Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Yearlong Story Of Bicycle Love For 2015

2015 was an amazing year for the Bicycle Stories blog. Drum roll please, for Bicycle Stories' Top 10 bike themes and stories this year.

1. Pugsley's Fat Tires Hit the Road -- and Dirt and Snow

I ride the Surly Pugsley single-speed steel fattie everywhere -- downtown Las Vegas, Mount Charleston, Red Rock's scenic drive and even boring suburban Summerlin.

Day or night.

And remember, you are never too old to ride a Pugsley.

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2. Land of Lincoln County

Less than two hours north of Las Vegas is Lincoln County, a sprawling county of quiet two-lane roads, state parks and great bicycling country. I enjoyed a 100-mile bike ride put on by the state park system in October and I highly recommend it.

Thank you Kevin Turchin -- the famed "Turchinator" of Summerlin -- for telling me about this wide when we biked a week earlier on State Road 159 in Red Rock Canyon. It lived up to Kevin's billing. And great work by Dawn Andone of Nevada State Parks for working with her crew on this great park-to-park bike ride.
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3. Motorists Killing Bicyclists in Las Vegas Valley

Regrettably, there were too many solemn memorial bike rides, stories about bicyclists being killed by motorists and memorial services to remember cyclists who lost their lives on the roads of the Las Vegas region. I asked, "Where is the outrage?"

At least nine bicyclists lost their lives in metro Las Vegas in 2015. Heartbreaking.

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4. "Refund?!"

Breaking Away is an iconic 1979 bicycle movie that inspired millions of people to ride a bicycle and was celebrated at Interbike in September when the trade show organizers brought together three of the four "Cutters."

It was a personal thrill to meet Dennis Christopher (Dave Stoller), Dennis Quaid (Mike) and Jackie Earle Haley (Moocher).

The trio reunited at an Interbike awards dinner -- and the crowd went wild.

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5.  The Mighty Pacific

In early January, I had the chance to bike Big Sur and will never forget the sloping Pacific Coast Highway running up and down along the oceanfront mountains south of Monterey.

The January weather was pleasant for my 12-day trip up and down the California coast.

The start of the trip began with this guy in Ventura. Kevin Cannon.

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6. Tour of California and the Chairmen's Ride in LA

I caught up with North America's premier professional race -- the Tour of California -- in May. Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) puts on this road race, which attracts more than a half-dozen pro racing teams that will go on to the Tour de France.

The Big Bear stage had to be moved to the Six Flags amusement park because of snow, which allowed fun shots of racers cycling in the shadows of big roller coasters and between toll booths.

On the morning of the final stage, AEG held the Chairmen's Ride, a bicycle ride from its headquarters at LA Live in downtown to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Perhaps you will recognize the tall guy bicycling -- that's famed 7-foot basketball star Bill Walton.

And the day before, I had a wonderful reunion with great friends Vic and Rachael, along with their precious daughter Lucia, in Santa Monica.

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7, Bill Lasher and Ride 2 Recovery

In July, I had the honor of reporting about Bill Lasher, a Las Vegas business owner who makes handmade full-suspension trikes for wounded warriors so they can bike off-road. Here's my story on Bill.

Then in November, the Ride 2 Recovery road ride came to Las Vegas, and the veterans who lost arms and legs in war were biking with local cyclists on the Strip and in Summerlin. I joined the ride and wrote this report on a very moving event.

For me, this was the most powerful scene of the ride -- seeing a cyclist push another cyclist push another cyclist up a hill on Alexander Road.

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8 . These Guys -- the Pedaling Yentas

These are my boys -- Scott, Anthony, Kevin and Ben, We chit-chat while pedaling, thus the Yenta Rides we do together.

Our Sunday morning rides take us to the Red Rock Loop, where we talk about everything from New York experiences to politics to ailments to music. They're wonderful friends -- and it's great to share that friendship on a bicycle.

And how can I forget Jared and his Wednesday morning rides.

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9. Zion and Big Bear

Two stunning out-of-state bicycle rides took place at Zion National Park in southwest Utah and the Tour of Big Bear in California outside Los Angeles.

I wrote a travel story for the Review-Journal on Zion in May. The theme was bicycling Zion, which bans cars from a main road in the national park during most of the months.

For more about bicycling southern Utah and Jared Fisher's amazing Escape Adventures tour company, read this.

Then, there was the gorgeous mountain landscape of Big Bear, where I met bike ride organizer Craig Smith and saw the scenic course that Craig arranges for the Tour of Big Bear. It's a four-hour car ride to mountainous pedaling joy in Big Bear.

10. The BeFly

She's a beautiful woman who feels her joy for life when sharing her love for bicycling by leading beach cruiser bike tours in a city named Lakeland between Orlando and Tampa in Florida. Beth Geohagan is like no other bicyclist I know, a standup-while-pedaling, helmet-spurning, take-the-lane-always, never-wearing-Lycra chica who started a bike tour business called BeFly Bike Tours.

Beth is following her bicycle dreams and I was lucky enough to have my bicycle life intersect the BeFly. In 2014, she pedaled a hefty single-speed bike from Summerlin to the Red Rock scenic drive visitors center and then a heavy hybrid bicycle around the steep scenic drive. Beth humored me by agreeing to wear a helmet on the steep-hilled course of the scenic drive in Red Rock Canyon.

Beth's life is a bicycle life, and she discusses BeFly Bike Tours and how she uses it to connect people with her city.

Beth traveled to Las Vegas, where we biked everywhere, from the Strip to the railroad tunnel trail overlooking Lake Mead to Red Rock Canyon last year.

