The Corral Loop at South Lake Tahoe

Last weekend we got up to South Lake Tahoe to check out some of the trails they’ve been building up there. To get to the trailhead, we headed south on Pioneer Trail road just past the Casinos, then east on Oneidas Street near Meyers. We followed Oneidas Street until it became a narrow Forest Service road known as Fountain Place Road. We parked just past the creek crossing at a trailhead parking area.

Corral Loop Area
At the trailhead

To get started, we rode up the paved Fountain Place Road. We didn’t see any other people pedaling up the road. All the other bikes we saw were in the back of trucks being shuttled to the top. Even though the road is fairly easy climbing, it looked like most people’s bikes were downhill biased. Eventually we reached the top of the Corral Trail and another parking area.

Corral Loop Area
Climbing Fountain Place Road

We weren’t ready to descend yet, but wanted to get off the road and onto some dirt. We decided to try climbing the Armstrong Connector Trail. It started off nice and easy with some long sweeping turns, but then started to climb over a lot of rocks that were much easier approached in a downhill direction. We kept going for a while, but then decided to turn around. It was definitely getting more technical than I wanted for my son and his new bike. We would have been better off keeping on the paved road to get to the top of the Armstrong Connector.

Corral Loop Area
Corral Trailhead

Corral Loop Area
Enjoying the view on the Armstrong Connector Trail

Corral Loop Area
Armstrong Connector Trail

Corral Loop Area
Negotiating a rocky corner on the Connector Trail

Corral Loop Area
Finishing the Connector Trail

We had some fun descending the connector, only having to walk over a few of the biggest rocks. Eventually we were back at the top of the Corral Trail. The Corral Trail immediately splits, and we took a right onto the Sidewinder Trail. This trail is named for the many twists and turns it makes as it snakes down the hill. Instead of methodically switchbacking down the hill as many trails do, there is an overabundance of turns on this run. Their purpose is purely for amusement, and keep the rider turning and guessing which way the trail is going to go next. It was a blast!

Corral Loop Area
One of the many turns of the Sidewinder Trail

Corral Loop Area
Finishing Sidewinder

We merged with the Corral Trail after finishing Sidewinder. The Corral Trail in this section is built full of jumps and big berms that give it a BMX/Pump Track feel. It was easy to see why so many people were shuttling up the hill with long travel bikes. The jumps are primarily tabletops with mellow take-offs, so even the novice can get a little air without too much fear of crashing. At one section, the trail split in two. Tabletops on the left, and a bobsled looking set of turns to the right. We couldn’t make up our minds, so went down the jumps, then pedaled back up and did the turns! All along the way we passed rideable features like big rocks and logs. It wasn’t until I passed them and looked back that I decided I could actually ride some of them. There is a lot of variety on this trail, with many challenges to keep you coming back to test your skills.

Corral Loop Area
Coming back up the Corral Trail to try an alternate route

I got some photos of my son going through the berms, then sped off to chase him down. I was starting to think he got way ahead of me, when I came around a shady corner to find him and the bike on the ground and a lone shoe on the other side of the trail. Someone was having a little too much fun and got crooked off the jump it appeared. We dusted him off and finished the trail.

Corral Loop Area
Fun berms on the Corral Trail

At the bottom of the Corral Trail, we explored the Railroad Grade Trail. As its name suggests, it’s a mellow trail with a gentle grade. We explored it a little ways, then turned around and headed back to the trailhead. Its a great beginner trail, or a good trail to connect to other area trails.

Corral Loop Area
Exploring the Railroad Grade Trail

These are some FUN trails. Although it’s possible to ride up these lower trails, they’re definitely designed with the downhill direction in mind. Climbing Fountain Place road is definitely the better option to make a loop. Had we not wasted energy on the Armstrong Connector Trail climb, we may have done another loop on the Corral Trail. I’m looking forward to trying these trails again, hitting the sections we missed, and explore the upper trails that connect Star Lake, the Tahoe Rim Trail, and Monument Pass.

For more information, see the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association’s trails page.

Buckland’s Station Loop

Just south of Silver Springs is Buckland’s Station, an old two story house built in 1870 by Samuel Buckland from the dismantled materials from Fort Churchill. This site was once a Pony Express stop, supply center for early pioneers and nearby Fort Churchill, and a former hotel. Today it’s a quiet old building in a park setting under the cottonwoods along the Carson River. I had a free afternoon recently, and decided to make the station my trailhead for an exploration loop around the mountains. My ride would take me up into the desolate desert mountains, along the railroad through Adrian Valley, through an old 1860s Army fort, and down the Carson River.

