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Saturday, October 15: ALC 2017 Las Vegas kickoff ride, 23-34 miles

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ALC 2017 Las Vegas kickoff ride (10/15/2016)

Date: Saturday, October 15
Meet time: 8:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 8:30 a.m.
Meeting place: McGhie's, 4035 S. Fort Apache Rd. (map)
City: Las Vegas, Nevada
Rain policy: Rain cancels; make-up date is October 16
Pace: 2 - medium pace (10-12mph)
Terrain: 2 or 3 - rolling hills with some steep climbs
Miles: 23 or 34

Let's ride! The ALC 2017 training season is officially underway. And we start our season in Las Vegas with a classic route ... and with two options, one with a bit of climbing, and one with a bit more climbing.

Red Rock Canyon is one of the most popular cycling destinations in the entire Las Vegas area, and for good reason. Today we'll start in southwest Las Vegas and head up the I-215 trail for a few miles before we pick up Charleston Blvd. to head west out of civilization and into the canyon. We'll slowly climb most of the way -- nothing too terribly steep, and if the wind is just right, you might not even realize that you're climbing much at all.

When we get to the entrance for the 12-mile Red Rock Canyon scenic loop, you've got an option. You can head just a couple more miles up the main highway, turn around at the canyon overlook, and head back to Las Vegas the way you came. That will give you a ride of about 23 miles and about 1,300 feet of climbing. Or, if you've got a few cycling miles under your belt, you can tackle the scenic loop, return to the canyon overlook, and rejoin the 23-mile riders back to Las Vegas for a total ride of about 34 miles and a more robust 2,500 feet of climbing. The scenic loop contains some moderately steep climbs and descents and is for experienced cyclists.

McGhie's won't be open early in the morning when we ride out, but park and meet in the back of the parking lot away from the main entrance. Look for the black pickup truck with all the ALC stuff! Several gas stations and mini-marts with toilets, food, and water are nearby.

You don't have to be registered for ALC 2017 to join us on our training rides! In fact, we hope that after you've ridden with us, you'll be motivated to join us for the main event from San Francisco to Los Angeles next June ... registration for ALC 2017 is still open.

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Mystery ride to Jean (4/23/2016)

Date: Saturday, April 23
Meet time: 7:00 a.m. Note earlier meet time!
Ride-out time: 7:30 a.m.
Meeting place: Sunset Station, 1301 W. Sunset Rd. (map)
City: Henderson, Nevada
Rain policy: Rain cancels; make-up date is April 24
Pace: 3 - medium-brisk pace (12-15mph)
Terrain: 2 - rolling hills
Miles: 60

With only about a half-dozen turns in the space of 60 miles, this is one of our least complicated routes of the entire season, as we head down old U.S. 91 -- roughly parallel to I-15 and with almost no traffic -- to the Gold Strike at Jean, turn around, come back up the old highway, and return to Henderson on St. Rose Parkway. So why the mystery?

The weather is the mystery ... specifically, the wind. If the wind is light, this is a superbly mellow ride with no big hills and a lot of open-road cycling similar to that in the middle days of the event in June. If the wind is stronger and out of the north or south, then half of our day will be challenging and the other half will be quite literally a breeze. And if the wind is strong and out of the east or west, we might be fighting nasty crosswinds for almost the entire day. But no matter how you slice it, the final 20 miles of the day are all gently downhill.

Ride With GPS reports only about 1,900 feet of climbing for this ride. Toilets, water, and a Starbucks (of course) are available inside Sunset Station. Park and meet in the east-side parking lot, off Marks Street near the hotel entrance. Follow the signs for "Meeting Rooms," and look for the black truck with ALC goodies.

Click here to RSVP now
Please RSVP so I can plan appropriately.

Hoover Dam and Bridge (3/26/2016)

Date: Saturday, March 26
Meet time: 8:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 8:30 a.m.
Meeting place: Fiesta Henderson, 777 West Lake Mead Parkway (map)
City: Henderson, Nevada
Rain policy: Rain cancels; make-up date is March 27
Pace: 2 - medium pace
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills with some steep climbs
Miles: 54

Get ready for an epic ride all the way into Arizona! From our meeting point on the south edge of Henderson, we'll ride the Union Pacific and River Mountain trails into Boulder City for our first rest stop. After that, the real fun begins. We'll get on Highway 93 and quickly descend almost 1,000 feet (good practice for the morning of Day 6) into the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. We'll stay on 93 as it becomes a freeway (also good practice for the event) and descends even more to the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which takes us across the state line into Arizona.

