Las Vegas Trip Report
Dec.11-15th 2003

So no shit, there I am, trying to write up this nice trip report, and I'm about halfway done, and bam, it all deletes.  I was very unhappy to say the least.  What can you do...so I guess I'll start in again.  See what I can remember from the first time I wrote it....

    Sometimes after a great trip I feel motivated to write up a nice lengthy trip report.  Well, that ain't the case today.  I'm avoiding work like the plague and what better way than to write about one of my favorite subjects.  I'm in California on Friday and like Kramer would say, "I'm already gone." Doesn't help matters that I'll be at Copper tomorrow.  Life is real rough these days....

    So this story starts way back in summer of 2003.  Out little crew is batting the idea around email of another trip to Arizona in winter (2003/2004).  Sneaking away to the warmer climes, you know the dealio.  Well Shaine sends out an email about Las Vegas, and a link to Bootleg Canyon.  I check it out and this place looks good.  Real good.  So I start pimping around the idea of two trips, Vegas early winter, Arizona late winter.  None of you fockers bite on the early trip except Jason, and even he's noncommittal because of work.  Arguing of whether we're going to Vegas or Arizona in late 2004 until the Fall.  Fade to the top of Georgia pass, whole crew in effect, we're lazing about just at tree line, not a lot of oxygen in the air and great view in 360 degrees.  The discussion comes up again, and delirious from lack of oxygen, violence ensues.  Who would have thought Eric knew Jujitsu and would break arms to get his point across.  Needless to say the argument was decided in Eric's favor, Arizona Feb/Mar 2004.
    November comes around and I still have 10 days of vacation left.  With IBM's policy of "use it or lose it", I had to figure out how to burn 10 days before 2004.  I start pushing for the Vegas trip and once again Jason steps up.  We get dates set.  Sweet!  Vegas Baby!  Vegas...
    For those that don't know, Ali (Jason's wife), likes to (uhum) gamble, and she wanted in on this trip.  BONUS!  She organized all the hotels and rental car.  Skip forward to last Thursday afternoon, and Jason calls me to let me know he has rental car, a Trailblazer...I was expecting a mini-van.  I voiced a few concerns about being spacious enough, but Jason was confident that it was big enough.  6:00 at the roadcut, my cell phone rings, Jason was supposed to be here by now, and guess who it is.  Jason says he's got two problems, he can't find his wife and the blazer might not be big enough.  What can I do but laugh.  He arrives at the roadcut with wife at 6:30, we do a lot of rearranging, make a few strategic decisions on what to leave behind, and as Shaine loves to say, "We were off like a dress on prom night."

    After crossing a few snowy passes with Jason at the helm, we stop in Beaver Utah for the night/morning at 3AM.  I listened to more Techno in one night than I ever have in the rest of my life.  We're on the road by 10am, and in Vegas which we pass right through by 1:00pm.  We're headed to the village of Blue Diamond which we make by 1:30PM.  I've heard tail of a local trail call the Cottonwood loop trail.  We walk into the LBS and ask the proprietor (with an Australian accent I believe) where the goods are. 


Without saying nary a word he walks back outside and points at his window, which has very clear directions to the trails.  He says that there are over 115miles of trails, all  ridable from his shop.  Being forever a skeptic, I immediately think bullshit, but tell him thanks.  Back to the car to strap it on for the ride.  After 45 minutes of messing with Jason's bike(new rear rim installed/setup,rear shock, pedals, seatpost...think that's it), we're are on our merry way. 

We're immediately on this sweet very smooth and flat desert single track.  Surrounded by Joshua Trees and yucca plants with a ton of other desert plants thrown in the mix.  It was like we were in a different world from Colorado....except for one problem.  All this white crap was on the ground!  WTF!!!!!!!  I left Colorado to get away from the white stuff on the single track. 






<sigh>  The single tracks good and like the guy said, nearly endless.  Riding along, I see an animal off in the distance.  It's a freaking wild burro.  Once again, something we don't see here in CO. I get off the bike and move closer for a picture.  A 2nd burros sees me and starts cockily sauntering towards me.  Not aggressive, but I get the impression he doesn't like my presence, so I jump back on the bike and catch up with Ali and Jason. 


