
there was some talk of recent races
the other riders gave ideas of what they were looking for on this day
everyone being humble
everyone under selling themselvse

once at the trailhead I suited up in my gear
after pounding my can or Red Bull and popping a few E-Caps I was suited up in head to toe City Bikes gear and ready to ride
this was to be my innagural ride with the new City Bikes jersey... flames and all

I went to the top of the first rise to releave my bladder as the others finished getting ready

Chad was on his single speed
the three of us were on tour provided full suspension Santa Cruz Blurs

there was a gradual grade at the start
then it moved into a slight descent
that would be the tone of the day
moderate up and moderate down
a roller coaster ride through the desert
a path meandering between cacti and a wide variety of other prickly plants whose names do not know
in the distance we were surrounded by a variety of mountains and various mesas
it pleased me that we went around the mesas and not so near the mountains
the roller coaster was far more appealing to me than a long steady mountain climb
although I never mind a screaming down hill

it was good to have Chad as our guide
he worked well as a pace vehicle
always giving a little forewarning to obstacles, barriers, and change in grade
our pace was brisk
but not hectic
too fast on the soft squishy bike was sure to slide off the soft squishy trail
running off trail would certainly end up in a prickley mess comical to all
well... comical to all other than the human pin cushion

there were moments of serious smiles
after warming up and getting a feel for the bike and the earth beneith me I really enjoyed myself
it is always great to get out on the bike
the trails were awesome
there was desert wildlife swarming around me
hummingbirds, well bird
some ground birds... maybe a quail of sorts
some desert lizards
as far as plants
all sorts of interesting desert plants.... all of them prickley
some of which got stuck in my leg
while others just stabbed me in my arm

at one point we had a unintentional breather when Mike from Michigan had some pedal/cleat issues
we managed to set things right and get back on the trail after a little hassle
nothing that tarnished the day
as such things are all part of mountain biking

the three hours of riding went by pretty fast
the desert sun was not as brutal as we feared
actually with the breeze it was rather pleasant

late in the ride both Mike and Chad flatted out
it was so close to the end that they continued riding rather than breaking for the repair
bummer for Mike as the final miles were a bit of a rush

the ride left me wanting more
the loop was described as an Intermediate/Expert loop
having ridden with Chad on this set of trails I wished I had booked him for another day
as he knew a little more of my capabilities and could certainly take me to some alternate loops that may have offered a tad more technical
that is not to say there were not technical sections
there were many.... most of which I had to stall on or dab on as the trail was unfamilar
and
the desert terrain is not my native riding ground thus offering a different set of riddles to solve

it was an awesome ride
Chad was an awesome guide
he was mellow and fast
a great combination
a guy who loves to ride and does not mind getting paid for it

it worked out well linking up with the third rider
Mike definitely held his own
there were never any worries that he was over his head
as he was fast and steady on the bike

if you are headed to Vegas and you love to mountainbike
contact Escape Adventures
you may want to request Chad
but I am confident that all of their guides are equally as qualified and equally as cool

Red Rock Canyon
these trails would be great not only for riding
but also for the elite trail runner
the runner would want to do a shorter loop
but the vistas and views would make it worth while
oh... one last thing... wear amber lenses... the desert is always more beautiful with the amber lenses
Chad called them Prozac Shades

photos to come

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