Changes in the Wind - Pre Riding Xterra West

Well, after both my husband and my coach texted me to get off the couch and get on the course, I headed down to Lake Las Vegas to get my pre-ride in. It was cool, cloudy and still windy, but an otherwise great day. The strong winds over the night had blown all the dust and such out of the air and the view of the strip from Lake Las Vegas was impressive. Add the clouds gathering around Mount Charleston, with the dusting of snow on the mountain and it was a good morning for a ride. The wind never died down, but the sun did come out.

I parked at the transition area and headed up the road to the dirt. The added length of blacktop wasn't too bad. I got on course and started following the blue arrows, riding a nice steady pace. Right away, I noticed one of the first changes to the course. Not really paying attention, I was surprised by the arrows pointing straight instead of the right turn I was anticipating. The biggest change of the bike course is the elimination of the steep ugly hill that everyone walked up and the sketchy descent on the back side. The worst descent - steep, loose with no good lines - has also been taken out. So the course is overall easier and friendlier. So now, we cross over where the run course went last, climb up what we ran down, including that slender ridge halfway down the hill. Then a steep descent, over some washout areas, through a sand pit and a hard right turn to climb up again. The trail crosses where we used to ride and rejoins the old course at the base of the ugly hill. The drop into the wash is a little sketchy and has a few deep ruts. I tried a few different lines - one works well, the other is okay. The wash is rather loose this year and the pipe of disaster is still there. Out of the wash, into the two way traffic area. The left turn off the road is really washed out this year, with only one strong line. After a steady climb with a good view of the lake and the lunar landscape, it's down into another rocky wash. Biggest thing to look out for there are the big, loose rocks - no good lines, it's kinda point and shoot for that down hill. A sharp left and steep climb, then a fast descent to the dam washout.

I haven't cleaned the dam washout yet, but came pretty close this time. I watched another athlete clean in both ways and tried the line he showed me. Almost made it - tried a few more times, getting a little further each time. I also made it across the wash going the opposite direction! That made me happy. There is another really badly washed out section after the dam washout, then back to the dirt road and to the lake shore. That's a fun section - twisting through the cattails and rushes along the lake. It looks like the water level was high this winter - the trail is almost washed out in a few places. I was satisfied with my lap time, but hope I got all the goofy slip ups out of my system today!

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