Sunday, May 24, 2015

Covering Lots Of Vegas Ground And Streets Thanks To The Mighty Pugsley

Saturday afternoon was busy. Five places in Vegas, some on the Strip, one in downtown. . How to connect them all?

The bicycle, of course.

The Surley Pugsley fattie was the vehicle that tied it all together. I broke out my Kryponite U-lock and enjoyed great parking at each place -- a very underrated part of functional biking. In the end, I biked 21 miles, had fun going place to place and even burned a few calories.

Let's check in on this mini-tour.

Stop 1: UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center for the Las Vegas Outlaws Arena Football Game

I drove with my Pugsley to a side street across from UNLV and pedaled less than a mile to the Thomas & Mack to check out the arena team. Well-known rocker Vince Neil is a partner, so the team has received some publcity just for that. As a business of sports reporter, I like to check in at games to meet team partners, see the venue and scout for biz stories.

I locked the bike on a gate next to a parking attendant who also watched the bike.



I also met another partner Bob Hewko, who used to own an AFL franchise in Miami in the early 1990s.



And by biking to the arena, I saw the Thomas & Mack rehab work.



OK, let's bike to our next stop. The Neonopolos building courtyard for the Banger Brewing beer festival. It was a five-mile ride from campus to downtown Fremont Street Experience, where Banger and the Neonopolis are located.

Along the way, I even pedaled through an alley and saw the new container park-like commercial development next to the Pawn Stars site.



I like to take the lane on Las Vegas Boulevard, as I am allowed to, because, the width is too narrow for me to bike on the edge and have a car pass me in the lane.


Stop 2: Banger Brewing's Local Brewers Festival at Neonopolis' Courtyard.

Banger Brewing is a great business success story -- five guys in their 30s pooling resources and opening a micro craft brewery on the Fremont Street Experience. I reported on Gov. Sandoval even visiting the place: Sandoval loved a peppery beer.

The Boys of Banger set up a festival for fellow local brewers such as Craft Haus, Old School, Big Dog's, Joseph James, Sin City, Ellis Island, Chicago, Bad Beat and Hop Nuts to offer their samples. There's Mr. Banger, himself.


I locked up the Pugsley on the post of the Old School tent. The Pugsley drew a lot of bemused glances.


I met my beer pal Liz for a few samples and we even met two international visitors -- Glenda from Australia and her friend from South Korea. Both are studying at New Mexico State and decided to take a sojourn to Las Vegas, staying at the hostel and popping over for the festival.



Then, it was back down Las Vegas Boulevard and Maryland Parkway for a visit for our next stop. Again, no edge riding. Narrow lane? Take the lane.




Stop 3: UFC 187 Fight Event at MGM Grand Garden Arena

Ultimate Fighting Championship functions like Vegas' home pro sports team. Lorenzo Fertitta has created a money-making fight organization with President Dana White as the front man. I don't know another sports organization better at putting together its events, and then marketing, packaging and selling it UFC events are important for me to attend, because it's a good place to touch base with guys like White and scout for business stories. You have to be in the field and not at your desk if you want to mine a beat for stories.




This is where I locked up the bike at the MGM Grand. Don't worry -- I had already removed my U-lock.



Practically next-door on the south side of Tropicana Avenue is MGM's outdoor festival site, which hosted my next stop.

Stop 4: Professional Bull Riders Last Cowboy Standing Spring Break Event

Las Vegas is also a cowboy town. And even though PBR holds its World Finals in Vegas in the fall, it also has a smaller even in May. So,this year it marketed the May event with a spring break theme, including pools and beach volleyball to attract fans who otherwise might not attend. I reported on this strategy last week.



I pedaled over to the PBR tent, and Jordan Johnson the PR woman was nice enough to allow me to park Pugsley right in the media tent.

Then it was off to check out the site.

Of course, there was bull riding.


But also flying dogs into a pool.


And this being spring break, cowboy style, gals in the pool.



But, it's still about people who love country-western lifestyle and good ol' fashion bull riding.


And now off to the final stop of the day. LaGasse's Stadium mega-sports restaurant/tavern over at the Venetian, a couple of miles down the Strip. Again, narrow lanes -- take the lane, even if it's the Strip. When you bike on the edge, you put yourself into a position to be struck. CyclingSavvy in Orlando explains better than anyone.



Stop 5: LaGasse's Stadium For A New Restaurant Program At Venetian

Oops, my bad! This event is next Saturday. Oh, well, I did get to pedal a few extra miles and complete an amazing bicycle day, which demonstrated how efficient, fun, healthy and money-saving using bicycles can be when running multiple errands.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Remembering Our Bicycling Brethren Tonight


Bicyclists around the world -- including 30 in Las Vegas -- pedaled Wednesday evening to remember their fellow bicyclers killed by motorists.

The annual and international Ride of Silence, a May rite, is a show of unity among bicyclists to pay homage to those bicyclists who lost their lives for the sole reason that they decided to ride a bicycle one day.

The Las Vegas Valley Bicycle Club led the way for tonight's slow eight-mile somber ride through downtown and also along Alta Drive and back to the start at the Regional Transportation Commission parking lot across from the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets.

Veteran bicyclist Jim Little offered comments about the ride's meaning, explaining that six bicyclists in Nevada were killed in the past year.