Buckland's Station Loop
Starting the ride at Buckland’s Station

I parked at Buckland’s Station, just north of the Carson River bridge on Alt 95 south of Silver Springs. To start the ride, I headed south across the bridge. It looks wide enough, but the 18 wheelers travel this route at full speed. The sound they make over the bridge as they pass you at 65 mph is a bit unnerving. I didn’t waste any time getting across, only glancing down at the now dry Carson River bed underneath.

Buckland's Station Loop
Buckland’s Station

Buckland's Station Loop
The mighty Carson River

Shortly after the bridge, there’s an old section of abandoned highway just past the campground sign. It’s a good way to get off the road for a bit of relaxed climbing. It rejoins the highway again after the curve, but the turnoff to the dirt road isn’t far ahead.

Buckland's Station Loop
Approaching the old abandoned highway cutoff

Buckland's Station Loop
Riding the abandoned highway

Buckland's Station Loop
Turning off Alt 95 onto the dirt road

After a short stretch of riding the shoulder of Alt 95, there is a gated dirt road that takes off on the west side of the road. After closing the gate behind me, I rode southwest along the road to a mining area. At first glance upon reaching the mine, it appears there is broken glass everywhere. The sparkling, though, is actually coming from all the selenite crystals that cover the ground in this area.

Buckland's Station Loop
Selenite Crystals

Continuing through the mining area, there is some fun terrain to ride through the open pits. After exiting the pit on the far side, I reached the highest point of ride. It was time for some downhill to the valley below.

Buckland's Station Loop
Riding through the mining area

Buckland's Station Loop
Fun terrain!

Buckland's Station Loop
Leaving the pits

Buckland's Station Loop
Heading down the canyon

At the bottom of the canyon I reached the cottonwood lined railroad tracks in Adrian Valley. The tracks run the length of this quiet valley, and there are long views to the north and south. According to the map, this spot is marked “Churchill (Site)”, although there are no visible ruins in the tall brush. Further to the south is Churchill Station Spring and Churchill Narrows. It looked fun to explore in that direction, but I pedaled on to the north towards the Carson River. I had to go around a few mud puddles, but I don’t remember any recent rains. It was strange for such a dry area.

Buckland's Station Loop
Looking south towards the Churchill Narrows

Buckland's Station Loop
North towards the Carson River

Buckland's Station Loop
Flat and easy terrain

Soon I reached an intersection. I could continue north along the tracks, or head east up into the mountains. Heading east over the low pass is the quick way back, but I wanted to see the river trails.

Buckland's Station Loop
Optional right-hand turn to climb over the mountain

Buckland's Station Loop
Looking back at Adrian Valley

Buckland's Station Loop
Almost to the river

I finally reached the bridge where the railroad tracks cross the Carson River. There were no warning signs, and the grating bordering the tracks seemed to indicate it was safe to cross. It’s a fairly short span with a good line of sight, but I hurried across nonetheless.

Buckland's Station Loop
The Bridge

Buckland's Station Loop
Exploring the river trails

After crossing the tracks, I was near the group area and campground of Fort Churchill State Park. When I reached an irrigation ditch embankment, I jumped onto a little path called the Stewart Trail, which to my pleasure was OK for bikes. I took a short loop through the cottonwoods, then took a water break at the group picnic area.

Buckland's Station Loop
Rest time

Refreshed, I headed over to the ruins of Fort Churchill. Built in 1861 to provide protection for early settlers and the Pony Express, Fort Churchill was once an active U.S. Army fort. It was abandoned nine years later, but the ruins are still standing today. Again, I was happy to see that bicycles are allowed on the fort trail, as long as they stay on the path and away from the ruins. I made a slow tour through the old buildings, stopping for vistas and photos.

Fort Churchill
Tour through the ruins

Buckland's Station Loop
Tour through the ruins

At this point in the ride, I was probably an easy 10 minutes from Buckland’s Station on the pavement. I thought it might be more adventurous, though, to cross back over the river and find the dirt roads I saw on the map I had studied earlier in the day. This decision definitely added some adventure to the ride, a flat tire, some scraped up legs, and easily a good hour.

