We’re here in Las Vegas this week for the bike industry’s annual tradeshow of brands, suppliers, dealers and media slime. Most of our time is spent inside a giant conference hall with confusing booth numbers and overpriced rubber sandwiches.
Blackburn Design wasn’t having any of that though. Last year they invited us on a ride down to the Hoover Dam, which is an insanely impressive piece of engineering (aside from the ecological ramifications) that is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. Anyway, Blackburn upped the ante (that’s a Las Vegas pun) and invited Bicycle Times on an overnight bike camping adventure.
We started by fueling up on some Vitamin T.
The Hoover Dam is a major source of hydroelectric power for Nevada, Arizona and California. There is quite a bit of infrastructure surrounding it.
While the dam has a road atop it, the highway now passes by on the bridge. The Black Canyon forms the border between Nevada and Arizona.
We hung out for a bit spitting off the side of the 726-foot side of the dam and taking in the scenery.
Some of the tourists were quite quizzical about our bikes.
Opened in 1936, the dam includes some beautiful art deco details including the black marble public restrooms inside the intake towers. It’s hard to imagine a government project including such nice details these days.
The water in Lake Mead also sits 50-60 feet below the historic level, creating a dramatic bathtub ring.
Back to the bike riding. This custom painted Santa Cruz belongs to one of the Blackburn employees.
We left the bridge and headed out into the desert for some backroad exploring just as the sun was setting.
The incoming thunderstorm had us dodging lightning and racing for lower ground.
Nature’s light show was pretty impressive. We rolled into camp just at dusk and set up our Big Agnes tents and polished off some sandwiches before heading to bed.
Being woken up in the middle of the night by a howling pack of coyotes was a memorable experience.
The sun soon rose above Lake Mead and I couldn’t be happier to be further away from the bright lights of Las Vegas.
Once the sun was up it was time for coffee.
Jason from Limberlost kept the caffeine flowing with hand-ground beans and pour-over brewing.
We filled our hydration bladders with filtered lake water and tried to keep our distance from the nudist kayaker guy.
Made some new friends that morning, including this guy, if you can spot him…
… and some desert bighorn sheep.
Finally it was time to load up and ride back uphill and back to reality.
Our time in the desert was just thing we need to revitalize our spirit.
- Our bikepacking bags, lights, multi-tools and other assorted items were provided by Blackburn.
- Our tents, sleeping bags and mats were from Big Agnes.
- The bike I rode was a Niner RLT.