Snowy Ride on the V&T Trail

The weather was a mess last weekend. First there was the tree-toppling wind. Then it rained all night, leaving everything a big mud puddle. Another storm was headed in Sunday, and it didn’t look hopeful for any outdoor recreation. When I woke up Sunday morning, it was snowing hard and sticking to the ground.

V&T Snow Ride

It wasn’t the type of day I wanted to be out on the road driving, but it looked perfect for an adventure on the fat bike, an expedition out into the snow, departing right from my driveway. I contacted a couple friends, and they were in too.

V&T Snow Ride

V&T Snow Ride

Two of us left my driveway, and we picked up another friend along the way. It was slushy at first, but the snow firmed up the closer we got to the mountains. We ran into two other friends with the same idea as us up on the V&T bike path. They were heading up the trails into Ash Canyon, while we decided on the gentler V&T grade to the north.

V&T Snow Ride

V&T Snow Ride

By the time we got to the dirt, the snow was sticking pretty good and starting to accumulate. There were giant mud puddles at the entrance to the trail. Some of us went around, while one rider went right through the middle. The fat knobbies made a pleasing crunching noise as we plowed our way through the snow. About the only thing that stopped us were a couple steep hills and slippery rocks hidden under the snow. We took turns up front breaking trail, since the leader was getting twice the workout with all the rolling resistance.

Snow ride on the V&T Trail

V&T Snow Ride

V&T Snow Ride

V&T Snow Ride

We stopped to catch our breath at the top. What would’ve been a quick and easy ride during the summer felt like it had been much more. The return trip took far less effort, thanks to the tracks we laid down and having gravity in our favor. We seemed to arrive at home at just the right time, the wet slushy snow starting to take a toll on our clothing. A warm fire and cold beverages awaited us at the end of what turned out to be a great ride. Being able to get out for some exercise during the stormy weekend sure boosted the spirits!

Riding the Carson River Trails

Something great is happening all around Carson City. All the little paths and trails that have been being built over the years are starting to join, transforming our little parks into a network of connecting trails. Thanks to a recently installed bridge between Empire Ranch and Riverview Park, it’s now possible to bike or hike most of the Carson River along the eastern edge of the city. You can now ride the Empire Ranch Trail, Riverview Park, Mexican Ditch Trail, and Silver Saddle Ranch, all with only one paved road crossing at Carson River Road!

Carson River Trail
Getting started at Morgan Mill Road

We recently rode from the Morgan Mill Road Trailhead to Mexican Dam and back, a total of about 13 miles with very little elevation gain. Trails like this are great for beginners, families, or just someone interested in a laid back cruise. The riparian habitat along this route offers plenty of wildlife viewing, while the expansive views of the snow-capped Carson Range provide the backdrop to the west. Here’s a look at each section of this ride.

Carson River Trail
East of the Empire Ranch Golf Course

We started the ride at the Morgan Mill Road trailhead, where there is a parking lot and restroom. The trail begins next to the boat ramp. Soon the well graded trail borders the golf course, with great views of the mountains over the greens and ponds. At the south end of the golf course is the new bridge, crossing the marshy creek and leading into Riverview Park.

Carson River Trail
The new bridge connecting Empire Ranch to Riverview Park

Riverview Park has its own network of trails, so there are a few options to consider to get to the south end of the park. We decided to keep left and ride along the riverbank under the big cottonwood trees. There are several park benches and river access points along the way. Other options would be to ride to the west end of the park to get to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Park, the Mexican Ditch Trail, or even the Linear Park trail which heads back into town.

Carson River Trail
Riverview Park

Carson River Trail
Riding along the Carson River

Carson River Trail
Heading west towards the Mexican Ditch Trail

Once at the south end of Riverview Park, the trail heads west to connect to the Mexican Ditch Trail. The steepest part of the entire route is here, a quick little uphill to a bridge that crosses the ditch. Once on the Mexican Ditch Trail, we headed south out of Riverview Park en route to the Silver Saddle Ranch. The trail in this section tends to be a little softer than previous sections, but is still manageable for most types of bikes. We saw several hawks patrolling the meadow here, but also saw a lot of domesticated animals like goats, sheep, and chickens right along the trail. You may even get to see a bald eagle if you’re lucky.

