Powerkiteshop Team Rider - John Eaton speeds across the Ivanpah
Dry Lake Bed
Mark Everitt freestyling it.
The road to Ivanpah
Powerkiteshop Team Rider - Mark Everitt
Megan Edwards knew nothing about buggies until she dropped
in on Ivanpah's cracked, dusty and dry lakebed.
Kite buggiers from around the globe gathered near Primm for
the tenth annual Spring Break Buggy Blast, an event that
regularly persuades people from as far away as New Zealand
and Argentina to make a yearly pilgrimage to the cracked
and dusty surface of the Ivanpah dry lakebed in Nevada.
"Conditions are perfect today,"
Dean said as the wind whipped around us. "We've been
lucky all week." He pointed to a man flying an enormous
kite decorated with a New Zealand flag. "That's Peter
Lynn," he said. Lynn is credited with inventing kite
buggying, and his vehicle and kite designs are popular all
over the world. Also in attendance was Buggy Blast founder
Fran Gramkowski, who hails from New Jersey. I also met Scott
Skinner, president of the Drachen Foundation, an organization
dedicated to the "increase and diffusion of knowledge
about kites worldwide."
"Ready for your ride?" Dean asked,
which was the first time I realized I was going to be more
than a mere observer. He introduced me to Blake Pelton,
a professional kite designer from Colorado. He was standing
next to a buggy built for two. After explaining that under
no circumstances was I to touch my feet to the ground while
we were moving, I was suddenly speeding across the lake
toward Interstate 15.
Now it was easy to understand why people
travel halfway around the world to get to Ivanpah, and why
kite buggying is growing in popularity here in Las Vegas.
Not many places on earth offer thirty-five square miles
of unobstructed flatness.
If conditions are right, which is often the case in southern
Nevada, buggies can travel up to seventy miles an hour.
I topped out at about thirty with Blake, but it felt like
at least a hundred. When I looked back to see that the big
white tent had shrunk to a tiny dot, I was glad to hear
about the safety precautions buggiers take, like carrying
water and making sure somebody knows where they've headed.
In addition, I learned that I was traveling with a very
experienced pilot. Blake got his first kite at age three,
built his first kite at five, and he's been buggying for
over twenty years.
But that isn't to say that it takes twenty
years to learn the sport. "I can teach someone the
basics in a few days," he said.
And as soon as we returned to headquarters,
he resumed giving lessons to an eager novice.
This year's Spring Break Buggy Blast was
cut unexpectedly short by rainstorms that turned Ivanpah
into a real lake. The buggiers will be back next year.
Report: Courtesy of Megan Edwards - www.meganedwards.com
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