Road2Recovery Mountain Bike Trip
and Review of trails in Blue Diamond, NV
While I wasn't an official sponsor nor was my shop an official sponsor of this event we were invited nonetheless to participate with this amazing group. Road2Recovery offers cycling as a way to repair emotions and cope with wounds in a practical and lively environment. It's a little surreal when you arrive at the effective trailhead and see men and women on mountain bikes, most with some prostetic limbs. Some of these limbs were modified to deal with the stresses of mountain biking.
It was humbling, too. On days when you think, "Man it's cold outside, I should stay here and rest and stay warm in the house," this offers a new perspective. These wounded are out riding and enjoying the experience because they have the ability to still do it. Everyday is a treasure to them. Every moment they can ride is a blessing. And here I have full use of my body. Can make you feel like a real dirt bag.
The trip started as an invite that I thought I wasn't going to get to be a part of. Then things changed and changed again and all of a sudden I was on the road with Zack and Kyle en route to St George, our first stop. We'd ride the Zen trail there and continue on to meet the group in Vegas on Monday morning. We arrived in Vegas on Sunday evening ready for a good time. As it would turn out we wouldn't spend more than a couple of hours a day with the Road2Recovery group, just enough to do some fantastic desert riding with them.
After breakfast on Monday morning we hit the road bound for Blue Diamond, a place I'd never heard of but a place where there are some 150 miles of mountain biking trails in an area known historically for Spanish mining. The Spaniards went off in all directions in search of glory, gold and God. At what has become the tiny colony of a town they found gold in them hills and started mining away looking for the gold. Just as many hardrock camps in the west they needed ability to move massive amounts of rock and debris so they brought in mules. Those mules and their masters created the eerie old, inexplicable roads that now litter the desert countryside. Their work made way for the mountain bikers who'd be along centuries later to build trails and bring new life to this corner of the desert.
Blue Diamond is a town at the center of all of this. They have their own zip and post office. There's even a quirky little bike shop manned by a quirky and amiable mechanic. He's the guy you want sitting around a campfire telling stories of the past of this desert. He's the one that you need to ask about the trail system here.
Unlike my trips to other places I was able to find a trailhead thanks to the group I was riding with. With them I was able to find several different drop in points from other locations along the desert highway that leads to Pahrump. Out there I found a network of trails that went all over. After the first day I was able to orient myself and start guessing which spur trail went where. I was as comfortable out there as I had become with Steamboat Springs.
The trail is hard and soil filled with what seems to be river bed stones. They're all rounded and give the dirt unmatched stability. There are sandy sections, like the section called Viagra... there are several small regions with different names: BFR (?), Badger, Red Canyon, and Cottonwood. There are probably others but that's ok, I think you'll get the idea when you get there.
Back to the riders: all had some new limitation to either mobility or confidence because of either emotional or phsyical injury. I wasn't sure that my volunteering had much to offer because I usually add assistence when there are mechanical issues. But the second day came around and I started to understand why I was there. Carlos had had several C-vertebrae discs fused. His injury and recovery left him unconfident that he could ride like he used to. He stopped dead on a moderate climb and was kicking himself for feeling so out of shape and limited. We encouraged him and told him that he had to keep on with the climb in order to overcome the weakness. The more he did this the stronger he'd become. I didn't think much of it. At the end of the descent off the backside of that climb, which was awesome, btw!, he came up to Cole and me and thanked us for what we had done for him. I didn't understand but then it hit me. I was volunteering to support this crew in a way I never had. They needed fellow cyclists to believe in them, tell them they could do it.
I was glad to be a part of that. They taught me a great deal of things in the short two mornings that I was able to ride with them in that beautiful place without saying a word. Carlos however, I'll remember that for a long time.
One more thing, I got to chase Johnny Tomac for a while on Monday. I've idolized that guy for a long time and met him briefly once before. I'd never been able to ride with him though. The only reason I could keep up was because there was a slower guy in front of him that day. I watched, really watched, and I could see that riding with company for him was like playing dominos. He flicked rocks off the trail with either tire and manualled over rocks, large ones... and rollers. Generally, Johnny T is an amazing rider and in my eyes a living legend. I was stoked that he was part of our ride.
My gracious thanks go to Mandalay Bay and Patrick Miller for making this trip so memorable, to my boss, Duff, at Slim & Knobby's Bike Shop; also, Intense Bicycles for letting me use their Tracer.