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October 4, 2015

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Bicyclists get early glimpse of Hoover Dam bypass bridge


Justin M. Bowen

Participants in the Viva Bike Vegas event gather Saturday on the Hoover Dam bypass bridge before turning around to finish their 115-mile ride.

2010 Viva Bike Vegas

Participants in the Viva Bike Vegas event gather Saturday on the Hoover Dam bypass bridge before turning around to finish their 115-mile ride. Launch slideshow »

It wasn’t views of the Strip or downtown Las Vegas, or overlooking the water of Lake Mead and cliffs at Red Rock Canyon that brought Scott Burger and Tom Moss from Colorado to Las Vegas on Saturday. It was the bridge.

The two were among more than 1,500 people who participated in the 115-mile course of Viva Bike Vegas, the Regional Transportation Commission’s annual bike event, which included riding on the new Hoover Dam bypass bridge a week before the general public is invited to walk on it.

“I wouldn’t come this far for anything except this bridge,” Moss said.

The two used to work together inspecting bridges for the Colorado Department of Transportation, where Moss still works.

“So we like bridges,” Burger said. “I probably wouldn’t just up and do a 115-mile ride out of my house (otherwise).”

In addition to the 115-mile century course, the event included a 50-mile course and a 23-mile course, but the bridge was the star of the event. The longest course drew the majority of the event’s nearly 2,000 participants.

The shorter courses didn’t include a trip to the bridge.

After leaving the RTC’s offices next to the County Government Center downtown, cyclists crossed Las Vegas going east to Lake Mead, then followed the lake to Hoover Dam, about 40 miles from the starting line.

On the bridge, most of the riders took a break to have their picture taken overlooking the dam before getting ready for the next 75 miles of the course. The bicyclists went through Boulder City and Henderson before looping through Southern Highlands on the way to Blue Diamond and Red Rock before returning downtown.

“The scenery all along has been amazing,” Lori Galleor said while waiting to have her picture taken on the bridge. “We wanted to ride along the lake. We’ve never done that before.”

The whole ride was scenic, and some of the riders were happy to be supporting the After-School All-Stars and the Nevada Cancer Institute, the two charities that benefit from proceeds from the event, but most said the bridge was the main attraction.

Heather Stiawalt and Rodney Thanepohn bought new bikes a few months ago and have been training for the ride ever since, motivated by the idea of riding across the bridge.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” Thanepohn said. “To be the first to ride on the bridge, before even a car rides across, is a unique experience.”

Even two professional cyclists, Andrew Pinfold and Max Jenkins, who rode the beginning of the course to represent their sponsor, UnitedHealthcare, said they were impressed.

“It’s spectacular to be able to ride the bridge,” Pinfold said. “It’s a real privilege to be on it. This is probably the only time it will ever happen, for cyclists to have the bridge to themselves. It’s pretty fun to be out here and see all these people and get a great view of the Hoover Dam.”

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