Rarely do I write about a ride I didn’t dream-up, plan, and execute. But this was all Jake Francis. Jake is a bee-guy, flower-guy, pollination ecologist, chemical ecologist, and behaviorist. He is one of the smartest scientists I have chatted with. He is a creative DIY-guy from the kitchen to the workshop. As a volunteer at the Reno Bike Project he is generous with his knowledge and enthusiasm of bike riding. So when he planned this local outing based off some of his exploring around his field sites I put my feet up and figured I would just show up for the ride. Jake did the responsible thing of sharing GPS files of the route but I didn’t even bother opening them. I packed up my kit and showed up at the rendezvous with Jake’s “coffee-outside” riding crew.
The planned route was to climb the local Peavine Peak via single-track and fire roads then descend into Dog Valley to our campsite. Then we would loop through Dog Valley to Verdi, have brunch, then pedal home. In general I had a good idea of the route but the link between Peavine Peak and Dog Valley introduced me to some new roads.
There is no easy way to climb Peavine by bike. I live at 4,500′, the summit is at 8,266′ and we turned off Peavine road at about 8,000′. The exposed climb took its toll on our group we had two turn back. But our merry band of four, Jake, Alan Kaplan, Stephen Lamke and I pushed on. Jake pointed out his field sites of wild flowers and native pollinators. Above 8,000′ the temperature with a breeze was comfortable.
The descent into Dog Valley was on all new-to-me roads. Some of the descents were steep and loose. There was no shame in walking to avoid a front wheel washout. Most curious was a grouse cruising on the road ahead. We got to watch it for minutes. Our final steep descent was at dusk so we decided we would camp at the next available spot.
It was a comfortable night in the trees under the stars. I appreciated we were a mile inside Nevada. We woke to coffee and light snacks before we continued on Jake’s route of new roads into Dog Valley. We had several creek crossings and rutted terrain, the results of our wet winters. Finally we popped out on familiar terrain in Dog Valley proper.
We looped through the valley which always catches me off guard by how much climbing there is. Then after a few more miles of terrain we made our final descent into Verdi. We brunched at Sasquatch Tavern & Grill before the last 10 miles home. All within 24 hours of leaving home.
What We Rode/ What We Carried
I kick myself for not being a better reporter of what we had as a group. The cumulative touring/outdoor experience of a group creates a special wisdom that cannot be understated. From a mechanical perspective the ride went off without a hitch. We rode a wide variety of bikes, from a carbon KHS fat bike, a veteran warhorse of a Surly Troll, a ripper of a SOMA Valhalla, to a Salsa Vaya. Alan brought some fantastic homemade date-coconut balls that I must make a staple of my ride pantry, though my first attempt to reproduce them didn’t go so well. There were some technical difficulties with the Platypus filter but as a group we had enough water to share. To be fair the Platypus system has had a long otherwise flawless record so still highly recommendable. Alan had used the Platypus Filter on the Continental Divide route with no issues but had not maintained it recently. Stephen was able to give some insight into Patagonia’s outerwear since we all were fans. The Nano and Micro Puffs were hashed out as well as Houdini vs Airshed ultralight shells. It is clear you will find the right combination of Patagonia outerwear with a little experimentation.
Alan was trying out the Revelate handle bar harness for the first time. He packed his sleeping bag, pad, and tent and carried the log with no complaints. I can second that endorsement as I have the same set up on my gravel bike and have carried the same. Again kicking myself for not taking the opportunity to have a gear shoot-out, we had 3 handlebar harnesses represented, I was using the Salsa Exp Anything Cradle, Jake was using the Blackburn Outpost Elite Handlebar Roll and Alan the Revelate Designs Sweet Roll. All three performed equally well on this trip. I will have to do a more critical review on a future trip.
By the Numbers
Our outbound ride was a little over 20 miles with about 4,000′ of climbing. The return trip was 28 miles with 2,800′ of climbing. I often get requests for one to two night overnights from Reno, and this route is at the top of my list. Jake’s final impressions were everyone’s spirits were high in spite of the rough jeep roads and hike-a-bike is way more fun with good friends. No truer words spoke.