I was dumb enough to let Beth slip away for a time, and now I hope our bicycle lives will connect once again.

Stay tuned for a beautiful bicycle life that I hope we may share in 2016.

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And Plus 1 -- Pugsy

Thank you Malanda Schmitz for this beautiful portrait of cycling Pugsy. In loving memory of dog lover Harriet Snel.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Pugsley As Work Transportation Too

My newspaper office is a mere 1 1/2 miles from Container Park in downtown Las Vegas.

So, why take a car when a Pugsley will do.

On Wednesday, I brought the Pugsley into work via my car and then pedaled over to Container Park for a story on a new wedding chapel.

The Pugsley is a beautiful urban ride as well as an off-road bike.

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Bicyclist's Reason For Making His Bed

I make my bed every day and make sure my apartment is tidy and organized.

Here's why.

If a motorist kills me while I'm bicycling, I don't want my sister Debbie -- my designated person to contact in case of emergency -- to come in and see a messy place.

For me, that's life living and bicycling in the U.S,

The truth is that even with my risk management smarts, all my light-my-bike-up-like-a-Christmas tree illuminations and hundreds of thousands of road bicycling miles, a careless, distracted or uneducated motorist can end my life in a mere heartbeat.

I think about my mortality every time I leave my home on a bicycle.

Like tonight, when I prepared to ride my single-speed beefy-tired Surly Pugsley, with fat tires the width of those on many motorcycles.

I planned to bike down Alta Drive to downtown, a drop of elevation of more than 1,000 feet and then ride back home, returning to near the 215 beltway.

It was cold biking down the big hill 10 miles to downtown. I wore three long-sleeve shirts, a large bike jersey and a reflector vest, plus tights and gloves. As I flew down the hill hitting speeds of 20-25 mph on the single-speed steel beast, I could hardly feel any tension in my pedal stroke.

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As I was bicycling back home from downtown, a woman drove a car onto a sidewalk near the Paris hotel on the Strip and killed one person and injured 36 others. There's a possibility that the driver intentionally drove her car on the sidewalk to try and harm pedestrians. Terrorism was ruled out.

Just today, I heard that a bicyclist hit by a motorist in Henderson in early October has succumbed to her injuries and has died this month. The bicyclist, Cara Cox, was the ninth bicyclist to be killed by a motorist in the Las Vegas area in 2015.

I don't understand how we as a nation and a city can accept so much carnage on our streets without a come-to-God epiphany that we need to drastically revamp the education process by which we allow people to get behind the wheel of a car.

With all this carnage and deaths on the roads, people wonder why I ride a bicycle so much.

Bicycling is like breathing. I need to do it.

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On the way home, I caught up with another night-time bicyclist, a bike commuter who works at SLS on the Strip.

Tad bikes 10,000 miles a year, and never drives. He's not allowed to. He said he's technically blind and can't get a driver's license.

But he's fine at biking, and pedals his 25-30 mile roundtrip for his job from Summerlin to SLS and back.

Tad enjoyed checking out the fattie with red and white lights rimming both wheels.

We chatted all the way up Alta Drive, swapping bicycle stories. He even worked for Sheldon Adelson at the Venetian, where Tad performed as an Italian-theme singer at conventions and on the gondolas.

It was around 9 p.m. when I got home.

And my bed, made and perfect, was just like I left it.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Another Bicyclist Dies In The Las Vegas Area

Another bicyclist in the Las Vegas area has died.

This time, a woman name Cara Cox who was riding her bicycle in Henderson in early October has succumbed to her injuries after she was in a coma.

A 74-year-old female driver had struck Cara. Here's the news report on Cara being hit.

Cara is now the ninth bicyclist to be killed by a motorist in the Las Vegas area in 2015.

About a month before Cara was struck, about 500 bicyclists met in Summerlin to hold a rally to spotlight the problem of motorists striking and killing bicyclists.

Every bicyclist I know can share a story about a motorist endangering their safety.

I never met Cara, but we bicyclists know that in many cases it could have easily been one of us struck and killed by a motorist.

For the life of me, I can't understand how society accepts killed bicyclists as just a part of the regular carnage out there on the roads.

It sickens me and I think about my mortality every time I start pedaling.

Pugsley and The Pupfish

The Pugsley's fat tires make for such a unique ride that I find myself pedaling it more and more.

It's a ride that makes you feel like you're floating on air.

And it's great for off-road biking on dirt roads like the ones at the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.

It's a watery refuge in the middle of the Mohave Desert outside Death Valley near Pahrump.

It has a Devils Hole where a pupfish is clinging to existence with a mere 100-200 swimming around.

Here's some background on this unique pupfish.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Light of Day

The Pugsley before dawn today.

Remember -- lights on to stay alive.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Riding the Pugsley on the Famed Red Rock Scenic Loop

Last week, the Pugsley chewed up the snow at 9,000 feet on Mount Charleston. Today. I pedaled the Pugsley from my home to the top of the Red Rock Canyon scenic loop, climbing more than 1,500 feet to reach the 4,771 feet at the peak of the scenic drive.

Before today, I never took the single-speed, steel fattie Pugsley beast around the loop because of the steep hills and the Pugsley's lone gear,

But today I was charged up to ride the Pugsley around the hilly loop after talking with the beautiful Beth of Lakeland, who biked her away around the loop with a heavy hybrid when she visited last year. (Beth is a bicycle tour business owner and her BeFly Bike Tours can be seen here.)

So, off I went. Here is finally reach Mile 4

In fact, Mile 2 and Mile 4 have nasty steep grades, but the ride was easier than I anticipated. The single speed did the job and I reached the overlook fairly well.