Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wildflowers on River Mountains Loop Trail

With my recent travels, I haven't ridden my bike since the morning before our friends' wedding a couple Saturdays ago. Since I had today off from work, I went out and rode 67.47 miles on the River Mountains Loop Trail. There I saw wildflowers in bloom, a fellow rider, and a coyote! What a perfect day it was for cycling.
I made a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, and fresh fruit I brought home from our Girl's Weekend. John and I had coffee and spent some time with Havi and Elgy before he left for work.
Like me Elgy loves the sun. On the ottoman she basked in the morning rays coming through the blinds.
Soon after I said 'good day' to the girls and was out the door heading west on Horizon Ridge Parkway and four miles out, our friend Mauricio caught up with me.
We chatted for five miles before he needed to start his training ride. Tucked in for aerodynamics, he flew down Lake Mead Parkway on his TT (time trial) bike.
At mile 17, I got on the River Mountains Trail Loop near the entrance station of the Lake Mead.
I love the switchbacks just after mile 19 through 20 1/2 ... downhill twist and turns of sometimes 120 degrees with an epic view of the Lake Mead Recreational Area and Lake Las Vegas. Then the trail flows up and down, up and down like tracks on a roller coaster. Near mile 24, where the trail runs along the road I saw a coyote run up the hill. Just then Mauricio passed by on Lakeshore Road and he called out words of caution as I stopped to take photos. The coyote sat there for a while looking at me and seeing that I was not a threat started to walk off when I snapped this photo.
I continued on my way admiring the desert wildflowers in bloom all around me. Purple curly things with breaths of little white pom-poms scattered about. Bushes of canary yellow and egg white petals everywhere!
I felt like Alice in Wonderland weaving through the valley of flowers.
These cacti with fuchsia blooms were also among the scenery.
32 miles in to the ride it was time to stop dilly-dallying. I was still quite a few miles from home so I continued on the trail which ran along US-93 (Great Basin Highway). I passed by the gas station located across from Heminway Park (where you can find Big Horn Sheep grazing in the evenings) and was sad to see that they had indeed closed their doors. It was a convenient place to stop on the loop for energy drinks and food. The next closest place is on Boulder City, on the highway in to town. They always give cyclists free soda from the machine but I didn't feel like crossing a busy freeway so I kept riding. Passing Rail Road Pass Casino and along the west side of the loop.
Here I had just finished climbing the "Three Sisters" a series of hills, one larger and steeper than the other (I've been told that their nicknames are "Three Bitches" if you rode the opposite direction). The perspective on my camera does not do the last hill justice. A person would be the size of half the boulders lining the turns on the trail if that gives you an idea of the magnitude of the hill.
Flying down it is a rush because the descent is straight down. I coasted at 34 miles per hour and could have pedaled to gain speed but rode conservatively since I was riding alone. The trail would wind ahead until I got off of it, close to where I had originally got on the trail, and on to Lake Mead Parkway heading west towards home.
By the time I reached 61 miles, I was ready to be home. But first I pulled in to the gas station on Horizon Ridge and Valle Verde to fill up my water bottle with ice and pour an ice cold Coke. It was just the thing I needed to fuel the remaining miles left.

I don't think the temperature exceeded 76 degrees today but I was cycling for nearly 4 1/2 hours (close to 5 hours with all the stops) and so my skin naturally tans. Now I have this lovely Pearl Izumi logo on the back of my wrists and tan lines on my legs from my socks and shorts undoing the sun bathing I did in Palm Springs to even out my zebra stripes from cycling. Oh well...summer has not started yet!!

No comments: