Winter Monday Shop Rides

The Line Up

I work with a great bunch of bike riders at the Reno Bike Project. As a community bike shop we serve the bike riding public in the greater Truckee Meadows with access to tools, DIY bicycle repair, economical used and new bicycle parts, refurbished bicycles, and a hub for bicycle culture. While during our peak season we are open 7 days a week, during our winter we are closed Sundays and Mondays. So this winter I planned on hosting Monday bike rides for my co-workers to share with them some favorite local routes.

Not everyone could make every ride nor could I plan a ride for every Monday but this is how it shook out.

The Cast:

Raymond Eliot – Public Workstation Guru

Ray Eliot coming into view
Crossing just below a boundary dune system

Ray and I have done some serious riding! Our 3 part tour from Pyramid Lake, around the Smoke Creek Desert, and to the Black Rock Desert was a true test of our ability to be bike riding partners. At work Ray is the one I lean on the most to make sure the shop runs well. He has mastered taking the naive bike mechanic and making sure they are successful with their bike repairs. Ray has accomplished a couple successful solo tours on the Pacific coast  as well.

His ride, KHS SixFifty 6500+

Allen “Ray” Hill – Meticulous Mechanic

Ray Hill above Gold Hill

I have known Allen the longest, coming up on 20 years. Now he goes by Ray and is known professionally as Bicycle Ray through his mobile repair bussiness. Ray believes in and embodies the spirit of the community bike shop. As a racer of 30’ish years Ray can tell you about every mile he has raced through California and Nevada.

His ride, KHS 4 Season 3000

Dean Magnuson – Bicycling Romantic to Fat Biking Proselyte

Dean and Moses rounding Winnemucca Lake
Riding together at the end of a long day

Dean came to the Reno Bike Project with the community spirit! Before he started volunteering hes was helping people find what they were looking for in our collection of used parts. After picking up on his valuable customer service I encouraged him to volunteer regularly, then in order to secure his free time we hired him. Dean’s vast collection of bikes, DIY on a budget experience and interest in “Community” makes him a great asset to the Bike Project. Dean has chronicled many of our rides on video.

His ride, Gravity Quigley

Mike Pickering – Punk Rock Bike Mechanic/ Shop Manager/ Bicycling Dad

Suiting up
Kid prep for a day on the road

Mike is the most talented bike mechanic I know. Coupled with his sense of fraternity, compulsive organization, and bike shop experience he is a key leader at the Bike Project. Mike is an avid adventure bike tourist involving his whole family, wife Erin, son Moses, and daughter Enola, in commuting, family picnicking, outings and camping. Mike is also an accomplished bag maker for bicycles and motorcycles. Check out his Instagram for more. His ride, Surly Krampus 29+

Elijah D. Lyons

Elijah has worn many hats so far at the Reno Bike Project. As a regular volunteer he has given his time to support all aspects of RBP’s daily functions. He is a regular participant of Dan’s Night and our annual functions. Most recently he was a participant in our FutureCycle internship program resulting in him becoming our most recent hire. He is instructing two Bicycle Repair Classes; Monday afternoons to the Girl Scouts and Thursday evenings to our members. Elijah is involved. Elijah also has professional interests in branding, design, and marketing.

His ride, Giant Trance, custom Bike Project build!

Jake Francis – Super Volunteer, Bike/Bee Guy

Moses checks out a rabbit mandible

Jake is a PhD candidate at the University of Nevada at Reno studying the ecology, ethology, and evolution of native bees. He came to us from the Recyclery in Asheville, NC. Jake is always willing to lend a hand with the public and most frequently takes charge at our weekly open bicycle repair clinic and is a regular instructor for our comprehensive bicycle repair class. Jake’s many interests and always positive attitude makes him very popular on bike outings.

His ride Lynskey Sportive

Hunter Lake Rd – Snow covered

Ray and Dean top of Hunter Lake Rd
The Ray Hill grin

“Allen” Ray Hill had just got a new KHS 4-Seasons Fatbike. With the goal of being able to ride all winter and the reality that we received 200% normal snow fall this year Ray went ahead with getting his fatbike.  Once he got his bike it was our duty to get him out. With an early snowstorm we took to the hills above “old southwest Reno” to climb into the Carson Range on a forest service road that bisects the Mt. Rose Wilderness. The route is easily accessible and challenging under any conditions. The increasing snow coverage kept it interesting and gave Ray Hill a true test for his new bike. With time allowing we rode to the high point between the Truckee Meadows and Hunter Lake. We earned a long descent back to the start slipping between partly snow covered rocks. Ray’s ear-to-ear grin was proof positive to how much he is enjoying his new bike.

Jumbo Grade – Ophir Grade – Virginia City

Jumbo to Ophir Grades, Virginia City
Moderate Ophir Grade

Getting your friends out to show them awesome places is a great feeling. Climbing the historic mule train route from Washoe Lake to Virginia City offers just that. I rode a version of this route about two year ago and became enamored with the history and natural beauty with of the area. Raymond just got his KHS full suspension 65ob (27.5) Plus bike (hows that for a marketer’s dream description).As the maiden voyage, this rugged route would be a good test.

rest break 1/2 way up Jumbo Grade
Climbing Jumbo Grade

Early in the route some of the wear and tear of erosion on the roads put us to the test and later the grade tested Mike’s power-endurance carrying his daughter, Enola, on the homemade kid seat on the back of his Surly Krampus. It baffles my imagination how the early mule trains transported ore and building materials up and down these roads.