After a couple hours of wandering we end back at the shop via a roundabout route, with very little climbing.  The single track is good, but one complaint, with the caveat we just touched the surface of what was there....needs some uphills in it.  The area we went through had tons of hills, but all the single track we found seemed to circumnavigate it.  Back at the car we ran into a local and talked for awhile about the area rides.  He suggest a good downhill on the cottonwood trail as well as something called "The Cowboy Trails".  With directions to both, we were off Vegas proper and our hotel Palace Station for some face stuffing and gambling.





    I wake up early at 8:00am at an hour earlier than Ali and Jason wish to be up at.  I of course am ready to ride...we stuff our faces once again at the brunch buffet and we're on our way to Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, about 30 minutes down the road.  We get there at a decent hour, and get ready to ride.  Bootleg Canyon(BC) is actually a mtn. with a radio tower thing on the top of it.  Similar in concept to Green Mtn.  As we're getting ready, we see quite a few serious downhill rigs go by strapped to cars.  I wonder if I'm in the wrong place with my "measly" Heckler.  We get going faster than last time and head out on the Mother trail.  A few minutes into it, Ali decides she wants to do her own thing, so Jason and me turn on the juice, and I can barely stay up with him.  I've said it once, and I'll say it again, he's the best off the couch rider I know.  The riding here is all very loose...in climbing terms: chossy.  Not so bad that you can't climb it, but you have to check your speed before you the turns to avoid major washout.  Any exposed rock is brittle and easily fractures off.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure how sustainable the area will be.  I hope it lasts better than I think it will.  Plus side, there were very few riders on the single track, and being a nice Sat. it would have been stuffed with people if it was the front range.  
    We hook Mother up to IMBA, to POW trail, back to IMBA, to Girl Scout, and then jump on Boy Scout to the top. On the way up we met two nice local gents, who told us that snakeback was the easiest downhill trail down from the top.  Quite a bit of cross country single track here, but not so much that a strong rider couldn't send it all in a day.  At the top we stare at the radio tower some more, still unable to figure out exactly what it's for.  Looked a bit alien. 


    We stared down at a  few of the downhill trails and couldn't discern any differences between them other than they all appeared to lose a lot of elevation fast. Perfect since they are DH trails.  Since neither of us is a true downhiller, nor do we own DH bikes, we take the easiest way down.  We figured if we got to the bottom, and it was too easy we could either ride back to the top, or get a shuttle (yep, road access to the top.)  We make a few tight switch backs as we descend on Snakeback...it's aptly named.  We also figure out real quick that they weren't kidding when they called this a downhill trail.  After the 2nd switchback, we came on a section of trail that lost more elevation in 15 feet of trail than I thought was acceptable for my sorry ass.  We walked.  We had to walk several more rocky and steep sections on the way down.  It was cool, but I didn't feel the need to try another.  At the base of the hill though we came across the Mtn. X course, official starting ramp and all.  I've always thought this type of racing might be more up my alley since I can't XC race to save my life.  I was a bit sketched out on the first run, by on the 2nd I got into a little groove...knew the turns, where I would catch air, and where to check my speed to avoid unintended attempts at some of the very large doubles(by my stds.) on the course. 







We saw a guy have an issue with doggy interference on a 20 foot gap double. The dog got in the way of the launch and the guy cased the hell out of the landing, ejecting his rear wheel from the frame, and sending it about 15 feet into the air.  Rider and dog okay.  Bike, not so much.  After checking out a BMX course that wasn't much fun for me(but Jason loved), we headed to Hoover Dam for a quick site-seeing tour before the sun dropped below the horizon.  One word: impressive.

    Up slightly later on Sunday at around 9AM.  We've decided on the Cowboy trails, on an inclined plateau formation, as they sound more on the techy XC side of things with some good climbing.  My power-alley for shear enjoyment.  No signage for bikes around at all at the supposed trail head, nor cars.  It's snowed recently (and mostly melted), erasing most tracks.  After some searching around, I find the tail-tale signs of chain ring marks in a log.  We get ready to ride, and follow the dirt road up.  We see singletrack off to the right, marked up with tread.  We break off, no map, and start our ascent.  It's been cloudy all day, and about half way up, we look to the west.  A menacing storm is coming in. 


