Tag Archives: las vegas

Vegas Wrap-Up

welcome to las vegas

After my failure to take on Mount Charleston, and my first day dealing with the sweltering heat, I cut my losses. I returned the rental bike, and decided to spend my vacation like an ordinary tourist. That means I walked, and walked, and walked. And I ate, and ate, and ate. Most of the time was spent with wife and family, which was not ideal for a bike-cation.

The weird thing happened after I attempted Charleston. I knew that there had been a small fire over the weekend. At first I was concerned, but it was eventually contained. Or was it?

The day after my Charleston attempt, it went completely up in flames. We were resting in the hotel room when we saw on the news that people were being evacuated. When we left the hotel room to check out 4th of July fireworks, we could see a mass of smoke coming from the mountain. It was so immense that it covered much of the Las Vegas strip in black smoke.

We could see the billowing smoke from the heart of Vegas.

We could see the billowing smoke from the heart of Vegas.

It is a shame. As I found out the other day, the Charleston area is lush with greenery and vegetation, a nice respite from the brutal, desert temperatures down below. I hope they get it contained soon, and I hope it can one day retain the beauty that I witnessed on Wednesday.

That's Caesar's Palace in the foreground, burning Charleston in the background.

That’s Caesar’s Palace in the foreground, burning Charleston in the background.

Even though I did not ride again, this trip was good for me. Vegas has a way of getting you to walk. Whenever we wanted to do something, we would park at one of the hotels and walk over. Sometimes that would involve 2-3 hotels. When you walk through hotels, you usually have to walk through casinos and gift shops.

I walked for miles. Remember that I have not done any significant sort of weight bearing exercise in months, so my lower legs were not equipped. After the first day, my legs were screaming with soreness. At some points, I felt that I could not go on. I had to stop and sit more often, and found myself constantly giving my calves self-massage to alleviate the pain. All told, I am willing to bet that I walked a marathon in three days. The hip was sore a couple of times, but was not a major impediment. Depending on what the physical therapist says, more walking might be in my future..

Other highlights of the trip:

  • Took the Hoover Dam tour.
  • Crossed the California state line for the first time in 10+ years.
  • Ate at In-and-Out burger twice – my favorite indulgence.
  • Ate at two food celebrity restaurants.
  • Ate in ‘old Vegas’ and immediately understood why it is ‘old.’

Mount Charleston, Fail

mt charleston rd

Our timing for Vegas couldn’t be worse. We happened to be traveling during a record-setting heat wave. The temperatures have been in upper hundred-teens. Yes, that is teens with a 100 in front of it. I’ve been to Vegas in the summer, and it is always going to be scorching, but I don’t remember experiencing anything like this.

The only option for riding was to head out at the crack of dawn. Even then, it was 95 degrees when I left. My east coast friends will remind me that this is a dry heat. That might make a difference at lower temperatures, but anything above 110 is flat out painful, dry or otherwise.

I drove to the beginning of the Mount Charleston climb before the sun was out, and was ready by sunrise. Still reeling from the heat, I was hoping that climbing into elevation would give me some respite. I got myself situated with the rental bike as much as possible, but I didn’t want to waste time. The longer I waited, the hotter it would get.

As I began the ride, I had a feeling of unfamiliar discomfort. The Scott Speedster 40 that I rented was a good bit heavier than my bike, had different components/shifters, and was fit differently. It just felt wrong, but was something I could suffer through.

The climb begins deceptively. It has the look of a long, flat desolate road in the desert. That is a false flat, as it turns out. The grade was usually only 2-3%, enough to keep myself moving slowly, yet not nearly enough to hurt. I was still climbing. At one point I looked down and was surprised to see I had climbed almost 1,000 feet.

At one point, it seemed like the pedaling became more difficult. The road looked the same, but something was noticeably wrong. I felt something on the back tire, at first thinking/hoping/wishing that it was the contours of the road that made it feel off. Then it hit me. I had a flat on the rear tire.

It was 4 miles into the ride. You have to be kidding me!

As I ruffled through the saddle bag, I could feel the sun on my back and neck. Even at a slightly higher elevation, it was getting hotter.

There was no tube. There was a multi-tool, and that was about it. I had a tube in the car, which I had forgotten to bring, not knowing I would need it.

I knew right then that this wasn’t going to work. This was a foreign bike, with different types of components, and the flat was on the back wheel. Even if I grabbed the tube from the car, and got it road ready, I would be going up a massive mountain in dangerous temperatures without a safety net.

That was the end of the ride for me. It was a tough time even getting back to the car. The valve stem was broken, so despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get air in the tire with the hand pump. I had to alternate coasting with walking. It took me almost as much time to get down those four miles as it did getting up.


If there’s one thing I hate, it’s missing exercise. Rather than ruin the morning, I drove the 18 miles to where the road ends. The temperature dropped to a cool 70 degrees, and the views were spectacular. Since I still had a few calories to burn, I took the hiking trail towards Cathedral Rock. It was a pleasant hike, with new views every time I turned a corner. There was the option for a steep hike to the top of Mount Charleston, which was 8 miles, would have taken awhile, and would not have been feasible for a guy wearing flip flops. I turned around about half a mile from Cathedral Rock, close enough to see it. That was plenty for the day. Even though the ride didn’t work out, I had a great time.