Las Vegas Mountainbiking

In Blog by Eric BenjaminLeave a Comment

All my prerequisite courses are complete and I am working on a few details before PA school starts (like getting my immunizations up to date). Not only do I have 28 months of rigorous training ahead of me, I am also getting married and we just moved! Much going on as usual.

One of my goals before starting school again is to get back into shape. I have been sitting in a chair, studying for over a year now and I have lost my shape. All those miles of gravel have worn off. I’m pudgy and my muscular legs are a thing of the past. But I did get accepted into PA school and am on my way to be able to finally afford this cycling hobby of mine. 😉

We just moved and I wanted to ride in the mountains near the house on my fatbike, being that I don’t have a proper mountain bike. The last trip into the mountains of Red Rock Canyon was amazing but ripped the sidewalls out of both tires. Those tires had been through thousands of Midwestern gravel miles, including two LR100’s and a bikpacking trip on the Kokopelli Trail. Believe it or not, I had never changed the front tire! Fat tires are expensive! Those Husker Du’s served me well, from gravel to snow to singletrack.

The Las Vegas Wash and the Strip in the distance. Not a bad cycling view!

A few miles from the house I was in the above image – a river in the desert full of birds and bike trails! I have spied some off-road trails in the mountains and was hoping to ride them. The paved cycling paths are nice, but I was looking for some rough stuff.

Thanks to Bobby of District Bicycles in Stillwater, I was able to get the Beargrease back into commision with “new-to-me” tires. He sent some Bontrager Hodag’s my way, folded in a box with some old sealant stuck on them. I cleaned them off and set them up tubeless. They setup tubeless surprinsingly easily. They are very meaty compared to the Husker Du’s I ran on the bike since I’ve had her. I was about to test them out on some sandy, desert singletrack.

A river and wetlands area, full of birds! In the desert! Yes, I was surprised too.

From what I understand, this is a manmade wetlands that helps clean Vegas wastewater. It also provides a home for many birds and other species. When you flush a toilet on the strip is will end up down here after being treated. A nice surprise.

I took an off-road trail into the mountains. Soon I was wondering if it was legal to ride where I was. There were trails and gravel roads leading to the power lines out there. At one point I was riding through dried out, sandy creek beds. It was gorgeous. And it was made possible by fat tires. There’s no way skinny tires could have made it through the loose rocks and sometimes deep sand. I passed a sign that read, “no motorized vehicles,” so I think I was safe to continue riding.

I was off-road and having a blast! After a couple of dead-ends and hike-a-bike sections, I found my way deep into the mountains. Some of the route reminded me of a Meiser type of route (should I be riding here?)

Tough climbs and fun downhills were all around. There were some areas that would be a downhill cyclist’s dream but my mountain bike skills are rusty and about these Bontrager Hodags…

The views were beautiful. I was not in Kansas anymore to be sure.

Riding through dry creek beds

This slickrock climb led to a dead end that I hike-a-biked over to get further into the mountains. I was away from the city in about four miles from my house. This made me happy.

Gorgeous trails

As you can see, I rode loose, rocky, sandy climbs. How did the Hodags do? To be honest, I missed my Husker Du’s. The Du’s were light, supple and responsive. They also gave me sufficient climbing power in snow and loose, rocky trails. They kissed bumpy sections and gave me the confidence to climb and descend when necessary. The Hodags on the other hand were the opposite of soft and supple. The were hard and seemed disagreeable to helping me stay on the bumpy trail. I lost traction many times and lost confidence on technical spots. I decided to let some air out and gain some traction and suppleness. It helped a bit. I did gain better traction, but not as much as the Hukser-Du’s. The good thing about the Hodags was that for a meaty tire, they rolled very well, but after letting out enough air to get better traction and suppleness, they gained rolling resistance, but that would be expected when riding fat, squishy tires. Overall I felt let down by the Hodags, but was happy to have tires on the bike! Being a student means having no extra money for bike parts. Thanks again to Bobby Wintle and District Bicycles in Stillwater for getting me rolling again!

Once again, I have found that there is some good riding to be had in the Las Vegas area. Just look at this gravel goodness!

I pedaled about 15.5 miles in 3.5 hours. It was quite a workout. My legs had enough and were cramping up as I rode pavement back to the house. It was a great way to start getting back into shape. The rough, sandy terrain played havoc with the bike. My rear derailleur was chattering and I lost my granny gear. As I attempted to make a big climb, the chain ended up getting caught between the spokes and rear cog. It took some time to get that fixed and moving again. Looks like I am going to have to give her a tuneup.

Bad News. My gall bladder is shot. It is full of stones and sludge and it causing me lots of pain. This will be a setback with things but I hope to be up and riding, along with everything else I need to get done, very soon. My body is becoming a scarred pincushion. Oh well, I guess I will take another licking and keep on ticking. I have a lot left to do!