When we reach the first exit in Arizona, we'll leave the freeway, turn around, and head back across the bridge on the wide, smooth shoulder ... and where the throngs of sightseers on the separate walkway will undoubtedly gawk at the sight of bicyclists and might even take a picture of you to show the folks back home.

As if that weren't enough, next we'll descend all the way down to Hoover Dam itself and ride across the top of the dam, just back across the state line into Arizona, before turning around and beginning the moderately steep climb back up to Highway 93 and the entrance to the Lake Mead scenic drive.

But wait, there's more! We'll then ride the River Mountains Trail (no fee for riding the trail) along the edge of Lake Mead and all the way around the recreation area for about 14 miles and up to the Lake Las Vegas area. (This is a more gentle ascent than the steep hill on Highway 93 that we descended earlier in the day.) And after a final rest stop, it's an easy ride (albeit with a bit more traffic) back to the Fiesta.

Ride With GPS reports about a robust 4,200 feet of climbing for this ride. Toilets, water, and a Starbucks (of course) are available inside the Fiesta. Park and meet in the rear parking lot partway up the hill on Fiesta Henderson Blvd. just past the parking garage, toward the train tracks.

Important: This ride passes through a mandatory Homeland Security checkpoint on the access road to Hoover Dam. Although ID checks and searches are rare, bring a photo ID and, if you aren't a U.S. citizen, proof of citizenship.

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Lake Mead (2/27/2016)

Date: Saturday, February 27
Meet time: 8:30 a.m. Note earlier meet time!
Ride-out time: 9:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Sunset Station, 1301 W. Sunset Rd. (map)
City: Henderson, Nevada
Rain policy: Rain cancels; make-up date is Feb. 28
Pace: 2 - medium pace
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills with some steep climbs
Miles: 50

The Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers superb and scenic road cycling just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of metro Las Vegas. Today, we'll explore one corner of that vast area as we descend to the lake and conquer the climb back up through Boulder City.

Before we get to Lake Mead, however, we'll start with a special short bonus climb: the loop around Lake Las Vegas and then back up to Lake Mead Parkway. That will get us to our first rest stop of the day at the River Mountains Bike Shop. After that, we'll go down the hill to the Lake Mead entrance gate, where you'll need to either pay a $5 cyclist fee or show a valid entrance pass (such as the nationwide America the Beautiful pass). This is our gateway to Lakeshore Road, 12 miles of rolling hills that trend gradually downward to the lake and provide striking views of the lake and its "bathtub ring."

Since we descend to the lake, we also have to climb back up. We'll use the River Mountains Trail, which is a longer but far more gentle climb that the hill on Highway 93 that motorists use. When we reach Boulder City, we'll take another rest stop, and then we'll bypass the steepest part of the trail (the part we did on our last ride) and take a short cut to pick up the trail again on the other side of the city. We'll deal with Railroad Pass again (hoping that the winds aren't as strong this time), and after that it's all downhill back to Henderson.

Ride With GPS reports about 2,800 feet of climbing for this ride. Toilets, water, and a Starbucks (of course) are available inside Sunset Station. Park and meet in the east-side parking lot, off Marks Street near the hotel entrance. Follow the signs for "Meeting Rooms," and look for the black truck with ALC goodies.

Click here to RSVP now
Please RSVP so I can plan appropriately.

Boulder City (2/6/2016)

Date: Saturday, February 6
Meet time: 9:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 9:30 a.m.
Meeting place: Sunset Station, 1301 W. Sunset Rd. (map)
City: Henderson, Nevada
Rain policy: Rain cancels; make-up date is Feb. 7
Pace: 2 - medium pace
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills with some steep climbs
Miles: 42

Shake the cobwebs off the derailleurs, and join us as we head south to Boulder City for a fun day on roads, paths, and yes, even a few interesting hills.

After a few miles of gentle warmup, we start with the climb up Horizon Ridge to Paradise Hills, and we'll make our way to the River Mountains Trail. Then we'll head west up and over Railroad Pass, alongside U.S. 93, and into the outskirts of Boulder City. We'll do a big loop around the city, starting with a long and gradual descent toward the airport and continuing with a gentle climb up Georgia Avenue and over to the Nevada Way historic district and our rest stop at mile 21.

After that, we'll explore a little more of the city before making our way under U.S. 93 to again pick up the River Mountains Trail. We'll ride the trail -- which includes the twisty, moderately steep climb to the trail's high point at an elevation of just under 2,700 feet -- all the way back to Henderson, where we'll hop on the Union Pacific Trail and take it to the 215.