Virginia City Jerky Co.
Lunch stop

Transitioning from Jumbo Grade to Ophir Grade we were above Gold Hill and Virginia City was just coming into view. The mellow ride into Virginia City was a welcomed rest. We had lunch at the Virginia City Jerky Co. then did a little sightseeing loop on the main C St and B St. Our return trip was a roller coaster ride through the junipers with views of Washoe Valley and the snow capped Carson Range.

Ray H bottom of Jumbo

Winnemucca Lake – abandoned tungsten mine

Valley Rd, Winnemucca Lk
Dean, Ray, Mike and Enola heading out

Arcing around the south end of a relatively new playa this ride shined for a couple of reasons. First off our group included Jake Francis who is always a pleasure on a ride. Our group also included Moses Pickering, our shop manager Mike Pickering’s 7 year old son. Moses rode his mini-Plus bike with the adults the entire day. We all can say we have seen the future of bikepacking in Moses’ courage.

Bikepacking mentoring
Moses assisted by Dean’s firm arm and kind words

After a bit of route finding we were cruising along the east side of the playa past the opening to Coyote Canyon. Dean and I had ridden here so we could point out some of our favorite spots. But our goal today was a tungsten mine ruin beyond where Dean and I looped across the playa.

Great roads
Gravel along east side of Winnemucca Lake

Everyone was in awe of the remaining multi tiered concrete foundation. I think everyone has a favorite post-apocalyptic scene from a movie and this spot makes you feel like you walked onto the set. The site offers plenty to explore including a canyon wash behind the mine begging to be ridden.

Canyon wash to explore
Road above the mine, into Nightingale Range

The out and back return brought our day’s mileage just shy of 30 on hard pack, gravel, and sandy roads. While this was a test of everyone’s fitness our two junior adventurers truly rose to the occasion. Best of all, our group worked together and stayed together so that everyone had a great day. Also worth mentioning the day’s temperatures were hovering around freezing so props to our hearty band of bike adventurers.

Terraced canyon, Winnemucca Lake
I would love to see this in a flash flood

Bedell Flats – Willow Springs

Across Bedell Flats from Fred’s Mountain to Dogskin Mountain

Bedell Flats is the depression south of the Dogskin Mountains maintained by the BLM between wild horse Herd Management Areas. The area’s proximity to Reno makes for an easy getaway to a silent sea of chaparral. While I have shared this area with many this was a first time outing for Mike and Enola, and Ray Hill hadn’t ridden out here since it was a training ride for him from northwest Reno.

Enola, where are we going?
Then where?

There were a few roads into the Dogskin Mountains with labeled springs I wanted to check out. With recent storm events I was hoping the riding conditions were passable. The area is known for its sandy conditions, which can be difficult for conventional mountain bikes when dry, and there are always slick clay bogs which can be impassible when wet. I knew there is always a gamble on conditions but it is worth taking by getting out there.

Muddy low points Photo: Mike Pickering

The conditions were good. While there is an enormous amount of water in the desert right now the damp sand made for ridable conditions and the mud bogs were skirt-able (except the one I fell into). Much like soft snow, the climbing we did into the Dogskins in soft sand, compounded by the steepness of the grade, was much harder than we anticipated. We made a few spur of the moment route decisions that led us to quite scenic terrain.

Truckee Range – Fireball Ridge, Tolbert Canyon, North Valley

Hot Springs Flat

Ray Eliot was so excited for our last ride when I announced we were taking off from I 80 exit 65, Nightingale Hot Springs. The name is a bit misleading, Nightingale refers to the old mining site to the north, while Hot Springs refers to the Bradys Hot Springs, which are privately harnessed for geothermal food processing. The water reaches the surface at about 300 degrees so there is no need to pack your bathing suit. Sorry, Ray.

Ray getting ready to climb into the Truckee Range

But the area offers a series of dirt roads in all directions perfect to be explored by bike in near solitude. Ray, Elijah and I headed out after a break in the weather with the intent of riding through the Truckee Range and to the north creating a loop around Fireball Ridge. The roads were mostly dry but got muddy then snowy as we climbed into the mountains. As travel slowed we decided to not pres our luck and turned back.

Mines on the south end of Fireball Ridge

Ray and I returned a few days later to continue our adventure. We brought our dogs with us who inadvertently pushed a group of cows to Tolbert Canyon before we could pass them on our way to North Valley.

Tolbert Canyon, Truckee Range

We followed the most obvious dirt roads through the region. Power lines, pipe lines, and active mines seem to be the main motivation for roads through this area. Other than seeing two trucks shuttling back and forth to a mine and one personal vehicle on the eastern base of the Truckee Range we were alone. Easy access and a rich network of roads makes this area a great starting point for adventures lasting hours to days.

Looking to North Valley and north end of Truckee Range
The illusion of infinitely long dirt roads, Hot Springs Flat

We covered some ground this winter. I am already looking forward to what next winter will bring.

4 thoughts on “Winter Monday Shop Rides

  1. Dave Landefeld

    Great post! Thanks especially for the map. BTW after talking to you the other day I made it to exit 65. I will pick your brain further on that one. Peace

  2. Pingback: Ride Report; Loop Around Winnemucca Lake | Bikepacking Northern Nevada

  3. Pingback: S24O at Winnemucca Lake MGL Mine – Bikepacking Northern Nevada

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s