Carson River Trail
Helpful maps along the way

Carson River Trail
On the Mexican Ditch Trail

The Mexican Ditch trail eventually comes to Carson River Road. It’s just a quick ride up the pavement to the west to enter the Silver Saddle Ranch. Just keep an eye out for cars during the crossing, as the traffic can be pretty fast through here. Follow the loop road from the entrance down to the ranch house. Near the ranch house, there is a trail map and access to a number of trails. The surface on the trails throughout the park are more sandy than the previous trails, but are still easy to negotiate. Most (if not all) trail choices involve a gate, since there is active cattle grazing withing the park. Make sure to close any gates behind you. We chose the road leaving the ranch house to the east, and headed down to the river, watching the cows chase the hay truck as we pedaled by.

Carson River Trail
At the Silver Saddle Ranch

Carson River Trail
Silver Saddle Ranch House

Carson River Trail
One of the ranch roads

Carson River Trail
Feeding Time

We followed the river trail north until it rejoined the trail along the Mexican Ditch. The trail from here follows the ditch all the way to where it begins at Mexican Dam. The easy trail ends at the dam, but those looking for further exploration can follow a sandy foot path that continues along the river on the other side of the ditch.

Carson River Trail
Along the Mexican Ditch on the Silver Saddle trails

This same time last year, there was very little water in the stagnant river, and we were able to walk across the dam. This year, though, the water was full behind the dam, and water cascaded over the top. It’s a good sight to see.

Carson River Trail
A full river behind Mexican Dam

Carson River Trail
Water cascading over Mexican Dam

Carson River Trail
Parked at Mexican Dam

Carson River Trail
Winter colors along the river

On the return trip, we added variety to the ride by taking some of the trails we missed on the way out. At one point, we accidentally missed the turn to Riverview Park, and kept along the Mexican Ditch Trail to 5th Street where we were able to rejoin our intended route. There really is no wrong way to enjoy these trails, as long as you get to your intended destination.

Carson River Trail
Headed back

Carson River Trail
Our Route

The trails are a little soft and muddy at the moment, but they’ll firm up as the weather changes. We enjoyed this route a lot, though, and will definitely come back again when we’re looking for a more leisurely outing. It’s great to have this many miles of trail so close to town. With very little traffic to worry about and the easy grade, it makes a fun family trail. There is much to see and do along these river trails any season of the year, a tremendous recreational asset to the community!

Brockway Summit Snow Ride

A friend who writes for the RGJ’s Outdoor Page recently contacted me about doing a story on fat bikes. It’s part of his job to get out and sample all the outdoor activities this area has to offer. As you can imagine, he gets to try a lot of things and stays quite busy. I began researching good locations and finding him a bike to ride. Over the New Year’s weekend, we got up to Brockway Summit north of Lake Tahoe to join some other riders on the groomed snowmobile trails.

Brockway Summit Snow Ride

We arrived at 10:00 AM, and were able to park on the side of CA SR 267 right at the summit. A snowmobile tour operation stages out of this location, so the parking lot was full and busy. It appeared that the tours were just getting underway at the same time. We spoke with the tour operators, and they didn’t have a problem with us sharing the trail, as long as we stayed off to the side to allow the snowmobiles to pass freely.

Brockway Summit Snow Ride

We played leap frog with the snowmobiles at first, as they tried to get dozens of people organized and out on the trail. There was plenty of room on the groomed track, though, and the traffic wasn’t fast. It was also easy to hear the snowmobiles before we could see them.

Brockway Summit Snow Ride

The trail climbs uphill to the southwest, following an existing roadbed that passes south of the Northstar Ski resort. The grade is not as steep as the White Hill Loop road we did a few weeks ago, but there were a couple spots we had to walk. It was also above freezing this day, so the snow felt a bit soft, adding to the pedaling resistance. We started off with a big group, but quickly split up to let the faster riders go off at their own pace.

Brockway Summit Snow Ride

At the top of the first climb, we were treated to a great view of Lake Tahoe, the lake a pretty silver-blue in the subdued overcast light. Next we enjoyed a long downhill all the way to Sawmill Flat. A side trail took off downhill from here, made only by snowmobiles and not the big snowcat. Although we didn’t follow it too far down, this was definitely the funnest part of the ride. We seemed to stay on top of the snow better, had better control of the bikes, and it felt more like twisty singletrack than the wide road we had just turned off of.

