Monday, February 16, 2009

Ride 17 - Mesquite City

Nothing like staying close to headquarters on a blustery day. It was supposed to rain (yet again) in the afternoon but we had stood being cooped up for as long as we could handle. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: [Ride 17 - Mesquite]

We had been meaning to "test" Mesquite's newly passed (and hotly debated) ATV law. There was so much rhetoric about the thing that it was hard to say what was real and what was not. Apparently, the city "fathers" (does this still hold if the mayor is a woman?) have been saying all along that ATVs could ride along the river; but, the BLM was reported to have disagreed.

The city also claimed that there was cross city access through the city's drainage ditches. Riders, however, claim that the gates to them are all locked and bike/walking trails have signs posted against motorized vehicles.

Clearly, by state law (and enabling city legislation), ATVs are supposed to be able to navigate all the city's streets EXCEPT Mesquite Boulevard, Pioneer Boulevard, and Riverside Drive. Rigs MAY cross those streets (if you dare), but not ride along them. And, of course, I-15, which bisects the city, is verboten; as well as your head MUST be covered under DOT approved plastic.

So, we left Snowbird Headquarters in fearful anticipation and attempting three goals: to quantify where the "legal" roads would allow us, to see if we could ride along the river, and to see if we could ride across town to the Northside Flats trailheads from Southwest Mesquite.

I'm happy to say that we accomplished all three goals, albeit not without a substantial amount of negotiation and back-tracking.

From headquarters we rode on 2nd South to the bike/walking trail and because there was no sign prohibiting it, rode along the dirt shoulder across Hafen Lane and down to the river. So far, so good. There were trails along the river which we could ride in both directions, we chose East.

You can tell the Virgin River has changed its course over the years. About even with "Thistle Avenue" there was obvious work at reclamation, as well as fences and signs telling you so.

About even with "Laurel Way" the trail along the river turns North and enters the city's drainage system. A trail does go up out of the wash but only to a closed in dirt area.

We headed up the culvert. At Mesquite Boulevard (by Ace Hardware) you need to climb over some rocks and up into the cement tunnel - not bad. However, at Old Mill Road the boulders the city has place there are too big and oddly placed to negotiate without damage to one's rig. There are a couple of tracks where people have climbed up the embankment and onto the sidewalk at Desert Drive.

Across Old Mill Road, another dirt area provides a way to get back down into the ditch on the other side of the blockage. The next thing you know, after a very interesting ride through a long, noisy and musty tunnel, you are on the other side of the freeway.

Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.”
John Steinbeck

You could continue North, but that would only get you up to Pioneer; so we climbed out of the wash onto the Southwest corner of the Virgin River Casino parking lot. We navigated around the outside of the parking lot and up to the stop light at Mesa Boulevard and Pioneer.

As nice as you please we just joined the Que of automobiles waiting on the semaphore then rode, turning heads, across the street and up Mesa Boulevard to the trailhead.

Just for completeness sake, we wanted to see how far up North that trail would take us (thinking of our previous two failed attempts to find the Northeast passage). The answer was: "not far."

We rode up along peoples property lines (which must not make them too happy) until we arrived at the Northeast end of an airport runway. Then down, around and up to the edge of a large canyon area, which just happens to be the 19Th hole of a pretty serious golf course.

Finding no way up and around, we retraced back down to the river and rode West to the Riverside bridge. With all the construction and traffic there is really no way to get either across or around the area.

We tried several other paths to get up off the river bank but they eventually were found to be signed against motorized vehicles. It was confusing, and we may have gotten it wrong, but we ended up on Hafen and from there up Thistle and back to headquarters.


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