If you’ve been following along here, you’ve gotten more Plateau Passage Route Posts than you were bargaining for, as if you were bargaining for any to begin with. This past Thursday I finally set out to conquer Segment 1 from Las Vegas to St. George, UT. I wrote a little post about it, wanna hear it here it goes…
Thursday morning started off much like any other Thursday morning: wake up early, coffee, breakfast, nice talk with LT, watch grumpy teens be grumpy about their morning. There was one glaring deviation from the norm this time, though. I was leaving on a much planned and dreamt about journey towards St. George, UT shortly after the house emptied out its other human contents. My nerves were also pretty standard for a long solo ride departure: a little jitter, a little quitter. If you have done anything “big” by your own standards, you probably get what that means. It’s easy to think about quitting before you even start. It’s called convenience, I’m sure you have heard of it.
When the house was finally down to just me and the fur kids, it was on. There were a few last minute things to tend to such as changing the pedals on my bike (always a great idea to wait until the last possible minute on that task) and making sure all the things were tightened, strapped down, or otherwise secured to the bike. Everything checked out, tires were inflated to pressure, water full, and it was time to lift off.
The beginning of the ride is an easy roll down Hollywood Blvd’s brand new protected bike lanes to the entrance to the Wetlands, my official start to the route (which isn’t the official start to the route). I made the gradual left arc towards Lava Butte and prepared for what was to come, which ended up being a little easier than doing the LB run from the Lake Mead side. There are a few nasty descents, but for the most part it’s a beautiful off road way to exit the city. At mile 17 I passed through the Lake Mead Recreational Area toll booth and on to 50 miles of paved (yuck) glory to Valley of Fire State Park.
The goal for the day was to make it to the VOF entrance sign before sundown, and considering I was a little late out of the gate it was going to be a challenge. I’d love to sit here and write some incredible story of what transpired, but as there were no flat tires it was pretty standard. Here’s some highlights as I’m still feeling lazy and am only writing this because someone wants to read it. Wink.
- The Park Ranger at the toll Lake Mead gate was astonished at what I was about to do. I appreciated his seemingly feigned awe.
- I found a pack of Marlboro Reds strewn about the middle of Lava Butte trail, whomever dropped those is going to miss them a lot more than I miss smoking them. Not gonna lie, I did consider picking a few up for the trip. I didn’t
- I was, of course, passed by the usual super kitted up roadies. Happens every time I ride this road, this time is was a pair of dudes in Castelli full kits buzzing by on their cool carbon road bike with the accompanying sound of aero carbon wheels whooshing by. I said “hey, look at you two” and laughed a little. They seemed unimpressed as to be expected. There was also a follow up solo dude a ways off the back. I suspect these guys ride out to Redstone, which is kind of the unofficial “summit” for this road, allowing them to ride a billion miles back to the entrance. Anyway, I didn’t miss my roadie sighting or their return zip past my slow ass climbing yet another hill.
- I stopped at mile 31 for a lunch of madras lentils, a little chocolate, and of course water. Super exciting
- The scenery was as breathtaking as usual as was the trash in order: License Plate, Cooler Top, Pool Noodle, Orange Squirt Gun. Every time I pass these I wonder if everyone who passes by these odd pieces of trash make the same mental inventory. Picking them up seems a disservice to the cycling community of the greater Lake Mead area, one part of me wants to properly dispose of these items, the other part of me doesn’t want to throw someone else into a state of mental chaos trying to figure out if they are lost, on the wrong road, or if someone was responsible enough after all these years to finally do some trash removal. I’m not going to be the one to cause such madness, and I fret that some other potential do-gooder may incite the same wild paranoia in me. Feels awfully Lovecraftian.
- My rear brake was being a real butthole and at one point had to pull of the road and do a hard reset on the caliper. I even screamed “DO NOT MAKE ME TURN THIS CAR AROUND” at thing. This helped a bit, but the goddamn thing was noisy for the entire ride. It’s on the maintenance list, as well as the shit list.
- I stopped at Redstone picnic area, which is a dune off the side of the road that has a little hint of Valley Of Fire to it, and I still suspect that this is where the mysterious roadies do their turnaround. Yes, still, like from a few bullet points ago. Upon arriving I was greeted by the same crow that is always perched atop the highest rock, doing his job giving everyone the “ka-kaw” and probably practicing a little bird judgement. It’s a really fantastic spot to have a picnic, and has restrooms and a small hiking loop to walk off your picnic foods.
- After Redstone I started thinking about an old friend whom had passed away this week. I dedicated my ride this day to him, as he would have really loved to be a part of it. Had a good cry about him for a few miles, Rubber Side Down even in the afterlife, Dan. Thank you for the opportunities and friendship.
- I rolled past Blue Spring, where LT had rescued me from a pretty brutal storm a few weeks ago, and took stock of the sun position. I had just enough time to make it to the Valley Of Fire sign. It’s on!
- I went, for all I could muster, full on sprint for the next few miles until reaching the turnoff. They put the sign back a few miles off the road. Dirty trixters, but I made it and got the picture. Yay.
- As the sun set I FaceTimed LT and shared a bit of the day’s shenanigans, then set out to find a camping spot. It was super dark.
- Ended up “camping” at the Visitor Center right around the corner from the water bottle filling station. It was incredibly windy, but a south wind, so I was well sheltered by both the building and the knowledge that in a few hours I would wake to the south wind and let it carry me through the park and on to Overton.
- I apologize for this being in bullet points. Maybe next time it will be a slide show.
And with that, day one was over. 69 miles, 4900ft of climb, zero energy left. I laid my head down on my seat pack/pillow and tried to get some sleep before starting off on day two.