In the same vein as last week, we now move on to the Interbioke show at Las Vegas in 1996......
In 1996 Tom told me I was going with him to Las Vegas to Interbike again. Who was I to argue? So it was that I found myself on another jet airplane heading to Vegas. Now, I hadn't gotten any more used to flying since the year before, so I was once again doing the white knuckle gig as we flew westward. Tom was checking out the window and said, "Hey man! Check it out! it's the Grand Canyon!" I looked out from 30.000 plus feet and that really didn't bother me a bit, oddly enough. I mean, looking at anything from that far away just is surreal anyhow. But then, I was suddenly struck with something that my knowledge of geography brought to mind.
Grand Canyon.....Lake Mead.......30,000 plus feet......Las Vegas! We're going down real soon real fast!! And just as that thought crossed my mind, the plane nose dived and went careening towards McCarren International Airfield. Yikes! The whole plane suddenly shuddered with a great vibration. I saw out the window that the pilot had applied the air brakes to break his free fall. I about came unglued! And it happened twice more before the pilot slammed the landing gear so hard onto McCarren's runway that I thought the wheels would surely break off. You know, the sheer terror of that flight put me off from flying for several years afterwards.
But in the meantime I was stuck in Las Vegas until the next, the last flight of my entire life. (At least that is what I thought back then) It kind of ruined the whole vibe of the trip for me because in the back of my mind I was dreading having to step onto another airplane, but it was the only way I was getting home again.
There was only one thing that ever did take my mind off the impending doom of my last ever airplane ride, and that was the ever present ding-dong, kaching,bong! of the one armed bandits that were everywhere you turned in this place. That and the screens that showed the numbers for some gambling game that I never did quite figure out while I was there.
Las Vegas was a different place back then. I know...... That sounds cliche', but it is so true. When I went back in 2007 I didn't recognize the place. (So yes, I flew in an airplane again!) It had grown so much in ten years. For instance, their was nothing beyond McCarren International back then but desert. You know, if you've been there recently, that McCarren is swallowed up in urban sprawl now. Anyway, the place was much different then, and it was definitely a snap shot in time when I was there.
Next week: More Interbike Vegas 1996............
Riding The Gravel Waves To Waverly
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