When storms hit northern California and western Nevada it is often a game of watching the storm tracks and making the best educated guess as where to ride. Just the day before Brandon Anderson and I rode out of Quincy, CA in a cold windy rainstorm. Chalk that up to adverse conditions training. For today’s ride we started looking as far east as Middlegate but decided to take a chance on the Lahontan Reservoir area. Simpson Rd has always been on my list of rides. It is best known as the Pony Express Route.
I traced a couple of loops in the area and went with a quote shaped bubble into the Dead Camel Mountains. We were super impressed with the condition of the roads. Much of the route was carved out of the ancient lake bed, hard and buffed smooth like fresh tarmac. Much of the road bed was bellow the surrounding land. I can only imagine what a mud bog Simpson Rd could present. After about 11 miles of tailwind assisted cruising we headed north into the hills.
We passed a couple of mini-playas. The road surface changed between clay, rock and sand. Luckily the roads never made us wish we were on anything other than our gravel bikes. We did encounter the occasional pitch that was too steep to ride. But we were always rewarded by views of rugged canyons and mountain ranges across broad flats.
With views of Lahontan Reservoir we descended a very sandy track to the ancient lake bed. Luckily this was the descent. The sandy track had us surfing our bikes through the soft stuff. There would have been no way to climb this track with 700x40c tires. The ride back to our start was spent in the reflection of a high quality day. By the numbers the day’s temperatures were in the upper 30’s to lower 40’s, breezy, damp, but improving through the day.
When I return to the area I would like to see how far I can stay on the Pony Express Route. To cover the distance I think plus sized tires would be in order. There is too much variety in the desert roads to rely on anything narrower. I would like to explore the Desert Mountains as well as the White Throne Mountains. This is just my first ride in the area.
I highly recommend Bike Carson’s write-ups for more information on this area.