Buckland's Station Loop
Flat repair

I followed a trail back to the bridge, but came to a dead end at a tree that I normally associate with thorns. I stopped and picked a different direction. As I got closer to the bridge, I noticed my front tire was deflating. I’m not certain if I hit a thorn or something sharp near the tracks. My tire was going flat quickly, though, so I wasn’t riding anywhere until I fixed it.

Buckland's Station Loop
The leaves are just starting to change

Walking my bike back over the bridge and over a small hill, I picked a work area on a sandy cliff above the south bank with a good view of the bridge and cottonwoods. I went to work changing my flat tube, and enjoyed the rest time in the shade. After I was up and rolling again, it was time to pick a direction of travel. Had I known the area better, the correct way would’ve been to go less than 40 yards through the brush to the southeast to pick up a good trail. But since the river was nearly dried up, I decided it would be more fun to ride the river bed.

Buckland's Station Loop
Ridable, but not real fun

I climbed down a steep river embankment, then rode through the slimy remains of the river. The sandy river bed was soft and full of cattle hoof prints. I was able to ride most of it with my fat tires, but it was slow going and not a lot of fun. I decided to abandon my plan when I got bored of the bumps, and headed to the south bank to find a road. There’s almost always a road near river banks, so I thought my chances were good.

Buckland's Station Loop
Bad route finding

As it turns out, I picked the widest stretch of brush to cross. I pushed my bike through the tall and tightly spaced brush, looking for a way through. I was thankful for my long sleeved shirt, but my legs were taking a beating. I kept going, thinking the road had to be near, and I finally reached the point where it was too far to go back anyhow.

Buckland's Station Loop
Back on a trail!

I finally reached the dirt road, very happy to be able to ride again! It would now be an easy ride back to Buckland’s Station. Along the way I passed a skinny young horse that seemed to be watching the gate I had to pass through. I said hello as I passed by, and kept following the road east.

Buckland's Station Loop
Trail greeter

Buckland's Station Loop
Almost back

Buckland's Station Loop
Time to load up

I finally reached the Highway again, just to the south of the bridge. Not seeing any big trucks on the horizon, I hurried across back to Buckland’s station and the end of the ride.

Buckland's Station Loop
The route

This was a fun loop with lots of opportunities for exploration. Even with drive time from Carson City, I still got it done in an afternoon. Even though I did this ride on my Fat Bike, it wasn’t so sandy that a regular mountain bike would have too much trouble (just stay out of the river bed!). There isn’t too much elevation gain, and it’s easy pedaling to get to the top. Rockhounders will enjoy the selenite crystals at the mine, and geocachers can find the many hidden caches along the route. Everyone will enjoy the ruins and history of Fort Churchill. There isn’t much shade in this area, and I was thankful to have my sun shirt and extra water on the ride. It still gets a bit warm out there, even in the Fall.

More photos of this ride here on Flickr.

Mountain Biking to Virginia City

Now that Autumn has arrived, it’s a great time to explore the areas east of Carson City. These trails and back roads can be impassable in the winter, muddy in the Spring, and too hot during the Summer. This time of year, though, the dry conditions and mild temperatures make it the perfect time to go. One of our favorite Fall rides is the off-road route up to Virginia City via the American Flat Toll Road. With the area’s fun and lively Old West history, this ride has started to become an annual event.

Carson City to Virginia City
Leaving Carson City

We met up at 9:00 AM at Centennial Park, and it had just warmed up enough to shed the jackets. We were treated to blue skies and plenty of sunshine, much better than last year when we started the ride in hazy smoke from the forest fires in California. Some of us had done the ride before, and for others it was the first time. And a few of us had never even met before. Nothing builds camaraderie like an outdoor adventure, though, and we’d all be friends by the end of the ride.

Carson City to Virginia City
Headed for Mound House

Leaving the back parking lot of Centennial Park, we started up the rocky, bumpy climb. Having just finished my coffee, it wasn’t the best way to begin the ride. At least this section is over quickly. The trail smoothed out for a relaxing climb toward Mound House, and we watched a group of paragliders take flight from a high point on McClellan Peak, landing in a flat spot near our trail.

Carson City to Virginia City
On the outskirts of Mound House

Once over the hill, we descended to the railroad tracks near Mound House, and followed trails and roads paralleling the tracks on the uphill side until we reached the water tower at the base of the American Flat Toll Road. Although just another dirt road now, these early toll roads were once profitable for the owners in the mid 1800s. Tolls of a few cents were collected for wagons, livestock, buggies, and horsemen on their way between Dayton, Virginia City, and Carson City.