 No question really here, we kept an eye on it, but we went on climbing up.
And to the north we got Vegas's Redrocks.

 
Single track shot...In a lot of spots we couldn't see the trail at all.




We reach the top which is a great overlook of Las Vegas, from maybe a 1000-2000 feet above the city. 

Our route to the top was the most roundabout one we could find, to add as much ST as possible.  We decided to try and find a shorter route down to the car, due to the impending storm, and the gale force winds it was bringing.  What a good choice it was.  The trail dropped down in some high paced twisty (but not so twisty you couldn't keep speed) ST.  It then moved into a still fast section that just flowed with drop after drop. 

I hear Jason say something ahead of me, but can't really make it out.  He's stopped on the trail, and looking at 4foot off camber drop with choss at the bottom you have to clear, BUT there's a 90 degree turn 15 feet into the landing.  You don't make that turn, you're going for the long ride.  We decide to walk it.  One more drop like that comes up on us to disrupt the sweet flow, and then the trail transitions into this very steep chossy(broken small rocks fill the trail), descent that is always just on the verge up being unriddable.  We're doing this near power slide the hill, barely able to stay on the trail.  All I gotta say is, I LOVE MY DISK BRAKES.  We get to the bottom of that trail, Jason and I are both wearing the perma-grin only imparted from such a spectacular ride.  We wish we had time to do it again, but the storm is coming in and we're losing light.  We roll down the rest of the mellow hill to the car, and the clouds let go.  Perfect timing.  What a suiting finish to a great ride.  We stopped by Las Vegas Cyclery and find out that our descent trail called the "Bone Shaker".  How cool it that?
    Our final day is supposed to be just a travel day, but I can't leave it alone.  I want one more ride.  I brought the lights, might as well use them.  I get up at 3:30AM with every intent to make it to the top of Cowboy trail for the Las Vegas overlook.  It would be just before dawn I figured, and the view was eastward, so I figured it could for a pretty sweet photo-op.  I get to the trailhead, and park the car.  I can hear the wind whipping around the car, surrounded by darkness.  It's spooky.  Normally I never night ride by myself, and I contemplate in the car for a good ten minutes whether I should be doing this.  Stupidity wins over and I'm on the bike.  I don't ride fast (uphill or down) when nightriding and that morning was no different.  The temps were too cold, so I knew I would be able to make it to the top before losing feeling in my toes.  I kept plodding along going uphill, staying focused on the beam of light I was shinning up the trail.  I could only see a few feet to either side.  Such an eerie experience.  I see a small barrel cactus nestled next to a yucca plant (or is it a Joshua tree?)  I decided to try my luck with some night shots. 

After I take a 2nd shot, I hear a "HEEEHAWW" in the distance, maybe 200 yards away.  Apparently my flash startled a wild burro.  Thaddump Thaddump...hmm, he seems to running away.  Then it seems to get louder.  I'm wearing ear warmers so the sound is muffled.  I take them off for better hearing.  The sound is clearly getting closer.  It also sounds like there's more than one of them.  My heart starts to race, thinking about my options.  My bike would be no help if a charging burro were to run me down.  I quickly turn light towards to sound, trying to assess whether I'm really being charged by this crazy animal.   I still can't believe a wild burro's first choice would be to charge.  It stops for a split second, and then continues. I flip my bike around, and point it downhill, and just start hammering.  I'd never done the trail before, but amazingly I remembered almost every turn from the uphill.  I slow just enough for the corners, and pound the pedals out of each one to get back to speed.  I launch off an unexpected 1.5 foot drop at speed, and nose dive it into some choss.  I double unclip, and ride a nose wheelie for maybe 5 feet before the rear end drops back down.  I don't take time to clip back in, I just keep hammering.  I reach the car in record time.  I don't believe I've ever ridden a trail that fast, especially at night.  I was outriding my light almost the whole time.  It was a crazy experience...I'll never know if he really was charging me or not, but I thought he was.  What a way to end a great trip.  Time to get back to the hotel for drive back to Denver.