Brockway Summit Snow Ride

Brockway Summit Snow Ride

The faster group made it all the way to Watson Lake, an uphill climb from Sawmill Flat. They began to catch us on the way back, and we all regrouped for a nice photo at the Lake Tahoe overlook. A few of the snowmobilers came over to talk to us about the fat bikes. It was good to see the two user groups sharing and enjoying the trail together!

Brockway Summit Snow Ride

Brockway Summit Snow Ride

A few of us headed over to the Tunnel Creek Cafe in Incline Village after the ride to warm up with some drinks and sandwiches. Not only is the cafe home to Flume Trail Bikes, it’s located just out of town for easy access out of the congestion.

Brockway Summit Snow Ride
Warming up at Tunnel Creek Cafe after the ride

It looks like we may be in for a long winter this year, so it’s great to be able find fun places like this to stay active and keep the spirits up. I’ll definitely give this trail another shot, and even try to get all the way to Watson Lake next time. I’ll also make a stronger effort to get on the trail earlier for the best snow.

Some great video footage of this ride can be found over on the RGJ Outdoors Page here.

Special thanks to Flume Trail Bikes for the use of the Specialized Fat Boy!

Epic Rides Community Discount Night

(TUCSON, ARIZ.) January 4, 2016 – In anticipation of its continually expanding Off-Road Series of community-oriented, family friendly mountain bike events in 2016, Epic Rides today announced Community Discount Night, an opportunity for nearby residents in each of the three host communities to receive a 25 percent discount on event registration.

Firkin and Fox
Epic Rides Community Discount Night at the Firkin and Fox

Held from 5:30p-8:30p on Wednesday, January 6, 2016 in Prescott, Ariz., Grand Junction, Colo. and Carson City, Nev., Community Discount Night will provide locals a social gathering to kick off the upcoming mountain bike season while sipping back select beers from Sierra Nevada Brewing and other locally crafted beverages.

Since the inaugural Whiskey Off-Road was held in Prescott in 2004, the Off-Road Series has grown into a three-day outdoor experience held in vibrant communities with a passion for healthy living and outdoor recreation. Part of what has made the Whiskey Off-Road and the Grand Junction Off-Road premier mountain bike events is the enthusiasm, energy and pride of each communities residents. And the excitement generated by locals with the debut of the Carson City Off-Road next June promises to make it an equally big success.

“The Off-Road Series events can’t happen without the support of our host communities,” said Todd Sadow, Epic Rides president. “Whether descending along the towering Thumb Butte in Prescott, taking in the massive Book Cliffs near Grand Junction or witnessing the remarkable emerald beauty of Lake Tahoe above Carson City, the Off-Road Series builds local pride in its host communities, and we aim to foster that pride by offering residents special pricing on our events.”

Epic Rides encourages local riders, clubs and social media mountain bike groups to spread the word on Community Discount Night, as the only requirement to receiving the discount is being at the event in person. Attendees can register for any and all three events for the same 25 percent discount. Friends and family who are not present are not eligible for Community Discount Night, sorry.

Community Discount Night takes place on January 6, 2016 from 5:30p – 8:30p at the Firkin and Fox in Carson City:

Carson City Off-Road Community Discount Night

  • Where: Firkin & Fox, 310 S. Carson St. #100
  • Discount: 25% off – Sign up $80 registration fee ($120 retail) for any 2016 Epic Rides Off-Road Series event. 18 & under receive an additional discount.
  • Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/523862297783289/

About Epic Rides

Founded in 1999, Epic Rides has become world famous for producing events that celebrate the many positive aspects of mountain biking. Events such as the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo presented by Tucson Medical Center, Whiskey Off-Road, Grand Junction Off-Road and the Tour of the White Mountains are popular with participants because they offer challenging, fun riding and emphasize the joy and camaraderie inherent in the sport. – Epicrides.com

Epic Rides Off-Road Series Registration Opens

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Todd Sadow, President
Epic Rides
520-623-1584 / tsadow@epicrides.com

image004

(TUCSON, ARIZ.) December 29, 2016 – On Thursday, December 31st at 6am MST registration for the 2016 Epic Rides Off-Road Series backcountry style mountain bike events and music festivals will open with multi-event pricing incentives and nearly $7,000 in sponsor prizes for six lucky winners who register between Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 and Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016.

“We’re focused on evolving cross-country events into the more soulful and fulfilling backcountry experience that mountain biking really is,” said Todd Sadow, Epic Rides president. “Modern bikes are more capable than ever, and the five-mile loop groomed trail experience in traditional cross-country events doesn’t satisfy the soul like a 15, 30 or 50-mile backcountry adventure amidst the most awe striking terrain in America.”

