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:

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Arriving at the work site

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A nice wooded section

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A section still under construction near a waterfall

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Removing small stumps and roots bordering the trail

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Checking on trail progress below

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Cutting back the brush

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Constructing a switchback

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A section of completed trail

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Crossing the steep hillside

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Moving lots of dirt

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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.

National Trails Day 2014

(Originally published on MusclePowered.org by Jeff Potter)

We had a fantastic turnout on National Trails Day! Muscle Powered, Graceworks, Great Basin Institute and Starbucks volunteers (Thank you for the morning coffee!) showed up at the Waterfall Trailhead early Saturday morning to work on the Ash Canyon to Kings Canyon Trail. At the sign-in table volunteers were issued hard hats and were able to grab a bit of swag provided by Clif Bar through IMBA’s Clif Bars for Trail Work Days, and Adventure Medical Kits from the American Hiking Society. After sign-in and a bit of mingling, volunteers loaded up in vans provided by Carson City and Capitol Automotive and shuttled up to the worksite.

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At the worksite Muscle Powered Senior Crew Leader Oliver Lieder conducted a safety talk and tool demonstration before sending crews off to work.

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Crews lead by Ward Knous and Toby Welborn took the most difficult terrain, a steep cross slope with plenty of rock , which kept the crew busy the whole day, while crews lead by Mark Kimbrough, Oliver Lieder and Jeff Potter worked on slightly easier terrain. Keith Conrad lead our rock crew whose task was to pull rocks off the side slope, placed there during previous construction, and haul them to Church Bells Ravine to be used as rip rap.

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This was the first time we’ve partnered with Graceworks, and I believe this was the first time they’ve worked on trail as an organization. It was wonderful to work with a dedicated group of hard working individuals, from ages 6 to 80, all in an effort of enhancing the community we live in.

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Totally awesome Jenny! She brought MP and GW together. Thank you!

Great Basin Institute started working on Ash to Kings back in late 2012. In 2013 they worked a full season and built 2 miles of trail in the middle section of the alignment. In 2014 GBI conducted crew orientation, along with a couple of hitches, and together with Muscle Powered has built 4,000ft of trail since May 1st of this year. To have GBI with us on NTD was extra special. It gave everyone a chance to talk with the crews who are helping to build our trail, plus they’re a great bunch of people to hang around with.

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Britney form GBI

We broke for lunch at 11:45 which was made by Comma Coffee provided by a generous donation from longtime trail supporters Galena Fest and Eagle Vision. Thank you!!!!!!

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CJ working on the trail

After lunch we worked for a couple more hours. By 1:45 Mark and Oliver’s crew had finished their sections and moved up the trail to help the other crew leaders. At the end of the day crews had built 1,075ft of new trail!

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Billie and Rex inspecting the sweet single track

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We regrouped one more time, counted tools and took one last group photo before heading home. On the way out it was impressive to see the work Keith’s crew did with the rip rap.

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Keith at Church Bells Ravine

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Alex and Jeremy

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Nathan and Isaac

Thank you to all who made this the best NTD ever!!!

Push America Cyclists to Visit Western Nevada College

Western Nevada College and the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities will host a ‘Journey of Hope’ Celebration Friday, June 6, for 35 bicyclists traveling from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. to support those with disabilities. This is a community event free and open to the public from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Carson City campus. Food, speakers, music, dancing, karaoke and a free raffle will entertain, and flu/T-dap shots and disability resource information tables will inform visitors.

Journey of Hope

The Governor has declared the week of June 6th – 10th as Journey of Hope week in Nevada. This team of cyclists is participating in a 67 day, almost 4,000 mile ride from San Francisco to Washington DC, stopping in Carson City and other cities in Nevada along the route.

More information on the Journey of hope on their website here: pushamerica.org/journeyofhope.aspx

Bike Month Wrap Up

As May comes to a close, it’s time to look back on all the fun events we had during Bike Month and thank our volunteers and sponsors who made it all possible!

Tour of Carson City

On May 4th the Bike Habitat hosted the Tour of Carson City, a nearly 30 mile ride around the perimeter of the city. The warm and pleasant morning help set the tone for the ride, as organizer Denis Coyne gave his pre-ride talk. After instructions, dozens of riders headed out to enjoy the ride. A rest stop was included this year over by the hospital on the north side of town. Before making the final ride south to the Bike Habitat, riders refilled their bottles with cold water, and treated themselves to ice cream, popsicles, and licorice. I worked the rest stop this year, and had just as much fun talking to all the riders as I would have doing the ride itself! The ride wrapped up at the Bike Habitat where owners Denis and Viola provided a delicious lunch.

Tour of Carson City 2014
Denis Coyne gives his pre-ride talk

Tour of Carson City 2014
Rest Stop volunteers Kristy and Anna

Tour of Carson City 2014
Tour of Carson City Rest Stop

Tour of Carson City 2014
Ice Cream and Popsicles were a big hit at the rest stop

Tour of Carson City 2014
Daly and John came down from Reno to join the ride

More photos from the Tour of Carson City HERE.

Celebrity Ride

The annual Celebrity Ride was on the morning of May 5th. This event has really grown since its inception when only one city supervisor was involved. This year we had the Mayor, the brand new City Manager, members of the Board of Supervisors, the Sheriff, leaders of Parks and Recreation and Open Space, the City Transportation Manager, the Superintendent of the Carson City School District, members of the press, and more! It was a great opportunity to get all the city leaders out together to talk about bikes and enjoy the warm Spring morning with a leisurely bike ride.

