2021 ended with a super fun winter tour going into a Good Night 2021 S24O back in Reno. How do you top an ending like that? While we chase superlatives that best past experience, hopefully the chase for bigger, better, and more never gets in the way of appreciating the experience. At the same time I don’t want the bad things that happened this year to overshadow all the good. While some of the biggest losses hit our local bikepacking community as well as personal losses and setbacks for individuals in our community there is much to celebrate. I hope it doesn’t sound cliché but I am still living in COVID time warp. Looking back over the year, I find myself asking, was the trip to Moab only this year? I thought it was two years ago, or further! There in lies the value of the year in review. I used ride logs, Google Photos, ride calendars, blog posts, and Facebook events to remind me of all the great rides with friends this year. I tried to follow the theme Friends and Food when selecting the highlight photos.
To some, maybe everything I write about is micro-adventure. Fair enough. How about nano-adventure? This year I was particularly inspired by Alastair Humphreys mission to add more adventure into everyone’s life. As a result I did a handful of solo S24O’s and hosted a handful of group S24O’s. While in my mind it was intended to be a regular thing it got me out for a few more nights under the stars, and inspired others to do the same.
The other micro-adventuring thing to do was Coffee Outside. While not a new concept, there has been a resurgence, thanks to Path-Less-Pedaled’s Coffee Outside Map. I co-founded a local club with Sarah Jane Smith (Mt Rose Alchemy and RAR-Reno) and it has become a self-sustaining group. They host a weekly meet-up, usually at a county park, for coffee and snacks. The group has a local coffee sponsor, Forged Coffee Roaster, and some super talented bakers who share delicious goods.
Day rides are another great micro-adventure. When does “just a ride” become an adventure? A tour? Is it location, somewhere remote, hard to get to? Is it that it requires navigation, is it unfamiliar, that there is a level of uncertainty in success? Does the ride need a theme in the route or destination, beyond just a sustained heart rate, or technical challenge? Or is it an attitude, a mindset of the group or individual? All of these things come together for me in riding for adventure. Four day rides really stood out for me this year:
- Nightingale Mountains Gravel Ride
- Lucky Boy Mine Gravel Ride
- Desert Creek to Lobdell Lake
- Sardine Peak Fire Lookout – All Roads
The first two were group rides. The group brings a little something for everyone, a different pace, a variety of bikes, a variety of conversation, and a variety of criteria for a successful trip. Group rides are rides with friends. Desert Creek was floor to ceiling and back again. This ride has been on my to do list the longest, and the area is one I am most familiar with. A portion of this ride was the bikefishing overnight I led in 2021. Still an all-time favorite trip. For this adventure I selected a particular partner, there was going to be a ton of climbing, uncertain navigation, an unimaginable number of creek crossings. For trips like these I have my short list potential companions. Marc Pfister was able and willing. Sardine Peak recently got exposure as a route featured in BIKEPACKING.com. From Reno it is a great day ride using popular bike routes to Verdi, then gravel roads to Stampede Reservoir and beyond. I went for the fall colors and no doubt it will be a hot destination for 3-seasons, it may even see winter traffic.
The overnight, weekend trip, is the next level of micro-adventure. Two days of travel will include getting to a designated meeting point, biking to the campsite, then reversing the steps to get home in time to go back to work. Sometimes this means leaving directly from work on Friday and car camping at the start. Any way you slice it, I do not take for granted the investment in time and effort people make to join me on these trips. My favorite three were:
The Marlette trip came courtesy of Mark Yakushev. After posing the question to BurritoPackingNV, what would you like to do this year, Mark came back with a winter camping trip on snow. Since he was familiar with fat biking around Marlette Lake he planned the trip and we pulled it off despite the fresh snow that came in days before our trip. There were four of us on the trip and the cumulative knowledge as well as reflections on less than perfect choices for snow camping really made for a great trip. For Adventure Cycling’s Bike Travel Weekend I wanted to do a big route. So I came up with a loop around western half of the Black Rock Desert High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area. About half of the 180 mile weekend was on new-to-me dirt roads. My cognitive map was extended and now I am ready to push on to the Oregon boarder. Then there was Rides with Friends (Friends of Black Rock High Rock) #4 Around the Calico Mountains Wilderness. We were a group of six that tackled the steep slopes and threatening weather in order to circumnavigate a wilderness, cross a mountain range with limited roads, traverse drainages packed with wildflowers, enjoy the solitude of the Black Rock Desert to canyonlands, and share laughs and struggles with friends old and new. It was a honor that Mark Y’s brother Max Iakouchev came all the way from London to participate in this trip.
There were a couple of trips not in Nevada. The big one was Moab UT’s White Rim Trail. I am hugely thankful for Christine Anderson for organizing this trip to a world famous bikepacking destination. She brought together 5 riders and 2 SAG drivers, organized the permits and planned the best campsites on the route! The drivers and two of the riders were new friends, one rider I had been friends with for years but never ridden with, and Christine I have known for a dozen years and she has gone on 6 or more of my trips. The landscapes we rode through were magnificent, no wonder the White Rim is world class. The 100 mile loop was spread over 3 days, combined with SAG meant every rider regardless of experience got to have the greatest time ever. One member of the group had personal best metrics day after day.
My other favorite not in Nevada trip was the loop around Mt. Shasta. This ride has been on my radar 25+ years! Only by chance I rediscovered it. I reproduced the route in Ride with GPS. Almost instantly I was answering questions about it from a rider from Washington State. Within a week we had both ridden it independently. The ride inspired me to look into the grim effects of climate change on the future of local glaciers. In doing so I learned the washed out roads I crossed were not the effects of thunderstorms but melting glaciers. Along the northern portion of the ride I passed through the burn scars from the wildfires between Weed and Shasta. Wildfires and disappearing glaciers are just two signs of climate change impacting the environment we value. Bikepacking can be a great tool for noticing change, forming an opinion, and inspiring stewardship.
Looking forward to 2023 I plan on doing more of the same. I am stepping down from the Reno Bike Project to focus more of my energy on promoting bike touring in Nevada. I appreciate all the support I have gotten from this community of readers. My commitment to the most accurate and inspiring information on backroad adventures by bike is reaffirmed.
I will keep an updated calendar of rides I am planning with each post. Here are some of the bigger things on my calendar so far. There will be fill-ins for sure:
Jan 9-15 Illipah-Hamilton Loop + Fire and Ice Festival, Ely NV
Feb TBD Tonopah – Beatty Loop
April 15-16 Around Little High Rock Canyon Wilderness, Rides with Friends #1
May 26-18 Black Rock Rendezvous, Cassidy Mine-Hualapai Flat 1/2 Day Ride, Rides with Friends #2
June 3-4 TBD, Adventure Cycling Bike Travel Weekend
June 17-18 Bikefishing the Granite Range, Rides with Friends #3
July 15-16 Fox Peak Loop, Rides with Friends #4
Aug 12-13 Ride to Perseids Meteor Shower Campout, Rides with Friends #5
Sept 16-17 Massacre Ranch – Dark Skies, Rides with Friends #6
Sept 23-24 Adventure Cycling Bike Your Park, Rye Patch Reservoir-Black Rock Point Out-n-Back
Oct 14-15 Black Rock Point Micro-Playas, Rides with Friends #7
I will post events on Facebook and Instagram the weeks leading up to the events. Feel free to reach out with any questions.