Without this blog I would be riding about the desert just as I have been for the last three years but this outlet has made it all the richer. Looking back a year ago I was reflecting on the crisis of loosing our public lands, especially the protection of our wilderness. So one goal of mine was to focus on our wilderness and wilderness study areas and showcase them on my rides. My wilderness area focus for 2017 will always be an underlying theme for this blog. Nevada spoils the outdoor enthusiast with its abundance of public lands.
I have enjoyed being a part of the outdoor blogging community. A few writers seem to be away from their keyboards. I hope this is temporary as I do miss their adventures. I have “met” so many writers this year and I am grateful for their insight and influence on Bikepacking Norther Nevada. I am excited for their shared stories in 2018.
The “who I have ridden with” of 2017 was richer than ever! I organized a few rides from the end of 2016 to the beginning 2017 with my shop coworkers for the days we were closed in the winter. Mike Pickering brought his kids, Moses and Enola on a fair number of these adventures which really added to the fun. I invited Tracy Marche, Jake and Gillie Francis on a crazy frozen road ride out of Middlegate, NV. Our time warming in the bar was the best. Of course there were adventures with Dean Magnuson, but unfortunately he has moved to the Portland, OR area with the promise of it being temporary. Of course there were rides and even a S24O with Raymond Eliot. Wildlife biologist and longtime friend, Pete Risler, took me on an adventure to Little High Rock Canyon Wilderness. My mountain bike and road riding partner over the last 5 years, Brandon Anderson, decided he wanted to get into the desert riding game. During the last three months of ’17 we logged some incredible miles and explored some new areas. I organized a ride with local photographer/artist Chris Carnel. My newest riding partner is Brandi Withers, a new to northern Nevada cyclist. She is getting an eye-full and ear-full about the northern Nevada landscape. I feel the community of backroad explorers is growing and social media is getting us connected. The next step is getting connected on the road. I am excited for new collaborations in 2018.
The weather this year definitely impacted my riding. 2017 was the wettest and snowiest on record followed by the record hottest, smashing the record number of days over 90 degrees. Smoke from fires near and far added to the difficulty to ride. The impact also was seen in the terrain. Erosion and flooding was severe in most places I rode. The scars from fire season are heart wrenching as our wildlands are so slow to recover. My hat comes off to the land managers who have worked so hard to mitigate the damage we saw this year.
In reviewing my rides of the year on Garmin I could see the weather’s impact on the total number of rides. But in review I would say there was quality over quantity. There were a few outings not included in this space because there were outside the scope of Bikepacking Northern Nevada. I took a family vacation to the Grand Canyon. While staying in Williams, AZ I explored a couple of dirt roads in the Kaibab National Forest. I felt that area was ripe for bikepacking and exploration. Brandon Anderson and I did a three day road riding odyssey using Silver Creek Campground off Hwy 4 near Markleeville, CA as a base camp. Again my thoughts lead to the possibilities for bikepacking with a gravel bike to take advantage of paved and unpaved roads through the less popular parts of the Sierra.
Some of the highlighted routes for 2017 were:
- Brunswick Canyon, Pine Nut Mountains
- Pah Rah Range North
- Little High Rock Canyon
- Winnamucca Lake Loop
- Sunrise Pass Loop, Pine Nut Mountains
- Soldier Meadows Rd
- Pine Grove Loop, Pine Grove Hills
- Dry Valley Rim WSA
In looking at the big picture I need to start driving further to fill the the empty spots on the map. I need to explore the roads around Yerington to Walker Lake. As the crow flies, a sweeping arc from 50-100 miles from Reno would give me more than enough opportunities to fill 2018. Nevada towns such as Winnemucca, Battle Mountain and Austin, NV are great half-way-across the state destinations for starting rides. I am excited!
One plan for 2018 will be to host a Rendezvous for bikepackers, fat bikers, gravel grinders, and anyone interested in exploring Nevada’s backroads by bike. The venue will be BLM’s Dry Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area. The trails in that area are along the Dry Valley Rim Wilderness Area and the Smoke Creek Desert. Participants will be encouraged to spend the night or just come out and explore for the day. While the planning is in its infancy I am shooting for the first weekend in April, 6-8.