The Block Bicycle Shop 661.729.2800
604 W. Ave L unit 101
Lancaster, CA 93534
Here is a brief pictorial of my 13 day, 1161 mile Las Vegas trip to Interbike. I had an amazing time and was surrounded by amazing people! I have spent a lifetime on bicycles and this trip was for me to get inside my head and realize how good that I have it. I did this ride because I could. This year in particular I feel blessed to have the ability and health to take on challenges that I enjoy. I have had a number of friends die this year and an even larger number of friends who have terminal cancer and other life threatening circumstances. These things are on my mind constantly and all I can do is hope, pray and lead by inspiration and perspiration.
Last year I was invited by Specialized to do a similar ride from Morgan Hill, Ca to Las Vegas for Komen Ride For the Cure. It was a cancer awareness ride that Specialized raised a ton of money for the Komen Foundation. This year I was not invited but I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity for another adventure.
The Gear! All I needed to carry for the ride. I shipped a box of street clothes and my computer to Eric’s in Jamestown for day 4 and then forwarded it to Vegas. Frank brought it all home for me. I had more electronics than clothing. Not pictured: bibs, jersey, socks, helmet, gloves and glasses as they were being worn. 2 additional store bought SmartWater bottles were used in the long stretches and fit in the side compartments of the bag.
The Rig! My departure. Bag sitting on seat. All you need to complete a couple weeks of riding!
First stop Tehachapi. Tried to call Nasty (Cory Nastazio) for lunch but he never answers his phone.
Big first day 102 miles & 7500 feet of climbing. Hot out all day - happy to make it to Lake Isabella. Was scared because there was a big fire just to the northwest of Isabella as I was coming into town and didn’t know if the road was going to be open. Saw tons of smoke and flames but was able to continue and Lake Isabella. It was clear as the winds were blowing in the opposite direction. This tank was my welcome to Lake Isabella and the local kids jungle gym.
Day 2 was big! Lake Isabella to Fresno. 158 miles took more than 10 hours and burned over 10,000 calories. First climb of the day was 8 miles long with 3500’ of gain. It was over an hour of 14% average grade. The short 8% grade sections felt like recovery zones. Dropped down the hill to Porterville and got breakfast. I did the first 60 miles without eating anything - kinda dumb. Left Porterville with slight headwind but flat all the way to Visalia. In Visalia I checked out the local BMX track. It was in one of the best city park layouts that I have ever seen. Then headed through Sanger and arrived in Fresno right at dusk.
The next morning was a big ride as well. 122 miles with 8500feet of climbing for a total of eight and a half hours of saddle time. I was looking forward to seeing my old riding buddy, Eric Prothro and checking out his local roads in Copperopolis. This was one of the many valleys that I road through on the way and can understand why he loves his new stomping grounds. Cars on this whole trip were courteous and never had an confrontation. Easy to have big days when this is the scenery that you get to ride in.
The following day Eric took me for a ride up to Spicer Reservoir. It was just amazing, a perfect riding day. The scenery of the northwest side of Yosemite is unreal, totally untouched. We had a great ride and got to talk like we used to. Eric used to help me with business strategy on our morning rides when I first opened the shop. It was priceless knowledge and I really miss those days.
When I met Eric Prothro he was a passionate mountain bike rider. Early in his mtb career he crashed hard and had a bad head injury shattering his helmet. That helmet had kept him alive for sure. After months of rehab he finally got his senses back to normal and was able to return to work and eventually back to mountain bike riding. I rode a number of times up on the ridge before work with him before convincing him he needs to ride road to enhance his mountain fitness. He purchased and Orbea Orca from us and our first morning ride was over 50 miles. He had no idea what was in store. To make a long story short, Eric rides road bikes in the mountains around his house at least four times a week. I saw his Turner mountain bike in the garage covered with dust and flat tires. When I asked him the last time he rode it his reply was: “I really need to get back on that thing”…
The Mayor of Copperopolis!!!
After spending 36 hours with Eric it was back to the solo mission. The following day was the biggest - Copperopolis to June Lake via Yosemite. I wasn’t scared - but I was concerned. Basically it was all day climbing with one good fast descent - Tioga Pass. I was on the road pedaling by 7:00am and stopped a couple of hours later at the top of Priest Grade for breakfast in Groveland. Priest Grade was a good one to start the day off. It one of Eric’s regular rides and was 8% to 10% grade for an hour. After breakfast it was good steady 3% to 6% grades the rest of the day. This was manageable but made average speed pretty slow. For this section I had a couple of extra water bottles and with all of my gear it was about 20 extra pounds. This makes a huge difference climbing. I would guess it cost about 2mph average for the course of the day. That turns out to be about 20 miles and an extra hour of riding when all is said and done verses not carrying anything . The day was 139 miles with 15,800’ of climbing and my Garmin read over 12,000 calories burned when I hit June Lake. The restaurants were downtown but my motel was a couple of miles down the valley so I ate a huge spaghetti dinner still in my kit then headed to my room in the dark and cold. Good thing I had my taillight, even if I couldn’t see what was 10’ ahead of me… I hit a couple of sections that had to be down in the 30s and was freezing when I got to my room. Crazy how much of a temperature difference 100 miles and 8,000 feet can change. It was the only time I was cold the entire trip.