Each Off-Road Series host community possesses a unique, friendly and rugged frontier city charm, blessed with thousands of acres of breathtaking terrain and hundreds of miles of incredible singletrack. The quality of the trails and the family-friendly environment of each Off-Road Series event attract top professional athletes as well as amateur riders looking for an authentic backcountry mountain biking experience. Whether gunning for the $100,000 Pro Series Purse, getting the latest gear at huge industry expos, taking in the free music festivals, enjoying the Sierra Nevada Brewing beer gardens or simply accomplishing a big goal of finishing a choice of three different graduated event distances, there’s something for everyone at each stop in the Off-Road Series.

As an incentive to register early, three men and three women who sign up for any Off-Road Series event before Jan. 6 will be eligible for a generous prize package that will come in handy for event weekend. Winners will receive a Camelbak Kudu hydration pack ($225 retail value) a fresh set of Maxxis tires ($130 retail value) and one BikeFlights voucher worth up to $300 to conveniently ship their bike to and from the event. Winners will be announced on Jan. 7 on the Epic Rides Facebook page (facebook.com/epicrides/) and Instagram account (@epicrides).

Each event costs $120 (including beneficiary donation and applicable tax), and for those planning to do multiple events, a multi-event discount features a $30 savings for two events and a $60 savings for all three events. Due to their popularity, Off-Road Series events have a tendency to fill early. Early registration is recommended to guarantee the rider’s preferred event and distance.

The New Year will also bring numerous exciting announcements from Epic Rides, including detailed Pro category series information, Carson City Off-Road course maps and all-new singletrack on the Prescott Circle Trail that will be used in the Whiskey Off-Road.

For a sampling of the Off-Road Series backcountry experience, watch this video:

For more details on the Off-Road Series and early registration information, visit:
http://epicrides.com/off_road_series/

Carson City Off-Road on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/CarsonCityOffRoad

Event/Date/Location
Whiskey Off-Road: April 29th – May 1st Prescott, Arizona
Grand Junction Off-Road: May 20th – 22nd Grand Junction, ColoRADo
Carson City Off-Road: June 17th – 19th Carson City, Nevada

About Epic Rides

Founded in 1999, Epic Rides has become world famous for producing events that celebrate the many positive aspects of mountain biking. Events such as the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo presented by Tucson Medical Center, Tour of the White Mountains, the Whiskey Off-Road, Grand Junction Off-Road and now Carson City Off-Road are popular with participants because they offer challenging, fun riding and emphasize the joy and camaraderie inherent in the sport. – Epicrides.com

Riding the White Hill Loop

Recent storms have brought plentiful snow to the Carson Range this season, and this means fun winter recreation close to home. Spooner Summit, just a 20 minute drive from Carson City on HWY 50, provides several options for snowshoeing, sledding, backcountry skiing, and even mountain biking. We got the fat bikes out over the weekend for a quick morning spin on the groomed snowmobile trails around White Hill.

Spooner Summit Loop

From the Tahoe Rim Trail trailhead on the south side of the HWY where we parked, we followed Forest Road 14N32B to the east. The trail descends along the highway for a little over a half mile before turning a corner and climbing to the southwest. Not only was it a fun downhill, it gave us a feel for how the bikes were going to handle on the snow. Our fat knobby tires were really biting into the groomed trail, the packed snow not feeling too much different than a sandy dirt road.

Spooner Summit Loop
Slow was not a problem at times

Once around the corner, we began our ascent up the mountain. Normally we’d avoid a road this steep in the summer, as it’d be more fun to ride up the gentler grade of the Tahoe Rim Trail. But somehow, getting out in the snowy woods made even the steepest hills fun. Even pushing the bikes up the hill, which we had to do several times, was not a big deal, since much of the road was rideable as long as we had the strength.

Spooner Summit Loop

The trail appeared to be recently groomed, and we wondered if they were even running the snowmobiles on this day. We didn’t see another person during the entire climb, and it seemed odd that we had the whole place to ourselves.

Spooner Summit Loop

Spooner Summit Loop

Spooner Summit Loop

Eventually we got to the top of our climb, near the base of Duane Bliss Peak. We coasted down to the crossroads where we joined Forest Road 14N32. For the sake of a shorter ride, we chose to follow 14N32 to the northwest, a long, steep downhill that ends at HWY 50. 14N32 also continues south uphill towards Genoa Peak, a route I plan to take next time for more exploration and views.