Carson City to Virginia City
Preparing to climb American Flat Toll Road

The width of the toll road allowed for side-by-side riding and conversation. Talking bikes and trails always makes the climb go by easier. A few wild horses jumped across the road as we climbed, coming a little too close to a couple of the riders for a good startle! We regrouped at the top of the climb, where American Flat and Gold Hill were visible to the north.

Carson City to Virginia City
Arriving at American Flat

On our descent to American Flat, we paused at the railroad crossing. Down the tracks, we could see smoke billowing up from behind the hill. Just as we started to wonder if the train was coming or going, we began to hear the chugging of the steam engine. The train finally came into view, the rumbling grew louder, and the engineer blasted the whistle as he passed us. Dozens of passengers waved to us out the windows. It was a very powerful and awesome experience, and brought to mind many an old country song.

Carson City to Virginia City
The Virginia and Truckee Railroad – Can you hear the whistle blowing?

To cross American Flat, we descended through the valley past the United Comstock Merger Mill. Once described as the largest concrete mill in the United States, the mill was built in 1922 to process local gold and silver ore utilizing cyanide vat leaching. The mill only operated for six years, and was then abandoned. The mill’s machinery was dismantled and sold as salvage over the years, leaving only the eerie concrete walls and tunnels behind. The buildings are now closed to the public due to safety reasons, but you can still ride through the area on your way to Gold Hill.

Carson City to Virginia City
Passing by the United Comstock Merger Mill

Carson City to Virginia City
Nearing Gold Hill

We climbed up out of American Flat to the mine road that goes down to Gold Hill. This is the widest dirt road of the ride, but it’s best to keep to the right to stay out of the way of the frequent mining trucks that use the road. One of the mine workers was even nice enough to get on the radio to let everyone know we’d be coming down the road! The descent to Gold Hill is short lived, and then the steep climb up Route 342 begins, the first paved section of the ride.

Carson City to Virginia City
The steep climb up Gold Hill

Climbing up Gold Hill is the steepest part of the ride. We grinded up the grade, passing a few tempting signs advertising cold beer. Also along the road is the historic Gold Hill Hotel, the oldest, still existing hotel in Nevada. Claimed to be haunted by some, the Gold Hill Hotel has appeared on ghost hunter TV shows. We saw no paranormal activity on this day. Gold Hill’s population hovers around 200 people today, but once boasted a few thousand people back in the 70s. The 1870s, that is…

Carson City to Virginia City
RXR and a much needed rest

Thankfully, the gates closed as we approached the railroad crossing, and we were forced to stop and wait for the train. The short break gave me just enough strength to get to Homestead Road, the first right hand turn after crossing the tracks. This little side road follows the contour of the hill, and bypasses the remaining steep climb to the summit. From here, it’s just an easy ride over to the truck route (Route 341) and into Virginia City.

Carson City to Virginia City
Entering Virginia City

Riding into Virginia City is always exciting. The big climb is over, good food and drink await, and you never know what you’re going to see. On this day, custom motorcycles lined the streets, a banjo player was playing over a PA system, mobs of people roamed the boardwalk sidewalks, and the center of town was blocked off for outhouse races! There was activity everywhere.

Carson City to Virginia City
Well deserved beer and pizza at the Red Dog Saloon

As is customary, we headed to the north side of town to the Red Dog Saloon. There’s always good beer on tap here, and the pizzas are excellent. We lined up the bikes on the sidewalk outside the saloon, then went in for a couple rounds of drinks and two pizzas. Calories are your friend on this ride.

Carson City to Virginia City
Starting the journey home

After a relaxing lunch, we talked to a few motorcyclists, then headed back to main street to catch the outhouse races. The outhouses, mounted on big tricycles, had to drag race up the hill. The rider had help though, with a team of people running behind and pushing. It was crazy how fast these things moved up the street! When the racers took a break, we slowly worked our way through the crowd on our way to the south end of town. Bicycles really are a great way to get around the crowded streets of Virginia City.

Carson City to Virginia City
A busy Main Street

Carson City to Virginia City
Outhouse Races!