When I hit the summit of Tioga Pass I was pretty stoked. Hit 61mph on the way down and was happy to not have to pedal for a little while. It was pretty short lived as I hit good solid headwinds on the 395 all the way to June Lake.
I woke the next morning feeling pretty good and was stoked to have my easiest day of the trip. Only 120 miles form June Lake to Lone Pine. Last year we did 100 miles from Mammoth to Lone Pine in 3 hours and 47 minutes and had an average speed just under 30mph. It was mostly all down hill and we had a significant tailwind from Bishop to Lone Pine. The sierra are amazing in the morning and none of my pictures can do any of my views any justice.
I had forgot that there were a number of climbs from June Lake to Mammoth and I didn’t expect a headwind. Last year it was the easiest day. I got to the Sherwin Summit and was psyched that I would have about a 10 mile section of about 50mph average. As I pedaled down to Bishop in the 30s I realized that the day was not going to mirror last year. In fact it was nothing like last year at all.
I got down to Bishop and visited one of my oldest and best friends - Insane Wayne Croasdale. He had bike shops in the AV while we were growing up. Bicycle Radness was our hangout and Wayne was an Icon. He was on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine at the peak of mountain biking in the 90s. He won the Kamikaze Downhill in Mammoth and was one of the most legendary downhill racers of all time. His personality is unmatched! He has a lot to do with the person that I have become. Funny story. Around 1995 I had played roller hockey for a couple of years as my passion and didn’t do too much riding. We were making Wayne’s downhill uniforms at Block Alternatives and one day he came in and gave me a brand new mountain bike. This was a Friday and I hadn’t ridden for a while. He said we were going riding the following day. Now understand, Wayne was a top pro and my fitness had only been from roller skating sprints playing hockey. He picked me up and drove us to Valyermo. We rode up to Mountain High, the summit above Wrightwood, down to the city of Wrightwood where we ate lunch, back to the top of Mountain High and down Pinion Ridge to Valyermo. It was a monster day for me. It was well over 60 miles and an extreme amount of elevation gain. It was a turning point in my life. I had been watching the Eco Challenge for years and had so much respect for the endurance racers. Who would have ever thought that one single day, that one event, would chance my life! I never stopped riding since that day. It launched me to finish 2 Eco Challenge (New Zealand & Fiji) and a Raid Gauloises (Vietnam) and a ton of 24 hour mtb races, multi day adventure races 100 mile mtb races and solo missions like I was currently on. To say Wayne was an influence is a total understatement.
Wayne and his wife Brenda fixed me lunch. We ate and talked for a couple of hours and then it was off to Lone Pine. I turned the corner to downtown Bishop and realized my day was about to get really tough. It took the next four and a half hours to reach Lone Pine about 65 miles away. That was an hour longer than it took to do 100 miles on the same roads a year before. I was demoralized and would have to say it was the toughest day of the entire trip. Funny how fast things can flip on you. Here I was expecting a recovery day and instead got murdered. I finally arrived in Lone Pine right at dusk and ate at the We Toss Em They’re Awesome. Then I washed my clothes and was out. I woke up the next morning feeling pretty good. This next day: Lone Pine to Death Valley. I was pretty concerned as there are so few places to get water. Again I carried and extra 2 liters and was off. Last year I drank 8 bottles in the last hour and a half rolling into Death Valley - it was 116 degrees. This year was not to bad plus it was just over 100 miles It ended up being a pretty solid day and I had exactly the right amount of water. I ran out right as I pulled into Furnace Creek. It was only about 106 and that made a huge difference. I made good time and had 6 hours to eat and just kick back before I went to sleep. The worst part was I had no service to the internet. I finally had time to communicate but now way of doing so. It figures…
The last big day before Vegas! I woke up feeling good and the weather was beautiful. I ate breakfast early and headed out right at sunrise to beat the heat out of the valley.
I knew this was going to be a long day. I was meeting April in Vegas this evening and was pretty excited as she had gone to China a week before I left and I hadn’t seen her for what seemed like forever. I climbed out of Death Valley in some of the most scenic and beautiful views that I have ever seen. The desert is majestic and again the pictures can not do it justice.
I kept stopping to shoot photos because I was just in love with the scenery.
This one one of the best days of the trip for scenery.
