Saturday, May 19, 2012

Jimmy Lewis, God of the Machine: Day 2 - Sand, Trails, Cathedral Canyon



We all met up at Jimmy's place at 8:00am.  Heather, bless her heart, remembered my cramping from the day before, and handed me a couple of bananas to eat while everyone was getting their bikes ready.  Then, a few minutes later, she found a back pack for my camel bladder which she lent to me for the day.  These little things made the weekend feel so personal, and so much different than being on one of those annoying prepackaged tour groups that cheapen the human experience, and make you want to strangle the tour guides and tourists.


(There's nothing wrong with being a tourist.  That being said, tourism tends to take wonderful places and completely fuck them up until half of the tourist experience is shaking your head in bewilderment that a place, or something so beautiful could be so perfectly ruined.  Yosemite, Niagara Falls, Key West, etc. etc. etc. etc.)


Gassed up, saddled up, excess gas washed off our bodies, and ready to go!
We began the day learning about about riding in sand.  The key lesson I took away is that riding in sand is really, really difficult.  In a weekend full of techniques, sand was probably the most complex.  There are techniques for picking up a fallen motorcycle, a multitude of techniques for getting unstuck, going downhill, uphill, etc.  It was exhausting, particularly in the heat.  I was gasping for air, and am ashamed to admit, at one point, Jimmy picked up my motorcycle for me because I was too exhausted to do it myself.  I definitely need to find a place to practice somewhere in the Los Angeles area because I absolutely do not want to avoid certain trails because of sand.

Jimmy Lewis, god of the machine, as photogenic as he is awesome
After we (the students) embarrassed ourselves to exhaustion, we ventured out to some really cool places in the Pahrump area, including a fascinating place called Cathedral Canyon.

Ronald Wiley (1904 - 1994) took a lovely but undistinguished desert box canyon and used it as an artist would use canvas or a playwright the stage to present his extraordinary view of life and humanity.  He called it Cathedral Canyon, and it was the true passion of his life.


Roland began thinking about something on the order of Cathedral Canyon around 1955.  A visit to Guatemala after an earthquake and the sight of many churches with broken walls and corners still standing with religious figurines sometimes remaining intact provided the inspiration for the canyon.


By the mid-1970's, Cathedral Canyon was fully functional, although Roland continually added to and modified the landmark.

The cathedral contained a suspension bridge, Jesus statue, fountain, lights, music, and from all accounts, was a contemplative, spiritual retreat.  People came from all over the world.  Incredibly, there are very few pictures online of the place when it was fully functioning.

Cathedral Canyon (circa 1995), view from above

Statue appears inspired by Christ the Redeemer of the Andes (Photo taken at Cathedral Canyon, 1975)
Then Ronald, its creator, died and vandals destroyed it.  We rested in the ruins and then rolled on.

Around noon, we stopped for pizza (Heather and Jimmy picked up the tab again), and then headed up to a Wheeler mountain pass at 7,700 feet elevation.  Things got a little more technical on the trail up to the pass.  There were moderate drop offs, and the closer we got to the top, the more I had to concentrate.  Heather was right behind me, and later encouraged me by telling me that I was making good decisions deciding my line.  Wheeler Pass was cool because it overlooked Area 51, and people riding dune buggies, dirt bikes, and jeeps congregated there and chatted about the off roading. 

Approaching Wheeler Pass

Overlooking Area 51
Wheeler Pass
From there, we headed back to Jimmy and Heather's place, and took our time collecting our things and reattaching our panniers.  Beer and snacks appeared out of nowhere.  We relaxed, told stories, and planned our routes.

While we lounged, Jimmy said to me, "I was watching you a little bit today, and you looked so much more confident than yesterday.  You were taking some of those turns really fast...Probably even faster than I would have been taking them with those tires of yours."  He went on to explain that it would be a good idea to slow down for the time being, not because a crash could hurt me or my motorcycle, but because it would be so damaging to my confidence that it would set me back a lot further than if I gradually ramped up speed and aggressiveness.

I thanked Jimmy and Heather profusely, and headed back to the whorehouse.  I had a few hours to kill before going to bed, so I plopped myself down at the bar.  I was worried, at first, that it would be like a strip club with women aggressively selling lap dances, but as I was in the "sports bar" and not in the "brothel" (which was ten feet away), solicitation was illegal.  I ordered a beer and within thirty seconds, a woman of ill repute sat next to me and chatted me up.  I explained to her that the only reason I was staying at the whorehouse was because of the off road motorcycle class, and that I was not interested in "having [that kind of] fun".  We chatted, and then ten minutes later, the bar tender gave her a look, and she left.  Two minutes later, another whore sat down next to me, and I had virtually the same conversation.  She was an American history phd student, and I commented on all the Ron Paul for president signs all over Nevada.  "I know!"  She said, "It drives me crazy.  I HATE that guy!"  Then she paused, and said, "You don't like him, do you?"  I said, "Well actually, I'm a Libertarian."

I was nearly finished with my beer by the time the third young lady sat down next to me.  After a few minutes, she offered to take me on a tour of the brothel, and I agreed.  I was shown the "fantasy rooms" with baths and pools, the "date room" for a romantic dinner atmosphere, and then we walked into the S&M room.

"Wow!  This is all real!" I said.  There were chains on the wall, a chair, various devices, a stereo system.

"Oh...I don't do this, but I can get you a girl that does."

"No no.  I'm not interested in a session, I just, wow, I didn't know this stuff actually existed."

"It's mostly very powerful and wealthy men who get off on not being in control.  From what I hear, usually no sex takes place in here."

Next to the fantasy rooms, the whores have their own  rooms where they live while they are in town.  They stay anywhere from a week to a month, work when they want, hang out, and give a cut of their proceeds to the brothel owners.  She showed me her room and after a cursory attempt at soliciting, I thanked her for the tour and went back to the bar, paid my tab, grabbed a six pack of beer, and downed it prior to falling asleep.

A big thanks to this guy for the great photos of the weekend.

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