Carson City to Virginia City
A quick Pit Stop before the descent

Carson City to Virginia City
Top of Gold Hill

When we got to the top of Gold Hill, it was time for a fast road descent. The steep and twisty turns that we avoided on the way up, known as Greiner’s Bend, were a blast going down. Near the top, there was a car on my tail. By the time I hit the railroad tracks below, the car was no longer visible. I decided to slow down at that point. Especially since we saw horses indiscriminately crossing the road on the way up, and I had a turn onto a dirt road quickly approaching.

Carson City to Virginia City
About to descend the toll road

Rather than drop down to the the old mill site, we crossed American Flat near the middle so that we lost less elevation. It’s mostly an easy ride across, with only a steep section near the end to get up to the railroad crossing and top of the toll road. Once across American Flat, it was a nice long downhill on the toll road, followed by fun singletrack all the way to the end.

Carson City to Virginia City
Final descent to Centennial Park

Carson City to Virginia City
Wild Horses on the trail

Just before we got back to the trailhead, the trail took us between a few wild horses. They posed for a photo, then snorted as I cautiously passed by. It was a great ending to the Wild West ride, almost like the horses were saying, “Y’all come back now, ya hear?”. After I rest up, I reckon I will!

Fat Biking at Washoe Lake State Park

I’ve had the Fat Bike bug ever since we tested the Salsa Mukluks in Sand Canyon last year. I finally broke down and added a Surly Pugsley to my collection, a fat bike with low pressure, 4″ wide tires. I spent about a week riding my usual trails, but then decided it was time to get the bike out in a place that the bike was really designed for. With its beaches and dunes, I thought Washoe Lake State Park might be fun to try after a weekend of rain.

Riding the Pugsley at Washoe Lake State Park
Arriving at the Dunes

I started my ride near the boat launch area of Washoe Lake State Park on the northeast side of the lake. This area is popular with horseback riders, and there are equestrian trails everywhere. I picked the first trail I came to, and just followed it to see where it went. The ride began on a firm dirt road, and the numerous hoof prints made for one rough ride. Soon, though, the trail opened out onto the dunes. The soft sand was slow going, but I was pedaling over it. The fat tires were doing a great job keeping me up on top of the sand. As soon as the dune sloped down to the beach, I picked up momentum and cruised easily down to the lake shore below.

Riding the Pugsley at Washoe Lake State Park
Cruising on the beach

As soon as I hit the wet sand of the lake shore, it was easy pedaling. Which way to go? To the south, miles of open beach. To the north, the north shore of the lake, high grass and trees. I headed north to explore an area I had never been, avoiding patches of mud and the occasional beached carp.

Riding the Pugsley at Washoe Lake State Park
Big carp run aground

After a while of exploring, I was curious as to where in the valley I was at. The cars along HWY 395 were clearly visible. I brought up Google maps on my phone, and it indicated I was out in the middle of the lake! The closest water was several hundred yards to the south, though. Having not lost any real elevation as I traveled west, I got a good feel for just how shallow Washoe Lake is. It sure explained why there were so many fish stuck along the shore.

Riding the Pugsley at Washoe Lake State Park
Dry lake bed

After exploring the dry lake bed, I headed back south to the boat ramp. The water was way out from the launch. There would be no boating on this day. I used the speed of the boat ramp to fling the mud off my tires, and headed back down to the shoreline.

Riding the Pugsley at Washoe Lake State Park
On the dock of the boat ramp

Riding the Pugsley at Washoe Lake State Park
Leaving tracks

Riding the Pugsley at Washoe Lake State Park
Following the horses

As I was riding down the beach, I decided to experiment with tire pressure. I dropped the pressure in both tires down a little to 7 psi to increase the tires’ footprint for better flotation. Just a little more or less air pressure in these tires makes a big difference! After heading south along the beach for awhile, I crossed the dunes and explored the many trails to the east. The ground is firmer over there, and allowed for some faster speeds. Occasionally, the trail would take me through the dunes again. Hoof prints and hills made it slow going at times, but there was very little I couldn’t ride. Eventually the rain started to quicken, so I reluctantly navigated back to the trailhead.

Riding the Pugsley at Washoe Lake State Park
Back on the dunes

Washoe Lake State Park is a fun place to explore on fat bikes! All the trails and open beach allow for lots of possibilities. I think it’ll be even better this winter when there is a mix of snow and frozen sand. I didn’t pick up any of the usual goat head thorns that have been horrible this year, but I did manage to run over a small branch covered in one-inch spines near the end of my ride. I needed pliers to pull out one of the spines when I got home! Be mindful of what you run over when out on these trails.