Spooner Summit Loop
At the crossroads

We pedaled over to a view point, but were unable to see Lake Tahoe in the lightly blowing snow. Continuing on, the road got fast and steep, dropping over 700 feet in a thrilling mile and a half. The trail was recently used in this area, and took some looking ahead to pick the best line through the ski ruts. We made the bottom of the run just as dozens of people were about to head out on rented snowmobiles. It looks like getting an early start helped us to avoid any trail conflicts, only passing one snowmobile all morning. Once at the pavement, we followed the shoulder of HWY 50 north about a mile back to the trailhead (be careful of the ice!).

Spooner Summit Loop

Spooner Summit Loop

White Hill

If you decide to go, you will need a fat bike with 4-5″ wide tires. Regular mountain bike tires will not stay on top of the snow. Get out earlier in the day when the snow is still cold for best traction. Avoid warm days, or it will feel like riding in mashed potatoes. Riding this loop clockwise was steep, but counterclockwise would be even steeper. For those looking for a longer ride, it looks like road from the crossroads to Genoa Peak is a bit more forgiving.

Washoe Lake Exploration

Lured by the recent snow and cold temperatures, I got out for some exploration in Washoe Valley over the Thanksgiving holiday. While snow and cold might not sound ideal for riding a bicycle, it was my hope that the sand and mud would be firm for easy riding. Here’s a look at what I found.

Winter fat bike ride at Washoe LakeCrossing the dunes to the lake bed

I rode over to the Washoe Lake area from the northeast side, crossing over the sand dunes. The last time I was here, the sand was soft and took a lot of energy to pedal through. I anticipated firm sand this time, and that’s what I found, although it wasn’t smooth like I expected. Before the sand got wet and hardened up, the wind created all sorts of ripples and bumps across the dunes. This made for a bumpy but fun ride.

Winter fat bike ride at Washoe LakeOut on the lake bed – Solitude

I headed down to the lake bed, hoping to find the beginnings of a new lake. The snow crunched under my fat tires, and shielded me from the sticky mud underneath. With no particular destination in mind, I wandered the mostly featureless landscape, heading for distant objects that caught my eye. At one point I thought I saw the blue water of a lake forming, only to discover that it was just a mirage of light as I got closer.

Winter fat bike ride at Washoe LakeWhere to go next?

Further south the mud became more cracked with wide spaces between the plates. It looked especially neat with different shades of brown and a topping of snow, almost looking more like “dessert” than desert. My four inch wide tires were able to get me across this area without getting hung up in the cracks. It was also easier to ride than stand, as the sticky mud was adhering to my boots. I was getting taller with each step while I walked around to get photos.

Winter fat bike ride at Washoe LakeCracked mud

Washoe LakeLooking more like “dessert” than desert

The wildlife sightings on this outing were also fairly unique. First there was the mallard, an old unretrieved duck decoy. Nearer the shore was the line of carp that have been there since the lake disappeared early in the year. It appears that not even the hungriest of the scavengers will touch these poor fish. They seem to be just laying patiently, hopeful for the return of deeper waters.

Winter fat bike ride at Washoe LakeLate for the migration

Winter fat bike ride at Washoe LakeThe fish of Washoe Lake

Winter fat bike ride at Washoe Lake

I left the muddy flats and headed to the rolling dunes of the eastern shore. The firm wet sand was easy to climb and fun to descend with the big wheels of my fat bike. I followed the snowy trails through the sagebrush, heading back to where I started. Under the snow were hidden puddles. Sometimes the ice would crackle and barely support my weight. Other times I’d crash through into the puddles below. Nothing like conjuring up some childlike winter memories to keep you entertained.

Winter fat bike ride at Washoe LakeBack to the dunes

Winter fat bike ride at Washoe Lake

Winter fat bike ride at Washoe LakeHeaded back

It was a short ride, but a lot of fun. This is important during a time of year when outdoor activities can be limited and cabin fever sets in. I’m looking forward to going back out there soon, especially (if and) when the snow gets deeper. The big valley provides lots of solitude, and the snow makes for an interesting and scenic place for winter recreation. Let’s just hope that the snow collecting in the mountains above will fill the lake bed come Spring!