Just before I got to Pahrump I broke a spoke. My wheel had about an inch wobble but it wasn’t hitting the frame, just the brakes. I disconnected the back brake, had clearance, and was off. I figured I’d hit a bike shop in Pahrump. I had about 15 miles to go. Then 5 miles later I broke another spoke. I taped them out of the way and continued. No one in Pahrump knew of a bike shop. I mush have asked 10 locals. I called April and she went online and looked up a shop, the only shop. She called, and get this, they were closed all this week for Interbike. Closed for 5 days. Not a single bike shop till Vegas. I asked April to bring me a spare wheel to the hotel. I was pissed off and frustrated about the bike shop situation but I used that as an I’ll show you… I went to Napa Auto Parts and bought a 4” crescent wrench for $25 and did a primitive man wheel true. I got the wobble down to half an inch and was off. I just had to make 60 miles to Vegas and everything is cool. Then I get a call from Gary Laurent who lives in Vegas. He asks me what I needed and if I wanted him to come pick me up. April had send out a distress signal and it is times like this that you really realize who your friends are. I was kinda embarrassed and told him I was fine but I would call him if I needed anything. I never worry about anything, or think the worst, just deal with a problem head on when the time comes. April is the opposite. The funny thing is she would actually be the first call I made no matter where I was…
I climbed out of Pahrump and realized that I had a little tailwind. It is a steady climb and not much to look at. I got through it pretty efficiently. Last year we had a deadline to make Vegas by 2:00pm and three of us hammered this last day. With 3 off us I actually sat on the back in the draft holding on for dear life as the headwind was miserable. That was all I could think of as I approached this section. It turned out to be manageable this year but I was still happy when I hit the summit and it was downhill to Vegas. I hit well over 50 with the wobbly wheel on the way down, all the time thinking: I’ll show you…
As I entered Vegas I called Cesar Flores who is one of TJ Lavin’s best friends. TJ brought Czr up to Block Jam and we have been good friends ever since. He lived a mile off the road so I stopped by his place to say hi.
Turned the corner at the bottom of Blue Diamond onto Las Vegas Blvd & was stoked!!! Vegas - check! 144 miles all behind me!
Hit the strip all smiles! Harrah’s bound!
April & I went to Blue Man Group and sat in the second row. It was a really good time!
Corky Gainsford was a top factory BMX kid from Vegas in the 80s - now he is a drummer for Blue Man Group.
You can tell he loves his job, the show is really good!
Then it was off to NORA Cup (Number One Rider Award). I was asked to be the presenter for BMX Dirt Jumper.
This was my view from the stage. BMX Dirt was the last award and when I announced Chris Doyle his fans mobbed the stage. It got a little chaotic! I love BMX!…
I was way more tired from walking around Interbike and just Vegas in general than I was from any part of the ride. Walking just sucks. I can ride all day long with way less effort than being on my feet for the day.
Left Vegas at about 6:00pm on Las Vegas Blvd. Rode it until it ended, then jumped up on the 15 a few miles before Primm on Friday night.
Got food and water at State Line. Then back on the 15 headed for Baker.
Did not have any problems with my bike the entire trip except for the spokes. About 20 miles before Baker I got a slow leak from hitting a wire staple. I just pumped it up 2 different times and limped into Baker. I didn’t feel like working on my bike at midnight on Interstate 15. Rolled into Baker just after midnight and it was still 86 degrees out.
I had booked my rooms before the trip and had read all of the nightmarish tales from Baker. They must have been written by 5 star Vegas hotel people. I stayed at Wills Fargo which didn’t have very many good testimonials. But for a motel in Baker it pas perfect for me. I was really expecting it to be horrible. So in exchange I had a horrible breakfast buffet at Bun Boy. Then back to the I-15.
Put in about 120 total miles on the 15 from Vegas to Barstow. It is the only way to pass through that valley. It is one of the safest roads as it has a foot wide rumble strip and an 8 to 10 foot well paved shoulder to ride on. Didn’t have one single motorist issue the entire trip.
You can make fun of me for living in Lancaster. I don’t live in Barstow…
Left Barstow on Route 66. Not much to say. There was a cool gumball rally happening with vintage motorcycles that would pass one by one for a period of about an hour. Should have shot some photos. These bike and self mug shots are getting old.
Ate lunch in Silver Lakes and headed west toward home. Only 70 miles of desert left!
The most direct route is Shadow Mountain Road. It turns into Ave G. It has a 13 mile dirt section. It was my favorite riding of the entire trip. Maybe it’s because I save an additional 20 miles. Maybe it’s because I was almost home!
Kind of ironic…
Finished the dirt section. Only 40 miles to go and had a light tailwind!!!
My stomping grounds!
Arrived home right at dark. Pretty big last day 144 miles in 8.5 hours & 10,000 calories!
The best part of doing a big adventure is coming home!!!