When riding at Washoe Lake State Park, please note that the dunes are extremely sensitive to human intrusion. Plant root systems that stabilize the dunes can be destroyed from excessive traffic, so tread lightly and stay on established trails and pathways!

More info on the Washoe Lake State Park website.

Giant Bicycles Demo Report

Last weekend we attended the Giant Bicycles Demo up at Spooner Lake State Park hosted by Bike Habitat. Giant and Liv (Giant’s women’s line) had a wide variety of 2015 model year bikes to try out, both mountain and road machines. Here’s a look at what we saw.

Giant Bikes Demo Day
Giant Demo Bikes

We browsed the selection of mountain bikes at the Giant tent and settled on a couple Trances and the new Stance. While they were getting the bikes all setup for us, we browsed the rest of the bikes and learned about all the new technology. The women’s line was quite extensive as well. There was a bike for almost every type of rider and pocket book.

Giant Bikes Demo Day
Liv – The ladies’ side

My son and I went with the Trance Advanced 27.5 1. Notable features of this high end model are the 27.5″ wheelset (Giant’s current off-road standard), 1×11 (10-42) drivetrain, superlight advanced-grade composite (carbon fiber) mainframe with 5.5 inches of suspension travel, 120-140mm adjustable travel fork, lightweight composite wheel system, and an adjust on-the-fly seatpost (seat height can be adjusted while riding via a lever on the handlebars). It’s a bike you can ride fast all day over a wide variety of terrain. With a price tag of $5,575, it was a real treat to get to take this bike out.

Giant Bikes Demo Day
2015 Trance Advanced 27.5 1

The other bike we took out was the Stance 27.5 1. It’s fairly similar in geometry to the Trance, but made for the average trail rider with a much more affordable parts package. This particular model retails for $1,875, but there is a $1,450 version of the bike as well. Notable features of the Stance were the 27.5″ wheelset, aluminum frame with 4.7 inches of suspension travel, 120mm travel fork, and a 2×10 drivetrain. I think it’s a great parts package for the price.

Giant Bikes Demo Day
2015 Stance 27.5 1

The Test Ride

For the test ride, we did a lap around Spooner Lake, then headed up to Spencer’s Cabin and back. Although this route is what you’d call beginner level without much to challenge these bikes, we still encountered a variety of terrain: sand, hard pack, rocks and roots, bridges with step-ups and drops, and a few quick climbs and descents. It was enough to test the technology and get a feel for the bikes’ personalities.

Giant Bikes Demo Day
Easy to get the wheel up on the Trance

As you’d expect, the lightweight Trance was very responsive and plush. It had me looking for any root or rock to jump off. The big 27.5″ wheels felt good getting up and over the obstacles, and getting the lightweight front end up was a snap. I was also impressed with the adjust on the fly seatpost. I’ve never really considered one, but it worked so simple. It’s easy to imagine tackling some of the trickier challenges knowing you wouldn’t have to stop riding to adjust your seat. Also in the simpler category was the 1×11 drive train. With only 1 shifter on the handlebars, there’s no worrying which chainring you need to be in. The wide-ratio 10-42 rear cassette paired with the 32 tooth front chainring should be able to handle most any climb or descent.

Giant Bikes Demo Day
On the Stance

I was eager to see how the more affordable Stance compared, so we swapped bikes along the loop. I immediately noticed the front end of the bike was a bit heavier, but I wasn’t far down the trail when my body adjusted to the Stance’s different personality. It was equally at home on the smooth and twisty lake shore trail, and a lot of fun to ride. Although slightly more complicated than the Trance, the 2×10 drivetrain on the Stance worked great. Definitely less fiddling with the shifters than with the triple chainrings I’ve been riding for more than two decades.

Giant Bikes Demo Day
On the Trance

Giant Bikes Demo Day
Single Chainring of the 1×11 system

Giant Bikes Demo Day
11 Speed Cassette, 10-42 range

We headed back to the demo tents, and reluctantly returned the bikes. It was a shame we didn’t have some more challenging terrain to ride these bikes on. I’ve been riding 29ers for several years now, and this was my first time on 27.5″ wheels. They definitely rolled fast and made getting over the obstacles easy. They may not have floated over the sand as easily as a bigger wheel, but this may have been due to over-inflated tires (demo bikes tend to have more air pressure than I’m used to for protecting the rims from errant riders). While the high-end trance is more bike than I can afford, it sure was nice to get to ride it and see where the technology is going. The cutting-edge technology on this bike will eventually trickle down to more affordable models. The Stance, on the other hand, is in the price range that many serious riders can handle. It’d make a great bike for most of the terrain in this area.

