Kite ATBMegan 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."

Kiteboarding"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.

Kite LandboardingIn 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 -



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