Winner of the New York to Paris to New York (and So Forth) Division: 100 Miles of Nowhere Race Report
A Note from Fatty: I’m really liking Eric Sevy’s (the author of this report) writing. If you do too, you should check out his excellent race report from the Rockwell Relay.
I’ve done 100 miles on a trainer before. In fact, I’ve done it many times, due to the fact that I lived in Panguitch, UT for 15 years where the summer biking season stretches from 11am on July 4th to 6pm on July 4th.
Yes, I am stretching the truth in that statement a little. I’ve personally seen it snow at 1pm on The Fourth of July Parade, thus ending summer after two hours.
I’ve also sat on a set of rollers and stared at a wall for 7 hours, due to the fact that I now live in Las Vegas, where it’s 110 degrees with a 25mph wind as I type this.
Which of course gives me great insight into how it would be to ride 100 miles inside a hairdryer.
I needed a new challenge for the 100 Miles of Nowhere that didn’t include trainers, rollers…or hairdryers.
Then it hit me! Why not go everywhere while going Nowhere? So I proudly announced to my audience (which consisted of my wife and dog) that for The 100 Miles of Nowhere I was going to pedal a loop from The Statue of Liberty to the Eiffel Tower!
…the little ones in Vegas.
THE PLAN OF ATTACK
I went about laying out a course on The Las Vegas Strip that started at the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, which for trivia buffs isn’t even located in Las Vegas, and would turn around at the slightly more fabulous Fountains of The Bellagio which, likewise, isn’t located in the city limits of Vegas either. So there it was, a five mile loop of The Las Vegas Strip that would take me past NY, NY and Paris located completely within the city limits of Paradise, NV. (Feel free to get the lyrics “They Paved Paradise to Put Up a Parking Lot” stuck in your head now.)
Off we go….
BENEFITS & OBSTACLES
I had strategically planned the start time. I needed to wait for the party revelers and club-hoppers to drag their butts home, but get in as many laps before the airport traffic started shuttling the broke tourists to their return destinations. And so I pushed off at 5am. Sunrise comes about 5:30am in Las Vegas this time of year but I was fully prepared with my bike headlight and flashing tail light.
I would pass a single light, on top of a pyramid, that, rumor has, can be seen from space.*
*Note for the curious: a 70 lumen head light has no effect in the man-made canyon of casinos that line The Strip.
The flashing neon signs and blinding lights beaconing passerby’s presented a problem. They reflected off the slick pavement and obscured obstacles such as beer bottles and limos driving without their lights turned on. Before the first lap was completed I nearly rear-ended a limo slightly longer than an aircraft carrier. But I figured if I was going to be responsible for an accident, hitting a limo was in my favor. I could plead with a judge that I was doing
it with two worthy causes in mind. The first, I was raising money for Camp Kesem. The second worthy cause is that anyone who has ever driven on The Strip knows all limo drivers deserve a bike shoved up their wazzu!
When I planned the course I knew I had a hidden benefit; The Strip is crowded with street peddlers and on every corner is someone selling “Water for $1!”. These peddlers are frowned upon by the casinos because they interfere with their ability to sell the same “Water for $5!” inside their establishments. But for me it meant not having to carry extra hydration. I would simply have to fight my way through Transformers and Elvis’ (both the fat stamp and skinny stamp versions) to get more water.
My new support vehicle
This is what a lifetime of peanut butter and bananas will do
DRUNKS, TAXIS & TOURISTS
Las Vegas Blvd (The Strip) is actually a wide street but it doesn’t have bike lanes. Actually, the vehicle lanes are slightly narrower than an average street to condense space and add an extra lane. Over the next 5-6 hours I would be sharing this space with three main groups: Drunks, taxis and tourists and usually they’d be intertwined with the first, using the second to transport the third. Nevada is a “3 Foot Law” state and recently Las Vegas has begun a big campaign to promote this, but as anyone knows “The Strip” is in a world of it’s own. And it obviously doesn’t have a “3 Foot Law”. I’d even bet that in the world of The Strip the law requires a motorist passing a bicycle to be WITHIN 3 FEET!
In the middle of the race someone asked me what it was like to ride a bike all day long, up and down
Las Vegas Blvd. Okay, I asked myself that question after the 66th close call with a taxi, but it doesn’t diminish my intelligent answer: have you ever rode a bike? Have you ever played Frogger?
Do Both at once!
No bike lanes + Tropicana Intersection = suck-o-rama
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY
In laying out my route I picked the widest, straightest, flattest part of The Strip but inside this sectionis a big pitfall. The halfway point of the loop is the intersection of Tropicana and Las Vegas Blvd; statistically the most dangerous intersection in the Vegas valley. I would have to pass through this 40 times.
It wasn’t long before this would rear it’s ugly head and have me changing the course on the fly. An accident had shut the intersection down. I was going to have to sit on my bike and wait for the accident to clear. But then I saw my chance. There are pedestrian walkways over this intersection.
I bunny-hopped my bike onto the sidewalk, pedaled down the walkway, went up the escalator, across the pedestrian bridge and down the other side. Waiting there with a camera was my wife who snapped a great photo of me in front of The Statue of Liberty.
A FITTING END
My loop ended up being a little longer than 5 miles as I’d forgot to take into consideration the U-turns. As I came to the end of Lap 19 my odometer read 95.6 miles. For an instant I considered calling it good but the cyclist inside me spurred me around the turn and I started the last lap.
It was a good move. At the end of the 20th lap my computer read 100.7 miles and a group had just pulled in to take a picture in front of the famous sign. They were a bunch of kids in town for a paintball competition. I found out that they enter contests to help an Autism Charity. And I thought- How fitting is this? That athletes from two obscure sports, both working for charity, would meet up in such an unlikely place and be able to snap a photo together…
It is finished.
I declare myself the winner of The 100 Miles of Nowhere: NY,NY to Paris and back, and back, and back, and….
- Eric Sevy