Giant Bikes Demo Day
Anthem Advanced 

We didn’t try any of the other bikes available, but they were all beautiful. I really liked the paint schemes on all the bikes. If you’re interested in more info on the bikes we rode and the other bikes that were available, visit Giant’s website. If you’re in the Carson City area, visit the Bike Habitat to see some of these bikes in person.

Giant Bikes Demo Day
Reign

Giant Bikes Demo Day
More from Liv

Did you attend the demo event? Which bikes did you ride? What was your favorite?

Kings Canyon to Ash Canyon Trail Update

My son and I joined the Muscle Powered Trail Crew over the weekend to work on the Kings Canyon to Ash Canyon Trail. The Bike Smith hosted this particular work day, and many of the guys from the shop were there to lend a hand. We arrived at the Kings Canyon trailhead at 9:00 AM where we received a safety talk, a hard hat, and trail tools to carry up to the work site. We worked about a mile up from the trailhead, so along our walk we got to see a lot of the completed trail work and were treated to fantastic views of the city below. Most of the trail has been cut at this point, so our teams concentrated on the finish work. Some sections had to be widened. Brush and stumps had to be cut back. There was rock work to be done to build nice wide switchbacks. Here’s a look at the trail and some of the work we did:

IMG_5921
Arriving at the work site

IMG_5923
A nice wooded section

IMG_5925
A section still under construction near a waterfall

IMG_5928
Removing small stumps and roots bordering the trail

IMG_5932
Checking on trail progress below

IMG_5936
Cutting back the brush

IMG_5940
Constructing a switchback

IMG_5941
A section of completed trail

IMG_5943
Crossing the steep hillside

IMG_5949
Moving lots of dirt

IMG_5946
Heading back to the trailhead

The crew worked until about 4:00 PM. We were pretty tired and covered in dirt. We also endured some smokey conditions at times from the fires in CA. We returned home with an appreciation for all the hard work of the trail builders, and anticipation that someday we’ll get to come back and ride our bikes on this amazing trail!

A cooperative effort with Muscle Powered volunteers, Carson City, and the U.S. Forest Service, the Kings Canyon to Ash Canyon Trail will be a non-motorized multi-use mountain bike trail. Trail grade is kept at a pitch to allow riders to climb comfortably in a low gear, and descend at a controlled pace that doesn’t require the rider to be on the brakes all the time. Switchbacks, water diversions, and other trail features are designed to be ridden, so the rider doesn’t have to get off the bike. Though the trail is designed with mountain bikes in mind, it will also be suitable for runners, hikers and equestrians. When completed, the trail will be seven miles long, and will connect the Ash Canyon trail system to Kings Canyon Road. Trail crews are still completing the finish work, and two bridges must be installed to protect the creeks before the trail is officially open. It won’t be long now though. What a great asset to Carson City this will be!

Blinky Man Bike Ride

This Saturday evening, June 14th, will be the 2nd annual Blinky Man cruiser ride, a costumed night time bike ride with lights! This fun social ride begins at 7:30PM, and visits some of Carson City’s favorite hangouts. At 8:30 PM, the sun goes down and all the lights go on.

Blinky Man Spring 2014

Meet up at Caterpillar’s Hookah Lounge between 6:30PM and 7:30 PM. Ride leaves at 7:30 PM. Other stops will include the Timbers Saloon, Jimmy G’s, The Westside Pour House, and the Tap Shack. Due to the destinations on this ride, this is a 21 and over event. Bring your ID!

Blinkyman Halloween

Looking for lights? Our local bike shops have a good selection of headlights, taillights, and other safety lights. For decorative lighting, people have had good luck at the LED Light store at the corner of Fairview and Roop (open Mon – Fri until 5:00PM), WalMart, and the craft stores. Plastic Zip-Ties, available at hardware stores, work good to secure the string of lights and battery packs to the bikes, and ensure they won’t interfere with pedaling, braking, and steering.

More info: Blinky Man on Facebook.