Fred on bike

Before it all went to downhill. Figuratively.

I like trying new things. New restaurants. New hotels. Even a new sex toy.

But the experience isn’t always how I imagined it would be.

The service could be bad. The towels might be thin. Or the batteries might not stay charged long enough.

Or then again, you might almost kill your husband. By accident.

Last month, right before my husband and I went on one of our Las Vegas trips, there was an article in the New York Times Travel section about this amazing sounding 35 mile bike ride out in Boulder City, near the Hoover Dam, that skirted the edges of Lake Mead.

I read the article. Then I re-read it. And then I called the bike rental place that was mentioned in it. The guy on the phone sounded really enthusiastic so I told him we’d see him in a few days. We were going to take the challenge.

Then I ran out to my local sporting goods store to buy my husband a pair of padded bike shorts so that his boys would be comfortable. See, I knew enough about a 35 mile bike ride to know that he would need that.

On our second day In Vegas, we woke up early, put some sunscreen on and made our way over to Harrie’s Bagelmania for some carbo loading bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwiches. Then we stopped at CVS for some Nature’s Valley granola bars and a couple of bottles of water. And headed the 30 minutes or so out of town. We were ready.

We got to the bike rental shop a little before they opened but the guy let us in anyway. When we told him that we wanted to do the River Mountains Trail, he looked at us and seeing us for what we are, two out of shape mid-40ish year-olds in pseudo bike attire, asked, “You know it’s a 35 mile loop?”. Yep, that’s why we’re here. He then asked us if we biked at home. Um, yeah, the 2 miles to the beach. On flat terrain unless of course you count the drawbridge. So, I guess, not really. He tried to sell us on the 12 mile Historic Railroad Tunnel trail but of course, we would have none of it. 35 miles or bust.

His concern should have been clue one.

Our second clue that we might be in over our heads? When he gave us the flat tire fixing kit and showed us how to use it, telling us that we needed to know this because we would be in the middle of nowhere. And flats happen all of the time. We just kind of stared blankly at each other.

Another clue? A big one? When he seemed a little concerned that we only had two bottles of water each and those granola bars. No liquid protein, no protein gel cubes, no Gatorade. Nah, we don’t need it.

Or when he said it usually is a four hour ordeal but it might take us five.

A sane person would have heeded the guy’s warnings.

We got out of there around 11:00. Found the trail easily and started on our way. There was a nice breeze. And some great scenery. A few hills to tackle but what went up also came down.

Vegas Strip in distance

The Strip is in the distance.

After two hours, we stopped and had our granola bars. The kind that come two to a pack. We each had a pack. It must have been around 1:00 or so. We thought we were almost halfway. If it was going to take us four hours.

High up on a hill with Lake Mead peaking out in the back.

High up on a hill with Lake Mead peaking out in the back.

By 2:00, everything changed. The hills were only going up. The granola bars didn’t give us enough energy. We had to pee but there was no bathroom. There was no breeze. And we were riding directly in to the sun.

Riding parallel to Lake Mead, before reality sunk in.

Riding parallel to Lake Mead, before reality sunk in.

So we started to ride slowly, getting off even at the steeper hills and walking up. Yeah, it was going to take us the whole five hours. If not more.

I kept looking back at my husband. He looked beat. We stopped and took a few minute break and I noticed that the insides of his arms were bright red. No sunscreen there. He’s a former red-headed lifeguard who gets pre-cancerous spots burned off every six months. Not good.

When we were less than five miles away from the bike shop, the trail, which had previously been well-marked, had a fork in it. I chose which way to go. I picked the wrong way as we found out 15 minutes later when we realized that we were on a concrete drainage channel, heading directly in to the sun. The strong afternoon sun that was also being reflected up from the shiny bottom of the channel.

Doubly screwed.

Oh, how I wished for some clouds.

At the start of the final mile, the drainage channel met up with a four lane highway and things looked a little familiar. We knew we were close. So we hopped on the sidewalk. Or at least I did. My husband was riding on the road. Maybe it seemed faster to him. But I yelled in horror as I saw him almost get taken out by a semi. Which would have been awful on many levels but especially this one: to have toiled through those 34 miles and be taken out just right before you reached the finish line.

I can’t even describe to you how I felt when we rolled up to the bike shop. I felt like crying. And lying down in the parking lot. Feeling as tired and as worn out as I had felt since going through 24 hours of labor when my son was born 15 years ago.

But I still had my pride. So I looked at my husband and said, “When we go in there, let’s just tell them that we had a great time. That it was beautiful and perfect and all of those other things that the real cyclists must tell them.”

And let’s hurry back to our idea of heaven: a cool room and a fluffy bed all within the scrumptious luxury of our hotel.

In the car, about halfway back to the Strip, my husband wasn’t looking too good. Bright red all over. And he said he wasn’t feeling too good. He was cold. Shivering actually. Back at the hotel, he took a hot shower, got in to bed and fell asleep.

I hit my computer to see what type of heat-related illness he was suffering from and if he was going to die if I didn’t take him to the hospital. I decided, based on what I read plus the fact that both of my fathers are retired doctors so I feel I’m in a position of knowledge, that he had been drinking plenty of fluids and would probably be dead fine after a rest.

After checking his breathing for the fifth time, I curled up on the couch to read and fell asleep. When we both woke up, two hours later, the sun was down.

But we both felt like we had actually been hit by that semi. And realized that all we had eaten that day were the bagel sandwiches at 8:00 in the morning. And the two packs of granola bars six hours earlier. We had all of these grandiose dinner plans that night but didn’t feel well enough to venture out of the hotel. So we ended up getting take-out from the deli: Matzo ball soup, a turkey wrap and a reuben.

The worst part of it all, other than almost dying? Since we missed breakfast and lunch, we missed the chance to go try some new restaurants. That’s the ultimate FU to us.

Well, that and the fact that the muscles around my vagina were sore for almost a week.

Don’t worry, I manned up. It was Vegas, baby.

A meeting at our hotel. Just my luck!

A meeting at our hotel. Just my luck!