Today’s goal was to revisit the Ophir Rd/ Jumbo Grade area before our next winter storm came to Reno. I also wanted to make this ride from my house vs driving to where the pavement ends. Stormy weather and shorter days are working against us but getting out on the bike never disappoints.
I met up with Raymond Eliot in downtown Reno and we made our way south along Old Virginia Rd to where Alt 395 enters Pleasant Valley. At the bottom of Pleasant Valley we climbed Washoe Summit to the base of Ophir Rd. This was my second trip to Ophir Rd, a dirt road and historic mule train route to Virginia City. The views of the Carson Range, including Mt. Rose and Slide Mtn were snow covered and peeking through advancing storm clouds. I knew at this point a ride all the way to Virginia City would be pushing good judgement. I let Ray know we would ride out a set amount of time before we turned back. I also introduced him to the folly of summit fever.
We came across a dozen wild horses in the first secluded valley we crossed. We got to see them on the move the whole ride. Across the valley I saw a distinct road cut that I wanted to explore on the ride back. I told Ray about some dunes I wanted to get a closer look at from my first trip here.
The 26×2.75 Dirt Wizards on my Surly Instigator were at their limit to float in the fine sand around the dunes. Four or 5 inch width tires would have made the pass easier. Beyond the dudes were a series of roads that eventually made their way into the neighborhoods of New Washoe City. But I wasn’t certain of this shortcut and with precipitation spitting in my face as a reminder we used this as our turn-around-point.
We climbed out to that road cut we saw on our way in. It hadn’t seen much consistent traffic recently but took some effort to build. It gave us a new perspective of our ride to the dunes and we got to see the horses moving across the valley. Finally the road made a bend behind the mountains on the east side of Pleasant Valley. This is exciting, we get to ride bike towards Reno on dirt! We descended a poorly maintained jeep road through a beautiful valley before we climbed a ridge above Pleasant Valley. There were a couple of opportunities to leave the ridge to descend to the houses below but we continued north. Finally the road ended against private property that we skirted to get onto Neilson Rd. and Andrew Ln.
We made it back to the warmth and safety of Wild Garlic’s pizza and beer, a favorite post ride reward. It was Ray’s longest mountain bike ride to date, we both got to ride when the weather told everyone who listened to stay in, and I can now extend the southern dirt route out of town by a few miles above Pleasant Valley.