Historic Railroad Trail

This Nevada trail runs from the Lake Mead Visitor center to the Hoover Dam visitor center. It follows the route of a railroad built specifically to haul supplies to the Hoover Dam construction site as it was being built. The trail has several nice overlooks to view Lake Mead and it has five tunnels. The hard pack gravel surface is an easy ride. Its short 3.7 mile length does not seem attractive to biking but the historic value along with a connection to the much longer Mountain Loop Trail can make for a very enjoyable visit. One cautionary note, this is in a desert region. I would avoid this in the summer. It can get very hot. No matter when you go be sure to bring plenty of water.

Learn more about the trail here: https://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/hikerr.htm

See a video of my ride here: https://youtu.be/W75wzXbOY8I 

Death Valley

Death Valley is part of the Mojave Desert in eastern California. In summer it is one of the hottest places on Earth. In May of 2018 I did an organized bike tour of Death Valley with Bicycle Adventures. I flew into Las Vegas a couple of days before the tour to get acclimated to the heat. While in Las Vegas I rented a bike and rode the Historic Railroad Trail. This former railroad was built to haul materials used in the construction of Hoover Dam.

The Death Valley tour started in the abandoned town of  Rhyolite, NV.  This town started as a two tent gold mining camp. Within months it had restaurants, saloons, barber shops and even its own weekly newspaper. The town was mostly shut down by 1914 when the power company shut off electricity to the town. The scarcity of building materials resulted in many of the buildings in town being relocated to other nearby towns. This lack of materials also led Tom Kelly to build his house from bottles. This bottle house still stands today.

In 1984 artist Albert Szukalski created the Last Supper sculpture that became known as the Goldwell Open Air Museum at the entrance to the remnants of Rhyolite. Our route then led us into Death Valley National Park. Death Valley is below sea level in many places so the ride was a fun decent into the valley. The entire tour was cycling on public roads but there was very few cars. 
Riding in places like the Devil's Golf Course, Ubehebe Crater and Zibriskie Point was amazing. The landscapes are unique and beautiful. 

A couple of days into the tour I got up to refreshing, cool temperatures. Overnight it had cooled to 100F. Yes it was very hot. As is sure to be pointed out it was a dry heat. You still perspire but it immediately evaporates. Our support van, driven by our guide would stop every few miles where we were able to refill our water bottles. If you are like me, imagine the most water you ever drank on a ride. I was drinking double and sometimes triple that.

I wore sandles to try to keep my feet from getting too hot but also wore socks for UV protection. I also used a DaBrim on my helmet to somewhat shade my face. We started in the early morning before the hottest part of the day.

One of the most memorable experiences was riding up to the visitor's center. An entire bus load of tourists all started taking my picture. I didn't understand their language but I am sure they were saying look at this crazy guy riding a bike in this heat. The large thermometer in front of the building indicated 116F at the time.

I am sure I will remember this ride for the rest of my life.

Watch a video on Mark's Bike Tock YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/H7zTpSzOqtk