September 5, 2011
Viva Las Vegas
We didn’t place any bets in Vegas but the odds were definitely stacked in our favour.
Let me explain.
The day we rode through Death Valley National Park we woke up at 4am. We woke up in our second hotel room of the trip and Jude, the motel manager, had set the coffee machine on timer so we were fed, watered, caffeinated and on the road by 5am. The motel was in a place called Olancha just outside the park so were set to see the sights before it got too hot.
The park itself? Well, I don’t think either of us will ever be at home in a desert; the beauty is harsh, magnificent and other-worldly and, being in a place where a person’s ability to survive is so limited is scary – no other world for it. It was hard to associate much, if any, of it with the planet I live on.
We stopped for breakfast (yes, another one!) in Beatty in a great little diner, filled up our camel packs and headed towards our agreed destination for the day. We anticipated arrival in Indian Springs at 11am and the plan was to hide in a motel with airconn.
We stopped for fuel in Indian Springs pretty much on time. We found a bench in the only shade for miles and toasted a well executed plan with some ice cold Pepsi and ice water. Nick had one of his enviable power kips and we were both feeling like we had survived, maybe even conquered, a new planet!
“Shall we carry on?”
“Well, we could ride down the strip, that might be cool?”
We managed to get to the outskirts of Las Vegas, pull into the car park of a strip mall and collapse in the nearest shade!
To say it was hot would be a gross understatement of one of the most uncomfortable journeys we had had until that point. (Yes, that includes freezing on the Dalton Highway). Riding a motorbike in anything over 35C is silly; when it gets over 40 you need your head read!
After we had recovered slightly (about an hour later) we braved the sun to cross the car park to Starbucks. A couple of hours of airconn and some Internet time later I suggested to Nick that we sit outside in the shade and start to acclimatise. “We can’t sleep here.”
And so we sat. Barely able to breathe in a hot wind that felt like a reasonable strength hand-dryer. We sat and we pretended we weren’t both quite concerned about how we were going to complete the next steps.
“Where are you riding to?” – said a man whom we had clocked looking at the bike as he pulled up in his car.
“Top to the bottom of the world”
“Can I pitch you a road?”
“Yes. Take a seat.”
Mike pitched us a route and invited us to his house.
“You may as well shower and sit in the airconn – you can leave later as it gets a little cooler, or you can stay the night and leave in the morning, we have room.”
During our chat it had transpired that Mike had a few bikes and had done our journey and many others, more than once.
Shower, pool, pizza, chat, info, maps, sleep and an early departure set us up very well for the next few days. Turns out Mike is president of Iron Butt. I discovered this while chatting to his wife who coped extremely well with the invasion of hot and sweaty biker types. Many many thanks to the Kneebone family, and their neighbours for all their hospitality and company.
Despite adding some miles into our original plan we had no choice but to follow his recommendation, did we?
Did we win in Vegas?