After Little explained the course. bicyclists took off. Most people pedaled road bicycles, but there were a few hybrids and mountain bikes mixed in, too.




Two Red Rock Canyon Bicycling Characters

Red Rock Canyon is a special place, a geographic gem a mere 15 miles west of the glitzy and iconic Strip.

Lots of roadies are pedaling through Red Rock, but two of my favorite bicyclists on the Red Rock Strip are a guy named John from Detroit, who will be appearing in the View newspaper and lives in the Summerlin area, and Jared Fischer, who lives in Blue Diamond and owns Las Vegas Cyclery.

There's John pedaling a heavy Schwinn mountain bike.   And let's not forget Jared, below, riding his Moots single-speed bike (when he's not on his full-suspension off-road fattie). Jared was leading his weekly Wednesday morning ride.













Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hudson Valley Bicyclists -- Ride The Stewart State Forest June 7

One of the most fascinating places to ride a bicycle in the Hudson Valley is what I remember as the Stewart Airport buffer lands west of the airport. It's now known as the Stewart State Forest.

To highlight this amazing natural resource, a local group called SPARC puts on a very cool ride to showcase the land. I recall reporting about this great ride when I worked at the Times Herald-Record newspaper in the mid-Hudson region north of New York City.



Two wonderful environmentally-minded folks -- Sandra Kissam and former Times Herald-Record environmental reporter Wayne Hall -- are spreading the word that SPARC's 16th annual Stewart State Forest Bike Tour is set for Sunday June 7. Check out the info online here

Here is Sandra's message: Our website is updated and filled with all the information you need, including the link to online registration at Active.comOur Bike Tour brochure will soon be in many local bike shops. So you may mail in your registration, if you wish. We will have a newly designed T-Shirt for your wearing pleasure.
The Stewart State Forest is as vibrant as ever and our wonderful Volunteers want you to have a great day at the Forest.Don't delay---Register right away.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tour of California's Other Tour


What a surreal bicycling experience -- Sunday morning's bike route in downtown Los Angeles is closed to cars and I'm biking with a couple hundred bicyclists like seven-foot-tall hoops star Bill Walton, the legendary Eddy Merckx, American Tour de France winner Greg LeMond and Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz.

Anschutz created an entertainment wing of his vast holdings (AEG), which includes the Amgen Tour of California -- the premier professional bicycle race in North America,

The eight-stage race ended in Pasadena today, with a Chairmen's Ride kicking off the day's festivities with a fun ride that followed the actual 15-mile stage course from LA Live in downtown Los Angeles to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It was big-time bike racing. Six or seven of the 18 teams will head to the Tour de France.

The best part was chatting with Bill Walton, the 62-year-old former UCLA basketball superstar who lives in San Diego and loves biking.

He was chatting it up with anyone pedaling a bike.

"I'm Bill," he said. "How are you?"

What a blast to pedal through the finish line.



I knew Bill from Interbike last year and even got to catch up with him at the PAC 12 basketball tournament in March..



The final stage was a festive day at the Rose Bowl parking lot, where thousands of bicyclists converged to check out the bike festival that had more juice and energy than any other of the previous race-day festivals.


In the end Slovakia's Peter Sagan won the Tour by a mere three seconds. Here's a pic of your winner.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fighting Cancer With Bicycling

What an amazing dinner program put on by AEG and the Amgen Tour de California -- which offered a platform for the likes of Eddy Merckx and Greg LeMond to talk racing but also amazing speeches from people like current bike racer Jackie Crowell, who is fighting cancer.

In fact, the whole evening was inspiring, as the Amgen Tour o California paid tribute to 10 people fighting cancer (representing the event's 10 years) while also giving an award to bike racer Crowell, who participated in Thursday's time trial at Santa Ckarita's Magic Mountain after suffering brain cancer 16 months ago.

Here's Jackie, with Justin, who came from Australia to tell his story about cancer

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After the dinner, I enjoyed getting the chance to chat briefly with LeMond, the only American to win the Tour de France,


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Visiting Old Friends In Santa Monica





That's Lucia in the top photo, the super-cute, fast-talking little girl of my former Florida Today pals Vic and Rachael, who have carved out a nice life in Santa Monica, living in a modest apartment about six blocks from the Pacific.

Vic and Rachael are those types of friends who you can pick up exactly where you left off, even if it was seven years since I saw them.

I biked from downtown Los Angeles on Olympic Blvd about 15 miles to their place, on a street lined with healthy restaurants and cute shops in Santa Monica.

I believe Lucia is three and she already knows bicycles and helmets.



On the way, I passed through Koreatown on the way to Santa Monica.



I called Vic out of the blue this morning and I'm so glad he and Rachael found time on hardly any notice to catch up.Vic works for Sony, while Rachael is doing photography for shows and filmings.

All that stuff about Santa Monica being a place of super-health conscious people who are either actors or writers is true, I passed through Santa Monica on my bike during a cross-country decades ago and it;'s amazing what you remember.

I didn't realize Santa Monica had a cliff -- the Palisades cliff -- overlooking the ocean.



The pier was packed as the mercury hit 68 degrees and it was sunny.

You may have heard of this hotel.


I made my way to a paved trail on the beach and biked a few miles south towards Venice, which is one wild beach town.








I am staying at LA Live, which will be launching point for the final day of the Amgen Tour of California on Sunday morning.