I have this maybe-a-little-obvious new-found obsession with the Plateau Passage bikepacking/dirtbagging route which was cooked to perfection by the route chefs over at BikepackingRoots.org. I’ll share more about the route in later posts, as this blog has kind of turned into a bit of a fan site (laughing emoji), but today I’d like to talk a bit about the very start of the PPR.
During our PPR recon trip through Rainbow Gardens with LT yesterday, she suggested that I spend today riding downtown to find the exact spot the GPX file says is the starting point. It looked like it might be somewhere in or around McCarran International Airport, but who would start a bikepacking route in such a place?
I hopped on the Vaya (currently in LobsterPacking mode), as the Fargo is still awaiting a tire replacement from WTB (very rad customer service, btw), and there was no real off-roading planned for today’s excursion (something else in parentheses). The two of us pointed southwest in search of the tail of the purple snake, which represents the track of Segment One of the PPR on my trusty Etrex. It’s a cold day in the desert, and yeah it’s a dry cold, which is worse in a lot of ways. I press on through the hardship of 40 degree weather to the intra-city bike paths which serve as a makeshift serpentine shanty town which shelters many of our un-homed here in Las Vegas.
After being the only butthole riding around McCarran International on a bicycle for about 15 minutes, I found it. It turns out that the start of the route is actually at entrance 54 of Terminal 3. Now, I do get the point of starting here. You fly in, grab your disassembled bike, put it together outside the entrance, put your box in recycling (please), and head east towards Frenchman’s Mountain. Simple enough. But what if you are already in town, or are staying here for a day or longer before traipsing off to parts unknown? On to the next mission…
I started following the route looking for a more inviting place to drop a start pin on the map for this 2000k trek. Leaving the airport you flow through mainly back roads for the first bit to Eastern, where they pick a really bad spot to cross the road. I headed north a block and saw a 7-11 convenience store. Honestly you could go any direction one block in this city and hit a 7-11. The place is rotten with them. Immediately upon entering the parking lot I spied north yet another block and recognized the shopping center which houses a bad ass taqueria at which I had just eaten lunch YESTERDAY. SCORE.
Taqueria El Tizon #2 should be the unofficial starting point for the Plateau Passage Route. I mean, there’s a Taco Bell there too and a Cici’s Pizza, but this place has Al Pastor on a rotisserie. It’s legit. Starting here is a great idea, get some good grub, slam some Agua Fresca, and be on your merry way. If you are riding in a group, even better. I’ve always found that sitting around a table and sharing food, laughs, and stories with your riding friends a great way to begin an adventure. I’m sure a few of you reading this would agree. I hope that the folks at Bikepacking Roots will accept my humbly submitted course start change suggestion, which is solidly based on these delicious facts.
From Tizon you can simply make a right turn onto the bike lane on Tropicana and follow that all the way to the Wetlands where you begin the off road section through Rainbow Garden/Lava Butte and on to Lake Mead Ave. It’s a much simpler way to the rocky stuff, in my opinion as a newly assimilated local.
That’s it from Day 2, which turned out to be an amazing day of riding a 10.2mph pace while wandering around Las Vegas. 36 miles to the airport and back with some shenanigans and a giant burrito thrown in for good measure. Next post is Day 3, aka “The Day That Interrupted Writing About Day 2” with an impromptu road trip to Utah to scope out the PPR from Mesquite, NV to St George, UT. Stay tuned for that next…