Rough First Week


Coming off the plane, we headed to the baggage claim area using the airport skytrain but we took the wrong skytrain. We blamed the bad signage from the airport not clearly indicating where we needed to go. We arrived at the wrong terminal and were directed by an airport employee to jump on a bus going to terminal 3, where our bags would be. The bus had passengers in the same situation as us. The first moment of panic occurred when arriving at the belt; Tiph’s bike didn’t come out. Again, I reached out to an airport staff member who confirmed she didn’t see 2 boxes, only hard cases for triathlon bikes. There must have been a race soon, many triathletes were present. We were in one of the busiest airports, yet there wasn’t an oversize luggage area. All bags, regardless of their size, are coming off the same place including our bikes in large boxes. I was directed to a small office where they could help. We were tired and Tiphaine started panicking. These scenarios are never fun and I understood her. After numerous calls on his CB radio and his mobile, the luggage attendant confirmed the box came out the airplane and was certain it was stuck on the belt somewhere. After a solid 15 minutes wait, the box finally came out from the belt to our relief. The boxes were a little broken down, but everything was in good shape.

We spent two full days in Las Vegas to re-assemble the bikes, do groceries and of course visit the strip and casinos, we finally gave our first stokes with our loaded bikes. Exiting Vegas was surprisingly easy. We came by another Welcome to Las Vegas sign and took a quick selfie since, the day before, we didn’t make it in time before sunset to the other most popular sign, where all tourists are going to take their famous photo. We finally arrived at Clark County Wetlands Park where we took a quiet and scenic cycle path in the dry land. The temperature was already soaring on this 3rd of May. Looking at Google maps, we had to follow a track along the park to get to the road leading to Hoover Dam. It quickly degraded to sand and then naturally formed ditches so steep we had to push our bikes up. We finally came out of that dreadful track to climb hills that seemed to never finish.

We opted for this road to get to a bike shop to fix 2 things on our bikes; my middle chainring on my front platter and Tiph’s gears seemed to jump. At first sight, the bike wasn’t promising. It even seemed empty and closed. We opened the front door to be greeted by a New Zealander working at the small bike shop. He happily fixed Tiph’s issues and confirmed my chainring needed to be replaced but didn’t have any in stock. This means I can no longer use my middle platter which is bad news since it is usually used 60-70% of my riding. I’ll have to endure until Los Angeles. The mechanic also suggested us to take the bike path leading to the main road to Hoover Dam. Amazing scenery and totally isolated from the road. We took a good break at the shop under the shade before looking for a camp. We settled on the flat ground overlooking the sharp orange and brown mountain ranges everywhere around us.

The next day started with a helicopter rescue. Fortunately, that wasn’t for us but for someone who needed airlifting following what we assumed was a crash on the bike path. We couldn’t see very well. Most of the morning was spent on a nice cycle path but never flat. We always found ourselves going up or down, but mostly up. We followed lake Mead until we got to an RV park where facilities there allowed us to relax and clean up a little. We had a discussion with a man organizing a BBQ party for his son. While waiting he explained how he would like to start a marijuana business while he received a call to inform him that his brother got shot the night before in one of Las Vegas suburbs. We got on the main road leading to Hoover Dam which turned out to be a massive tourist attraction. We camped just past the dam after taking a blocked and restricted road. Again, a day filled with climbs under a hot sun. leaned my bike on the click stand as I always did but this time the angle wasn’t quite right and it band, letting my bike go down. Nothing happened to my bike, but now my click stand is ruined. Not long after, I tried to open one of my front panniers and struggled with a clip. I saw it was broken, probably due to normal usage and not the bike crashing earlier. This added to the frustrations.

On our third day on the road, we woke up earlier to get passed those mountains facing us. After a breakfast of oats and nuts, we spent the entire morning climbing either on false flat or serious and long climbs. The road was pretty busy with non-stop cars, trucks and buses. I worried about not having enough water. We were almost empty when we reached a popular viewpoint where tourists are stopping to enjoy the beautiful views. We got lucky there as we were given 2 liters of water. Back on the road, we continued climbing until we finally reached the point where we finally started going down. Chance not being on our side, the wind picked up and blew straight in our faces. We needed to pedal to keep our momentum. On the flat ground, we struggled to reach maintain 10 km/h. The wind was blowing at 25 km/h, sometimes reaching 50 km/h. By the time we got to the Last Stop shop I was dizzy and we both had empty water bottles. It was about time we reached this place. I went straight for the restrooms where I gulped down water directly from the tap, splashing my face under the astonishment of those coming to wash their hands. I didn’t care. We had a disappointing burger for lunch and decided to spend the afternoon at the back of the building where picnic tables were installed for the tourists coming to shoot machine guns in bunkers installed for that purpose. Either that or drive a small off-road 4 wheel vehicle on a dirt circuit. Many tours seemed to stop by to shoot machine guns and eat burgers. Right across to road was an abandoned building where we settled for the night. We topped our water bottles at Last Stop and pitched our tent at the back of the abandoned building. We were spent.

We started the 4th day rolling on the wide shoulder of road 93, but soon we came by road construction and the shoulder disappeared. Cars passing by at over 100km/h is not ideal, so we got on side of the road where road construction trucks have passed and made a path on dirt along the road. It got difficult to move forward as the dirt was very hard and sometimes turned to sand. Tiphaine crashed on the sand twice. We decided to get back on the tarmac and pray. Headwinds were picking by then and we barely reached 10 km/h. We saw a fellow cyclist flying by in the opposite direction. He seemed to be having fun. We weren’t and by the time a bus overtook us by about a meter, we decided to leave that road. The only problem was that we had another 5-6 km to do before reaching a secondary road but eventually made it. After taking a good break at the Chevron petrol station beside the dog’s poo disposal, we were two happy cyclists rolling on a quiet road despite going uphill for several kilometers. That road was a detour, but much worth it. For the first time, we rode with the wind pushing us, sometimes even on long descents! Until we got to an intersection where we needed to go south again, into the wind. We found a secluded spot for camp and put the alarm for 5h15 for the following morning to get on the road earlier when the wind was low. We had dinner, made a small fire and watch the stars until our eyes closed.

The start of the fifth day was a bit chilly but was a bliss. Almost no wind, stunning views our the mountains all around us and no traffic. We still faced a demanding climb with the wind blowing in our face, but we knew we were going to reach Kingman that day, regardless of how long it would take. So we pace ourselves, took many breaks and enjoyed the scenery. We descended into Kingman with wide smiles on our faces and decided we deserved a reward; a McFlurry while we used the free internet. We settled in the Travelodge for two nights, giving ourselves a day off to recover after this pretty tough start.

Author: Pascal Lachance

I'm Pascal, cyclist, travel lover, software developer by trade and an enthusiastic photographer. I'm now cycling around the world, take the time to visit as many places as I can!