Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Explore North San Diego County

Few places can match the ocean scenery, gently rolling hills and craft beer possibilities than north San Diego County. I write about them for the Review-Journal's travel section.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bicycles and the Movies

There are some classic bicycle movies -- Breaking Away, Pee-wee's Big Adventure and American Flyers.

But here are three well-known movies that are not necessarily known for their bicycles but the bicycle played a huge role in each flick.

1. 40-Year-Old Virgin: Steve Carell uses his bicycle to get to work and crashes one night, to set up the final big scene.

2. Wizard of Oz: Miss Gulch is on her bicycle when Todo pops out of her basket and runs home.

3. ET:

Variety of Bicyclists Rolls Every Monday Night in Vegas

Nothing like a new bicycle ride to see a new side of Las Vegas.

For nearly three years, I biked the roadie circuit in Red Rock Canyon, pedaling a nice Specialized Roubaix road bicycle into the Red Rock foothills and feeling the awe and power from those big red stripes on the mountains.

And for jollies, I would bike a steel-framed, single-speed fattie cruiser -- the Surley Pugsley -- for that rolling party on wheels known as the Blinking Man Ride in downtown Las Vegas twice a year.

But on Monday night I discovered a third great ride to create the Holy Trinity of Las Vegas bicycling -- the weekly Monday night Smash Brothers ride that rolls out from The Beat coffeehouse on East Fremont in downtown.

It featured a stunning array of working man bicyclists from Rich, a white dude with a rolled-up bandana in his waivy hair who was a full-time substitute teacher on a fixie and wearing long purple shorts; Henry, a black guy who lived near Desert Breeze Park, rode a 2002 Trek 1000 (Trek's intro road bike) and worked as a handyman; and Edgar, a Latino in long gray shorts and Vegas Bike Store bicycle jersey while pedaling an upscale Cannondale road bike.

There were probably about 60 in all, mostly riding fixie bikes, but lots of roadies and non-Spandex types on old mountain bikes, too.

Five reasons why I love this ride:

-- Monday. Gets the week off to a flying start and rejuvenates you after the first day of the work week.

-- Night. A big crowd of blinking red lights makes safe to ride at night.

-- Cross-section of bicycles; Fixies, road, single-speed, mountain bikes -- they were all there.

-- East Vegas: Most bicyclists ride the western suburbs, and then the Red Rock Canyon area. This offered a taste and view of the East Vegas grit and working man side of town.

-- No bicyclist left behind: Every several miles, we stopped and re-joined up with our fellow bicyclist. You were never alone on this ride.    

We biked out of downtown to Maryland Parkway, flew down a hill at 30 mph and made a right turn on Washington for a ride through Vegas' working class east side.

These weren't the Summerlin roadies or the Blinking Man rolling bike bash folks. It was a different crowd; An unpretentious crowd of bicycle lovers who were rolling together and had each other's back as we pedaled east.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Time For a Hi Five of Bicycle Links

It's time for my Hi Five -- five bicycle links that grabbed my attention.

1. Even the Tour de France is not immune from gun shots when Paris police fired at a car that broke through a Tour de France barricade. Police are searching for the four car occupants.

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2. God bless those well-intentioned road planners and public works designers, who try and stick bike lanes everywhere. Sometimes, like in this case in Colorado Springs, the bike lane gets a little bit wacky -- and can lead a bicyclist to a potential death.

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3. When you're on a bicycle and you're in the middle of nowhere and  gotta go, well you gotta go. In this case in Idaho, this bicyclist poop job led to a fiery mess.
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4. This country is filled with inspiring stories of overweight people who used a bicycle to change their lives. This fella tips the scales at more than 400 pounds, yet he wanted to bike across the country to change his life. One little problem -- his bike broke down. But a bike shop came through and gave the guy a free bicycle for his trip.

5. Tragically, bicyclists are killed across the country. In this case, a garbage truck killed a bicyclist.

Check Out This Year's Pedal to the Medal Ride -- Oct. 3 at Craig Ranch Regional Park

The Pedal to the Medal fund-raiser bicycle ride is back this fall and the Las Vegas Valley Bicycle Club is the ride's host.

It's a money maker for great causes -- the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Special Olympics Nevada and the Southern Nevada Bicycle Coalition.

Here's your web site to register and find out more about the Pedal to the Medal: register here

It's Oct. 3, a time of year when the weather gets super nice and there's a variety of distance rides to choose from. The city of North Las Vegas is involved and the start and finish will be at Craig Ranch Regional Park.

Plus, there's a children's bicycle rodeo and great raffle prizes like one girl's bicycle and one's boy bike.

See you there!

Cycling The Las Vegas Alps At Mt. Charleston

Time to climb.

On Sunday morning, I drove to the Spring Mountains visitors center, which is around 6,500 feet in Kyle Canyon.

Then it was off to the Las Vegas ski center, 14 miles away and more than 2,000 feet of climbing.

But the views -- it's worth the grind up on State Road 157.

Peak on 157 was 8,437 feet.

When I finally reached the ski center, I joined some motorcyclists. And then they came -- a bunch of Porsche motorists who felt entitled to take over the entire end of the road because I guess they're special for owning Porsches.

Then it was back to 157 for the ride to the visitors center on Kyle Canyon Road.

And back at the visitors center. Total elevation gain -- 3,470 feet.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

An Arena Park Coming To Life -- And Meeting Friends On The Road

I flirted with driving to Big Bear outside LA for a bicycle ride an expo, but ended up falling back asleep at 6 a.m. and launched my own 41-mile bicycle ride from Summerlin to the Strip, UNLV, downtown Vegas and the RJ before taking the Alta Blvd express back up the 1,100-foot hill back to Summerlin.

On the Strip, I checked in on the arena that is called simply, "Las Vegas Arena." I have been covering this story for the Review Journal. Most people see the arena coming to life from the Tropicana Ave ramp of I-15 but here's a shot of the front of the arena from the Monte Carlo side.

MGM Resorts International, which owns the casinos on the south end of the strip such as Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, Monte Carlo, Luxor, MGM Grand and Aria, is also building the arena with Anschutz Entertainment Group. MGM Resorts is building a park plaza that will lead from the Strip to the arena. Here's a shot of the first trees installed in that plaza. It'll be along the north side of New York-New York and you enter the park next to Shake Shack.

Here's an overview.

Here's a look at the park plaza looking east toward the Strip.

Here's a shot showing how close the arena is to the New York-New York parking garage.

The good news is that a one-way road is now open from the Strip west to Monte Carlo and you can see how the Monte Carlo parking garage will also be crucial to serve the arena.

I met two drunk women on Las Vegas Blvd at the entrance of the road off the road. One told me not to drink and drive and I told her not to drink and walk.

Then it off for a ride down Harmon to UNLV, a quick trip down Maryland Parkway to downtown Las Vegas and Fremont Street, and a peddle over to the RJ for a bathroom stop and a water bottle refill.

On my way back up Alta Drive, I met an old face -- not Locher, former Review-Journal photographer now shooting for the AP out of Vegas.

John bought a new Cannondale and it was good to see him pedaling up Alta. We biked to Buffalo where John turned around.

And as soon as John left, there were about 15 cyclists coming up Alta -- the Las Vegas Valley Bicycle Club. I met Kristine M,, a Channel 3 news producer who was cycling and sweeping the ride.

A group stopped under the cloak of shadeness to wait for other riders to catch up.

And then there was the old left turn from Alta to Hulapai. The group was only a mile from the start-end point at a Starbucks off Charleston in Summerlin.

I rode a few extra mile to complete the 41-miler. It was getting downright toasty at the end.