What happens in Vegas...
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas - but we just had to share this with our friends and family:
WE GOT MARRIED IN VEGAS!
It was crazy.
It was spur of the moment.
It was rash.
But you only live once!
We celebrated in town, then headed out the famous Vegas sign for a picture.
Here it is:
Only joking, even we’re not that spontaneous. But we could have - $75 for the marriage certificate and you’re good to go. No need to make a reservation, just rock up. Sort of like a gents hair cut.
If you don’t want to go the full hog and get married, but want to pretend to your social media followers that you did, you can pay $70 for a “fake Vegas wedding photo shoot” complete with Elvis impersonator and mock vicar. Or you could pay for the “fake arrest” photo shoot, so you can pretend you got arrested, and post about it online. Seems a lot of money to pay for a bunch of likes on facebook.
It’s like Disney Land for adults. Driving down the strip it’s a wonder there aren’t more crashes every day – there is so much to look at and take in. Themed hotels (Caesars Palace, Luxor (Egypt), The Venetian), shops, restaurants, towers, theme parks, theatres and everything in between. Every building with the sole intention of taking your money.
Each hotel tries to outdo the others, as they want you to come in and gamble in their casino. The casinos have no windows or clocks so you lose track of time, and they ply you with free drinks to get you drunk and make you gamble more.
It’s undeniably fun, but after a while you realise they’re not just giving you the drinks to be nice; they’re doing it to get your money. It’s easy to forget the only rule of gambling - that the house always wins.
The lights, hotels and buzz of the place are incredible, and we’re so glad we got to go, but it’s not somewhere we’d rush back to.
Vegas was the last stop on our Arizona, Nevada and Utah road trip. Before Vegas we spent six days visiting Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Horse Shoe Bend, and Zion National Park.
It’s been a brilliant week, and great to have a break from cycling, especially after a tough few days getting to Phoenix. We camped in the snow at the Grand Canyon (-7C), got up at 5am to watch the sunrise, visited the Hoover Dam, and spent a days hiking through some beautiful scenery.
It would take pages to describe each of these places in words, so if you are interested, check out the South West Road Trip album here.
A story worth mentioning, was meeting our new Serbian friend Milenko in Zion National Park. We’d never heard of Zion in Utah before coming to the USA. It’s a two-hour drive from Vegas – and 100% worth the trip. The park is an enormous canyon, and there is a hike you can do to a place called the Angels Landing which gives you a stunning view right the way down. In order to get to the view point, you need to traverse a ridge with terrifying vertical drops on either side.
The night before we visited it had snowed and iced over, so the already treacherous route was even more so. We waited until the afternoon, so the worst of it had melted before checking it out. We got about halfway, then decided no matter how good a selfie we could have got, it was too dodgy to go on. Here’s a picture of Katie clinging on for dear life at the point we turned around.
As we turned, we met Milenko who had just been to the top. He took some pictures for us and we chatted once we were all down safely. After we had explained our trip the conversation went like this, in his broken English:
“Your trip sound amazing! I also love cycle my bike long distance”
“Thanks. Cool, what sort of long distance?”
“Have you heard of Serb tennis player Novak Djokovic?”
“Yes of course, he’s pretty much the only Serb we’ve heard of”
“Novak is personal friend of mine. In 2020, I will cycle my bike from Serbia to Japan to watch him play in Tokyo Olympics”
He showed us a bunch of pictures of him and Djokovic on his phone - he is legit. He’s currently on an eight month tour of the USA, we told him we’d drop him a line when we were in Eastern Europe around July 2017 time.
We never intended this blog to be a: “we did this, and we did that, and it was, like, awesome” type of travel blog, so instead of describing each one of the hikes we did, we thought we’d address a frequently asked question we get:
"What’s a typical day like for you guys?"
Truth is, no two days are the same – every day brings new conditions, new things to look at and new people to meet.
We generally plan our routes and accommodation on a rolling two week schedule. We’ll have a rough idea of where we’ll be in two weeks, and a solid idea of where we’ll be in the next seven days. We try and sort as much accommodation out as possible through friends, friends of friends, contacts, or people we meet along the way. Next step is to look at Couch Surfing or Warm Showers (cycling network), and if there’s no option through those then we camp.
We try and get on the road by 0730 each day, regardless of the distance we’re covering. It means we have more time to stop and check places out, more time as a buffer if things go wrong, more time to make our destination before it gets dark, and more time to chill if we get there ahead of time.