Carson City Celebrity Ride 2014
City Manager and Mayor

Carson City Celebrity Ride 2014
City Leaders talk bikes

Carson City Celebrity Ride 2014
The Press

Carson City Celebrity Ride 2014
Cortney Bloomer, Safe Routes to School Coordinator

Carson City Celebrity Ride 2014
Heading out on Minnesota Street

Carson City Celebrity Ride 2014
Riding up King Street

Carson City Celebrity Ride 2014
Rob, and Juan and Roger from Open Space and Parks and Rec

More photos from the Celebrity Ride HERE.

Ride for Reading

A new event this year was the week-long Ride for Reading starting on May 5th. The ride began over at Carson City Health and Human Services, where we loaded bikes, bags, and baskets full of donated books. From there we pedaled over to Bordewich Elementary school, where a few hundred kids were awaiting our arrival. We entered the playground and made a parade lap as the kids cheered loudly for bikes and books. After a short safety talk by event organizer Cortney Bloomer, the kids were able to go pick out their own book. The Ride for Reading was definitely one of the highlights of the month for me. This event continued the rest of the week, with deliveries being made to other area schools.

Ride for Reading 2014
Arriving at Bordewich Elementary

Ride for Reading 2014
Delivering books to a most appreciative audience

Ride for Reading 2014
Ride for Reading Riders

More photos from the Ride for Reading HERE.

Bike to Work Week

May 12th was the start of Bike to Work Week. Businesses all over town competed in the annual Corporate Bicycle Commuter Challenge throughout the week. Good weather encouraged participation this year, and cyclists in the challenge collectively logged 4,398 miles, and made 680 trips by bicycle! Good job everyone. The final results for this competition and other statistics can be found HERE. Local coffee shops Capital Coffee and Comma Coffee treated bicycle commuters to free coffee on Bike to Work Day as a reward for their efforts.

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Free Coffee at Capital Coffee

Westside Cruiser Ride

If one had to pick the most fun event of Bike Month, the Westside Cruiser Ride would be it. Well over a hundred people gathered at the Brewery Arts Center, the staging area for the ride. Costumes and bike decorating are encouraged for this fun parade style ride, and the riders did not disappoint! There were helmet antennae, tutus, capes, wigs, and even one crocodile costume. We encountered very little traffic along the route, and it was fantastic to see all the smiles and waves from the neighborhood residents. It was also great to see even more participation by the kids this year. After the ride, many of us went over to the Firkin and Fox for refreshments and live music. After dark, we lit up the lights for another fun ride home.

Westside Cruiser Ride 2014
Preparing to Ride

Westside Cruiser Ride 2014
A finely dressed gentleman and his penny farthing

Westside Cruiser Ride 2014
Some great costumes!

Westside Cruiser Ride 2014
The parade on Mary Street

Westside Cruiser Ride 2014
Lots of bikes on Ormsby Blvd

Westside Cruiser Ride 2014
It’s a mob!

Westside Cruiser Ride 2014
Post-ride posing

Westside Cruiser Ride 2014
Live music from Jenera Paxton & Josh Procaccini at the Firkin and Fox after the ride

Westside Cruiser Ride 2014
The ride home

More photos from the Westside Cruiser Ride HERE.

Bike to Work Week Party

On May 16th we had our Bike to Work Week Party. Riders began rolling in after work on Friday to the Firkin and Fox ready to celebrate the week. People lined up to get their raffle tickets for all the wonderful prizes we had collected from our local businesses. Notch 8 played music between events and giving away raffle prizes. There was a helmet decorating table for the kids, and we had a couple bike games this year. The Slow Drag was funny to watch, with the last rider to cross the finish line declared the winner. We also had a few games of Bike Polo. Originally the adults were going to do a polo exhibition, but it ended up being the kids that dominated the games. Bike Polo continued throughout the evening until we had to reopen the street at 9:00 PM. The Corporate Challenge results were announced, and all the raffle prizes were given out including the two highly sought after cruiser bikes. Not only was it a fun party, it was a very successful fund raiser for Muscle Powered.

Bike to Work Week Party
Get your beer and raffle tickets here!

Bike to Work Week Party
Lee and Kelly helped decorate helmets

Bike to Work Week Party
Bike Polo

Bike to Work Week Party
Lots of kids got in on the bike games this year

Bike to Work Week Party
Music by Notch 8

Bike to Work Week Party
Raffle prize time!

More photos from the Bike to Work Week Party HERE.

Bicycle Movie Night

On May 20th we had our Bicycle Movie night at Sassafras. The weather really changed this week, and it had rained most of the day. Most of us opted to drive to the movie that night. Mike Wiencek hosted movie night, where we showed the cycling classic, Breaking Away. Moviegoers enjoyed a night of movie trivia, great food and drinks, raffle prizes, and a fun film.

Thank You!

What a great month it was! Thank you to everyone who attended the events and made them so fun, all the Muscle Powered volunteers that gave their time at the events, the bike shops for keeping our bikes running, and a very special thank you to all our Bike Month Sponsors who make the events possible and help raise money for all the great bicycle and pedestrian projects happening around town. What a great community!

A very special thank you to (and I hope I have them all!):

  • Bella Fiore Wines
  • Bike Habitat
  • Cafe at Adele’s
  • Capital Coffee
  • Capitol Automotive
  • Carson City Orthodontics
  • Carson City Visitors Bureau
  • Comma Coffee
  • The Cracker Box
  • The Firkin and Fox
  • High Sierra Brewing Company
  • The Horseshoe Club
  • The LED Light, Inc.
  • Lumos & Associates
  • Nevada Bicycle Advisory Board
  • Nevada National Guard
  • NDOT
  • Notch 8
  • “Out West” Storekeeper
  • Sassafras
  • The Tap Shack
  • Vitamin Research Products
  • Webster Wealth Management LLC