Ride With GPS reports about 2,000 feet of climbing for this ride. Toilets, water, and a Starbucks (of course) are available inside Sunset Station. Park and meet in the east-side parking lot, off Marks Street near the hotel entrance. Follow the signs for "Meeting Rooms," and look for the black truck with ALC goodies.

Click here to RSVP now
Please RSVP so I can plan appropriately.

St. George Christmas orphans (12/25/2015)

CANCELED - unfavorable weather
Date: Friday, December 25
Meet time: 11:15 a.m.
Ride-out time: 11:30 a.m.
Meeting place: Crosby Family Confluence Park, 2099 S. Convention Center Drive (map)
City: St. George, Utah
Rain policy: Rain or ice cancels
Pace: 2 - medium pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 1 - mostly flat
Miles: 25

Yes, even in southern Utah, not everyone is able to be with their family or loved ones on Christmas. No point in sitting home alone; come on out and ride. (And even if you are with friends and family, join us after unwrapping the presents, and you'll still get home in time for dinner.)

Because it's Christmas (and because the early forecasts suggest it might be a bit chilly), today's route is relatively easy, with only a couple of mild hills. We start by heading east on the Virgin River Trail until it ends, then a little bit along Riverside Drive to join up with the new segment of the trail, extending past Sullivan Park and along the newest segment east of town. When the paved trail ends, we'll ride an easy 0.3 mile of sand/gravel to the "Bridge to Nowhere," and then head back into Washington via the Washington Dam Road. We'll eventually make our way to 2450 South and pick up St. James Lane to the Bloomington Hills Trail. Finally, we'll scoot under I-15 through the roundabouts (light holiday traffic, so no worries), ride past Bloomington Park, and then pick up the rest of the Virgin River Trail for our return to Confluence Park.

If there is significant rain on Christmas Eve, I will modify the route to not use the sand/gravel section.

We will not ride if the temperature at meet time is 32 degrees or below. Please RSVP if you're planning to attend; if I have zero RSVPs by December 23, I might cancel the ride. Bring whatever food you want or need; don't plan on anything being open along the route.

Everyone gets a detailed route sheet, and you're free to ride at your own pace or with others, whatever you wish.

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Please RSVP so I can plan appropriately.

New Year's Day at Sunrise Mountain (1/1/2016)

Date: Friday, January 1
Meet time: 9:00 a.m.
Ride-out time: 9:30 a.m.
Meeting place: Sunset Station, 1301 W. Sunset Rd. (map)
City: Henderson, Nevada
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Pace: 2 - medium pace
Terrain: 3 - rolling hills with some steep climbs
Miles: 40

Happy New Year! Start your 2016 cycling off with a bang on this scenic and stimulating ride into the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

We depart from Sunset Station, just off Hwy. 95, and we'll start with an easy spin over to Clark County Wetlands Park. (If it's cold, watch for the fascinating sight of steam rising from the Las Vegas Wash.) This takes us to Hollywood Blvd., where we'll slowly climb to the east side of North Las Vegas and our first rest stop.

Then, get ready to climb! Lake Mead Blvd. ascends 2.1 miles and gains about 500 feet on its way to the summit of Sunrise Mountain; it's got a couple of mildly steep parts (more like Evil Twins, not like Quadbuster), so you'll quickly forget about any morning chill that might be lingering. After that, get ready for fun: A descent of more than 6 miles (much of it on brand-new pavement with a gloriously smooth, wide shoulder) takes us into the Lake Mead NRA. This tollbooth is often closed on holidays, but if it's open, be prepared to pay a $10 cyclist fee (good for seven consecutive days, so come back later on your own) or show a valid pass. (The America the Beautiful interagency pass is valid, but the Red Rock-only pass is not.)

Take in the scenery as we ride through the recreation area and connect with Northshore Road, which rises and then descends steeply as it crosses Las Vegas Creek. This begins our other big climb of the day: 2.3 miles with an elevation gain of about 450 feet as we leave the recreation area and begin riding Lake Mead Parkway back toward Henderson. Again, a couple of short and mildly attention-getting parts, but nothing stupidly steep. After all, it's New Year's Day!

Our final 10 miles are mostly easy as we ride the smooth bike lane of Lake Mead Parkway back to Warm Springs Road (with a new buffered bike lane most of the way!) and our return to Sunset Station. Presto, you've already bagged 40 miles for 2016!

Ride With GPS reports about 1,900 feet of climbing for this ride. Toilets, water, and a Starbucks are available inside Sunset Station. Park and meet in the east-side parking lot, off Marks Street near the hotel entrance. Follow the signs for "Meeting Rooms," and look for the black truck with ALC goodies.

Click here to RSVP now
Please RSVP so I can plan appropriately.