Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Afternoon Ride

Took the afternoon off yesterday and decided to ride on a trail near Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. Its called the Railroad Tunnels Trail. For the first half it follows the old railroad bed where the tracks for transporting the materials to construct the dam once laid. Along the way they carved 5 tunnels through the rock to facilitate the journey – hence the name.

The temps were in the low 50’s with a very light wind and lots of sunshine – a gorgeous day to ride, if a bit cool in the shade.

I have to say I really enjoyed this ride. It had a very different flavor from my early morning rides which are mostly about getting in the miles as quickly as I can and then getting home to get ready for work. This was a pleasant roll along a fairly smooth gravel trail with some gorgeous views of Lake Mead and the surrounding mountains. Add to that the bonus of actually going through tunnels carved through the mountainsides and it was truly a lot of fun. There was, however one disappointment for the ride – you can’t actually ride to the dam along the trail. It ends at a series of steps and from the top, you cannot see the dam.

I have ridden part of the trail in the past with my grandson, Jacob, but we only made it about halfway – just past the third tunnel. What was interesting is that beyond the fifth tunnel, the trail leaves the gentle, fairly flat railroad bed and takes a fairly dramatic descent to the steps area. I didn’t realize how dramatic until I got to the bottom and then had to ride back up. The total elevation change was 586 feet according to my garmin, but it was the unexpected nature of it that caught me off guard.

This ride reminded me what it is I enjoy about riding my bike – getting out and seeing things and covering distances much easier than walking. Was I fast – definitely not. With all my stopping to look and talk to hikers along the trail, plus taking pictures of the big horn sheep, it took 72 minutes to cover the 7.22 miles I rode. A short ride by a lot of standards, but a huge one in my book as it helped to rekindle my fire for and love of riding.

Also received a delivery last night via UPS. It is an exercise bike so that I can keep up with my riding in the colder weather. Sure, I know its not that bad, being only in the 30’s, but I find myself using that as an excuse for not riding. This removes the weather as an excuse. It also allows my to jump on and do 15 or 20 minutes several times a day if I want to. I have big plans for improving my stamina and strength using this new equipment.