Sunday, September 29, 2013

Viva Bike Vegas Review - Week #5 30Things-30Weeks-30YearsOld

Some of you might remember a few weeks ago when I was trying to figure out which fall races/athletic events were worth depleting my savings account doing.  Well, one of the more pricier activities was the Viva Bike Vegas sponsored by Zappos.  
Shortly after the post that discussed the many spectacular racing opportunities this fall, with reckless disregard for my bank account, I signed up for the 18 mile ride.  
"Viva Las Vegas" - how could I resist including a little Elivs in this post?

As the day for the ride came closer, I got more and more excited, especially after that fateful trip to REI during which the fine people of REI made me look more legit.
Don't I look like a real cyclist?
Finally, last Saturday morning (September 21), I woke up around 6:30, put on my super sweet cycling getup, loaded my beautiful bike in the back of my car and headed to Town Square for the start of my Viva Bike Vegas experience.  
I did have a minor fail-moment when I first arrived.  I had already donned my cycling jersey prior to arriving at Town Square, but once I got there, I remember that your numbers go on your back when you're riding.  This was just a bit of a "runner fail" - I'm used to being able to put my number on while wearing my shirt.  Fortunately, for once in my life, I was actually early, so I had plenty of time to ask a nice volunteer to pin the tail on the donkey my number to my back.  I also had time to snap a few pictures, enjoy the atmosphere, and even witness someone proposing to his girlfriend at the start line!!

The main reason I wanted to take part in this event was that for the first several miles you ride straight down the Las Vegas strip.  We were required to stay behind the pace truck the entire way down Las Vegas Blvd, so I was able to take bunches of pictures.  Basically, the next couple pics are shots that you've seen before (and probably shots that I've even posted on this blog), but this time there are cyclists in the picture too.
obligatory "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign with my fellow cyclists
passing Planet Hollywood with the Paris ahead of us
As we continued down Las Vegas Blvd, we passed several notable sites: (1) casinos, casinos, casinos; (2) what seemed like a hundred tattoo parlors; (3) even more wedding chapels; (4) my office; and (5) the Pawn Shop from Pawn Stars.

Eventually, we turned left on Stewart Avenue (a couple of blocks north of Fremont Street), in front of the new Zappos headquarters.  We rode down Steward and turned left on Main Street to head back towards the finish line at Town Square.  At some point after we turned on Main Street, the pace car left us and we were able to pick up the pace and get a real ride in.  Over the remaining nine miles, we snaked our way through some back roads and then came to Warm Springs Rd., rode over the I-15 overpass and then turned left, looped around, to the parking lot at Town Square and my 18 mile adventure came to an end.

**Just in case anyone does this ride in the future, the last turn after you ride over I-15 is easily missed. At the bottom of the overpass, you must turn left to loop around and actually go back under the overpass to access the finish line.  I saw several riders miss the left arrow and turn right into the Town Square parking lot.  You CANNOT access the finish line unless you make the LEFT turn.  I was fortunate to be riding near a rider that had done Viva Bike Vegas the previous year, so I followed her and crossed the finish line without a problem.**  

18 miles is my longest ride to date.  Hey, I'm new to this road cycling thing and I still have to try to get runs in so marathons don't kill me.  It was really fun and the amenities at the finish line were basically the bomb dot com. 

Plus, everyone got a medal and a sweet Gatorade towel.
In addition, the Nevada Department of Transportation was giving away a bunch of safety swag and I'm a pretty big fan of bicycle safety.  I was especially amped about the reflective slap bracelet.  The wonderful ladies at People for Bikes advised that your seat post is a great place to store the slap bracelet and it will be available should you need it some night on a ride.  I was also excited about the red flashing clip-on light.  I'm storing it in my bike pouch in case I find myself out at night, I can just clip it on my backpack or the back of my shirt/shorts to make myself more visible (and be in compliance with traffic laws).
This was a really great experience.  I really don't have anything negative to say about the entire event.  I mean, they could make that last turn a little more obvious, but that's the closest to a negative comment I can come up with.  I definitely want to start riding more often.  Vegas seems to have it all as far as getting in shape for cycling.  If you ride from downtown towards Red Rock, it is a long gradual climb.  Alternatively, you could ride the Red Rock Scenic Loop or any of the multitude of bike routes near Lake Mead for a more rolling hills type of ride.  Vegas really has it all...I just need to take advantage of it more.

I also want to do another organized ride again soon.  Anyone know of any great rides in the Southern Nevada, Southern Utah, Northern Arizona or Southern California?

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