Waking up in Las Vagas on Sunday I opened the shades and was relieved to see mountains on the horizon. Bright lights and big cities are lots of fun but I knew I would go to those mountains. We spent the morning and early afternoon checking out Vegas and then I made a feeble attempt at running to the mountains I could see. Horizons are tricky things and after running for an hour the mountains in the distance where only a little bigger and I turned around defeated.
Monday was to be the day, however; and I rented a car and headed out to Bootleg Canyon where I had plans to rent a mountain bike. Jimmy, the World's Best Bike Mechanic, previously from the Hub, works out there now and it seemed like a pleasant way to spend a day.
All Mountain Cyclery where Jimmy works and where I was getting the bike didn't open until 11 on Monday's so I took my running shoes along so I could get in a run as well as the ride. I hadn't done any research on the area other than ask the guy on the phone when I reserved the bike what it was like (he said it was the most technical stuff I have ever seen which I assured him sounded like a wager to me) so when I pulled up at the trail head I didn't know where to go or what to do. I parked in a parking lot at the base of a little mountain, tied my running shoes and took off up a trail like thing and ran to the top of that little mountain. The trail was steep and covered with small jagged pieces of volcanic rock and made for hard going but also fun going. The trail eventually disappeared, or I followed the wrong trail, and it turned into a scramble to the top.
Once at the top of that little mountain I was granted a 360 degree vista that revealed many more mountains all around me. I decided then I would see how many of those mountains I could run up before I went to get the bike. I spent the next several hours doing just that. I ran on the downhill trails and then the cross country trails and went over three or so mountains in the process. The desert environment is obviously a lot different from the southern Appalachians and I was enjoying the varied terrain and bountiful views.
I was tempted to just run all day but I also wanted to say hi to Jimmy and check out the trails from the comfort of a mountain bike. So I did just that. The trail system was very accessible and I was out of my running shoes, off to the bike shop and back to the trails in no time. Jimmy set me up with a Rockhopper - the closest rental they had to a hard tail singlespeed - for a rare geared ride and my first ride on a full suspension bike since 2008. It was a lot of fun and I spent the afternoon riding around on the cross country trails. They were very much purpose built bike trails but there were enough jagged rocks and surprised shoots to keep me on my toes and the lack of vegetation had me amazed at the views all around me. I smoked my way through most of the bike trails and was then back in Vegas before the sun even set.
Lots of pictures: