Stuck in a loop - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

December 12, 2020

Stuck in a loop

We had a couple of other candidate rides scoped out using Boulder City as a base, but they involve enough driving that neither sounds appealing this morning.  We’ve had our fill of car time, and besides that it’s cold and windy today.  We don’t really want to load our bikes into the car, drive thirty miles, and then find that it feels too chilly to bike much anyway.  Nothing sounds better than biking the loop again, so we decide to do that.

We also decide though that once more is enough for now.  Our next base is Tucson, a seven hour drive away, where we have a two week Airbnb reservation starting Monday night.  Breaking the drive in two with an overnight somewhere in the middle sounds like a better plan.  And besides, we’ve run out of options for take-out meals here that sound appealing to us.  Tomorrow looks even colder than today here, so we might as well drive.

We decide to ride on our own today.  Rachael chooses to repeat the first ride we took here, an out and back up the west side of the loop and along the wetlands connector.  It won’t surprise you to hear that her ride is a 42 miler.  So predictable!  She enjoyed her ride, found it easier this time, and enjoyed a conversation with another older cyclist on a break along the road.  She also reports that she saw a roadrunner (!).  Lucky for her, but annoying to me because I didn’t see it myself.  She’s not that up on birds anyway, and is probably wrong - it was probably just another mockingbird, which is so similar.

I’m not sure what I want to do, but I decide to loaf around for another hour to let the day warm up a bit longer.  Finally, I decide to bike the complete loop counterclockwise, and see those few miles on the north side we missed by biking it in two halves that didn’t quite connect.  I leave Rachael an email revealing my plan so she’ll know when to expect me back.

But then it occurs to me that she has the spare tube.  I haven’t had a flat in a thousand miles, but today could be the day.  I decide to take a hike up in Boxcar Canyon instead.  I map out a hiking route on RideWithGPS, send Rachael that plan instead, and delete the first email so she won’t be confused.

Fifteen minutes later I’m packed and dressed up for a hike.  I walk out to the car, but change my mind again.  My back is a bit achy still, and it feels great out - warmer than I expected, not windy, it feels like a perfect day to be on the bike.  I feel luckier suddenly (warm sun will do that to you) and decide to take my chances on avoiding a flat.  By the time I cross paths with Rocky she’ll be well on the way home again anyway, so I’ll just grab the tube from her to cut down the risk.

Back to the room for one more gear, clothing and email shuffle.  Finally, at 12:15 by now, I’m out the door with the bike.  I’ve only got about four riding hours left now before sundown, so I’ll have to make good time.  I start to mount the Garmin on the bike, but discover that I’ve left the mount in the room - I’d taken it off because I didn’t want to carry it along on the hike.

I turn to open the door, reach for my wallet to get the key, but discover I don’t have that with me either.  It’s inside, in the pants I was going to hike in.  I could go get another key from the front office, but it’s getting late.  I’ll just carry the Garmin in my pocket, and trust that I don’t have an accident and get discovered unconscious on the loop with no ID on my person.

Not the most promising prelude to a ride, really.  It all works fine though.  I have a great outing - I really could ride this loop once a week.  I don’t flatten, and Rachael doesn’t flatten either after handing over her tube to me when we rendezvous; I don’t have an accident; it’s not too cold and windy; and I make it back to the apartment by sundown, with easily five minutes to spare. 

Very nice, but five nights is enough.  Time to move on.

Black Mountain, near the start of the loop. Boxcar Canyon runs up the gap behind those hills in front. If we come back someday, we should take a hike in there.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Here comes the supply wagon. She’s much closer to the end of her ride than I am, so I relieve her of her spare tube en passant.
Heart 2 Comment 0
I was trying to identify this formation, and learned something new. The loop is called the River Mountains Loop Trail because the formation it encircles is the River Mountains. All this time I thought it was because it went past mountains and a river, and wondered why it wasn’t called the River and Mountains Loop (better grammatically) or even Lake and Mountains Loop (more accurately) instead.
Heart 2 Comment 1
Bruce LellmanI grew up in a house overlooking Forest Lake. Who named these things anyway!!?
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1 month ago
Some sort of quarry apparently, near Lake Las Vegas.
Heart 1 Comment 0
It’s another gall! Until recently I only knew of oak galls, but new ones keep showing up. This is a creosote gall, produced in response to the creosote gall midge.
Heart 2 Comment 0
I was pleased with myself at the time for recognizing this as an acacia; but I think I was wrong. A mimosa or mesquite?
Heart 1 Comment 1
Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like mesquite.

https://wildflowersearch.org/search?oldstate=gmc%3A36.031%2C-114.794%3Bcat%3AB%3Blocation%3ABoulder+City%2C+NV+89005%2C+USA%3Belev%3A1288%3Bgms%3A16%3B&buttonName=none&hab=&Elev=&Submit=Submit+Values&PlantName=mesquite
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1 month ago
Descending toward the eastern end of Las Vegas Wash.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Black Mesa? I think so, but don’t quote me.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Rocky’s not along, so I recruited a different cyclist for perspective.
Heart 1 Comment 0
On the River Mountains Loop Trail. I think this part of the loop, near the north end of Lake Mead, is the most scenic.
Heart 2 Comment 0
On the River Mountains Loop Trail.
Heart 1 Comment 0
One of my goals is to return from the southwest this time knowing a few more plants than creosote, saguaro, ocotillo and cholla. I think this is desert holly (Atriplex hymenelytra). Its light colored leaves are produced by salt in the plant, are an adaptation to reflect sunlight and reduce its need for water. Smart thinking, plant!
Heart 2 Comment 1
I’m glad to be riding this part of the loop toward the end of the day. The cloud and shadow patterns are interesting.
Heart 1 Comment 0
I’ve identified my plant for the day. We’ll leave this for someone else to do the research on, if they’re so inclined.
Heart 1 Comment 4
Bill ShaneyfeltOne of the 4 species of Ephedra (Mormon tea) found in the area.

https://wildflowersearch.org/search?oldstate=gms%3A12%3Bgmc%3A36.144%2C-114.841%3Blocation%3ABoulder+City%2C+NV+89005%2C+USA%3Belev%3A1268%3Bcat%3AS%3B&buttonName=none&hab=&Elev=&Submit=Submit+Values&PlantName=ephed
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1 month ago
Bill ShaneyfeltBut the flowers are of some milkweed species, possibly whitestem milkweed.

https://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/taxa/index.php?taxon=3755
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltOh, good catch. Two different plants. I hadn’t noticed.
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1 month ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Scott AndersonI never thought about the difference till I looked it up this time.

They sure are a lot alike! Wood is dense in both as well.

Then again, they are both in family Fabaceae, so I guess it might be expected
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1 month ago
Southbound along the loop, flying with the wind, enjoying a nice view of the southern end of Lake Mead. Very, very nice.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Looking across Lake Mead Village.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Creosote bands. I love riding late in the afternoon.
Heart 2 Comment 0
The Boulder Islands, nicely illuminated by the late day sun.
Heart 1 Comment 0
The view south.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Well, I timed this ride to perfection. It’s sundown, and I’m three blocks from home.
Heart 2 Comment 0

Ride stats today: 42 miles, 3,400’ (Rachael), 37 miles, 3,100’ (Scott); for the tour: 759 miles, 30,600’

Today's ride: 42 miles (68 km)
Total: 757 miles (1,218 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 9
Comment on this entry Comment 3
Jacquie GaudetTime to get a second tube, maybe? Just curious, though...did you both have the means to actually install and inflate the tube if needed? Or does all the flat-repair stuff travel together? We each carry our own and indeed, the last time I had a flat while riding "with" Al, I had the new tube in and pretty well inflated by the time he noticed and came back to me. And I'm not exactly fast at it.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanGreat photos once again!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetI’m pretty sure we have a second unused tube with us, but I couldn’t remember where it we packed it away. Also we have the one with the nail puncture in it, which I’ll patch sometime - probably once it’s our last usable one.

Rachael should carry her own kit, but it’s been years since she changed a tire on her own. Offhand, the only time we recall for sure was in Damariscotta, Maine, on our first anniversary ride in 1989. Good thing we ride Schwalbe Marathons!
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1 month ago