Monday, October 02, 2006

Riding into Las Vegas

Alongside Interstate 1-15, the night in Baker, CA. high beamed its way through the motel’s dirty windows. The motel squatted across the road from the more famous “Mad Greek’s Gyros and Date Shakes!” truck stop. You can see the Mad Greek’s eponymous road signs for miles…the shakes are worth pulling over for. The gyros not so much. The Greek’s motel even less so.

Baker is an ancient travelers’ crossroad…the intersection of the old Spanish Trail, (now I-15) led through the desert to California on a dusty wagon trail (Rt. 127). Some starving 49’ers cut through Ibex Pass to save themselves from the death part of Death Valley. There must be a lot of bones out there in the desert.

Mark, my husband, had snuck out of the Mad Greek’s Motel before the sun rose at 6:00 am. His ride along 127 to Shoshone, about 50 miles could take him anywhere from 3 hours to 5, depending on how colorful and inventive his explanation was.

We’d meet up, change up and my ride would begin in Shoshone, and end about 100 miles later in Las Vegas at the Venetian Hotel.

There in the digs of the Doge’s I’d be trapped by four days and four nights of cafeteria-style food, a labyrinth lobbies, a dearth of daylight, piped in music, flickering neon. That’s Interbike.

But the road to Interbike made all the difference.

It seemed a like there was a headwind wind no matter which way the road wound. A five thousand foot climb that shimmered on the horizon of the longest and straightest riser I have ever pushed through. The monotony of the miles was broken by a motorcade of Germans rumbling past in strict formation on identical Harley rentals. I could tell they were German tourists an hour later when I stopped in Pahrump…the rental fleet were all parked in a neat row, equally spaced apart, each front tire at the same 33 degree angle, and beside them in their leather lederhosen clicked cameras and clinked bottles of America’ finest…Coor’s Light. Down the road, out of the desert now past ticky-tacky subdivisions of houses that will probably never be homes all the way to Terrible Herbst’s where the commercial sprawl of Las Vegas unofficially begins. Then, for the last 15 miles or so I snaked my way along frontage roads, and through traffic lights, keeping my eyes on the golden shimmer of the Mirage.

Dirty, sweaty, dehydrated, elated, I alighted at the Venetian’s cool cascading fountain lobby: a mountain biker.

Signing autographs, shaking hands and smiling the next day at the Clif Bar booth, my legs still felt more alive than I did.


Sasha said...

Hey Marla,
This is a shot in the dark and I wasn't sure how else I could contact you. I'm a 22 year old student and for the past 4 years I have become increasingly OBSESSED with biking.I read your book about 2 years ago and your life story has always stuck with me. At this point in my life I feel that I am at the crux of beginning of my adulthood. The truth is that my passion for biking has not gone away with time, but only moved closer to the surface of priorities in my life. Any advice on how to deal with this?

I felt connected with what you wrote about in your book: the anger and confusion with life and the liberation felt through biking. I have never raced before, but one never knows until they try. Well, maybewhat I'm looking for is encouragement from someone who made their passion for biking a reality. Do you think destiny has anything to do with it?
Sitting on the fence, how about a push Marla?

8:33 AM  
Jack said...

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for these little glimpses into your life. You do such a great job of taking us there to the moment that in just that quick little blurb I was right there with you no the ride. I know that highway well and applaud you for riding it. I used to ride all the time but twin 5 year old daughters a son on the way, on-line college 50 hours of work leaves little time for riding. Each time I read on of your little pieces I want to get out and ride. Maybe I'll grab the 'ol Bullit and hit my 25 minute loop...I mean who needs to do homeowork right!?

2:56 PM  
ed said...


I liked the part about the bikers... hope kidlin good...

While making the XC transfer something was expressed about more control with a shorter stem. Long sweeping seated corners are the only place I know where washout encourages a longer stem.

Perhaps touch on this percieved quest for XC speed on a downhill stem. What are you running for XC these days... 90mm?



10:44 PM  
Monks said...

You would probably get a kick out of doing this. Tag, you're it!

I am not spamming and I am not looking to get links, just a new internet style chain letter; we'll be sick of these in a year so just like we are those stupid email forwards we get all day long but I think you should do this one and ignore the rest :-)

6:47 PM  
Dirty Bert said...

Dirty, sweaty, dehydrated and elated sounds like a typical night with me.

Marla, you ever come to Diablo Domination DH Series in warm ol' NJ?

~dirty bert

8:03 PM  
Squirrel said...

Ok Marla I haven't bugged you for about a shot of your are some I have so far...Cycling Tattoo Gallery I know your busy so I'll just keep pokeing til I get it:)


9:25 AM  

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