In general we probably cover around 100km/day, depending on wind/elevation/road surface etc. We are flexible, and so if the conditions are good, we’ll crack on and put in a big day. You have to make the most of favourable weather when it’s on your side. We are slaves to our weather apps, always checking wind direction, the times it is forecast to change by the hour, what the rain, sun etc is doing. As a rule we try not to cycle when it’s dark but a couple of times we’ve had to just to make our accommodation/water stop etc.
Eating enough is essential to keep moving. A big porridge breakfast is always a winner, we carry a camp stove so we can cook up cheap and nutritious meals for lunch, and throughout the day we eat oat bars and fruit on the move.
We navigate generally on google maps, and sometime actual old school maps. We’ll often stop in cafes or shops to get on wifi and check our route, check emails from people we’re staying with etc.
Here’s a very short video we put together that shows “a day in the life” – it was actually not a typical day as it turned out to be the second longest day (in distance terms) of the whole trip. We had only planned to do 60km, but conditions were good so we pressed on to Globe and did 187km.
As you’ll see, we slept in a random caravan (someone put us in touch with the owner), had a big breakfast, eat and cycled a lot, then camped outside a fire station (with the lads permission).
That McDonalds is actually the only one we’ve had in our whole trip across the states, before everyone thinks that’s our dinner every night. We’d just arrived in Globe, exhausted, and the manager took pity on us when we were using the wifi outside and invited us in for a complimentary burger!
Yesterday was our first day back in the saddle again after a week off. It feels so good to be moving west again – here is our live map so you can see where we are.
As always, we meet an eclectic bunch of people every day. Just as we’re writing this in a sports bar, we met Scott who warmly welcomed us to the Arizona, and to the USA.
He was wearing a four-inch flick knife in a sheaf around his belt, so we asked him about it. He said:
“I love the freedom I got here in Arizona. I moved here for three reasons:
I can smoke medicinal weed here
I can ride my motorcycle without a helmet
I can carry an unconcealed weapon without anyone bothering me”
Scott used to live in New York, but felt he was “over governed” as he couldn’t do any of the above. He went on to talk about the election:
“People are fed up with our politicians focusing on what’s happening overseas and neglecting the American people. That’s why Trump got in, he’s going to focus on America and not worry about these other countries that we aint got nothing to do with.”
“People are talking about these refuges coming over. If there’s some Syrian man between the age of 15-55 coming here as a refugee – you got to question his motives. Why are they not standing and fighting in their own country? I think they’re coming here with ulterior motives”
“Back when the US was a British colony, we were over governed and over taxed, and we stood and fought and got our independence. This whole situation comes back to the principles on which our country was founded – we’re taking back our freedom.”
…(and on climate change)
“I think it’s all made up, these scientist are twisting the numbers to make the results fit with their theories. I’ve seen articles about it, I’ve seen it happen. It’s just the normal cycle of the earth, we had the stone age, the ice age – that’s why dinosaurs went extinct. We don’t see many of the effects of it over here so I guess in the USA we don’t really see it as a big issue.”
It’s indicative of this trip that about 30 minutes later we met someone with a totally different view on pretty much everything.
Bill’s house is where we stayed last night, we connected through Warm Showers (cycling network). Bill and his friend Alana took us out for a chinese all you can eat buffet. His story is heartbreaking but inspiring. In the last few years, he’s overcome colon cancer, a brain tumour and the passing of his wife. He loves cycling and bike touring and regularly hosts people who are passing through. He still gets out on his bike when he can and is planning a bike tour for next summer.
“The narrative of the Republican Party is that climate change is made up. It’s not. It’s real and it’s clear for anyone to see. They are representing the interests of the major coal and oil companies, instead of the people. We (America) are the biggest contributor to climate change and yet we’ve just elected a guy who is saying it’s a hoax by the Chinese.”
“I’m really worried about Trump deregulating all these businesses so they’ll be able to to do what they want, at any cost to the environment.”
Bill is a genuine top guy and fantastic host – one of the coolest people we‘ve met in the states. He has his final brain scan results back on the 28th December – we have everything crossed for a positive outcome.
This week we’re on the final few days to San Diego where we’ll finish leg two of our round the world cycle ride! You can actually see an overview of our full round the world route on the website. We have a fair few hills and lots of desert yet to pass through before we get there so no celebrating yet.
We continue to head due west, so every evening we are riding directly into the sunset, passing next to mountains and cactus.
As we’re coming to the end of the states, it’s like the end of a Western movie. But instead of a cowboy riding a horse into the sunset, it’s us two riding our bikes.