Epic Rides Carson City – A View from the Top

The inaugural Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road event was a huge success! People came from all over the country to participate in this weekend long event that included live music, parties, and other fun activities in addition to the actual racing. It was such a big event, that it was hard to see it all. The festivities were downtown, so if you you weren’t racing, you probably didn’t get to see all the action on the mountain. Unless, of course, you were one of the backcountry volunteers!

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Fire Department and Search and Rescue

As a member of Carson City Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, I volunteered to help cover the racecourse. We partnered with the Fire Department to provide emergency services and make sure everyone got back to Carson City. Since the courses split for some time, there were well over 50 miles of trail to cover. To accomplish this, there were teams of 4x4s, OHVs, motorcycles, and mountain bikes. Extensive multi-day Incident Action Plans were used that covered such things as personnel and other assets, safety, emergencies, and radio communications.

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Volunteer comfort station on the Ash to Kings trail

Friday was the 15 mile “fun ride”. In spite of the name, The Ash to Kings trail is still challenging with all its climbing and narrow mountainside trails. We watched the riders from high above make their way up Kings Canyon, and then eventually go by us on the trail. Even though this was a fun ride, you could tell the people up front were treating it as a race. I was also surprised at how many kids were up front.

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Waiting for the ride to come through on Ash to Kings

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
View of Carson City from the Ash to Kings Trail

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Riders descending to Ash Canyon

On Saturday and Sunday, I was assigned to the Marlette Lake mountain bike team, quite possibly the best volunteer position on the mountain. We shuttled the mountain bikes on the back of a Jeep up to 8,200 feet where the Tahoe Rim Trail Crosses above Marlette Lake. From there, it wasn’t much climbing to get to the highest point on the course and the best views.

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
One of the first riders on the Tahoe Rim Trail

The weather up on top was much colder than anticipated on Saturday morning. Visibility was limited with the low cloud cover, and the wind was blowing hard across the ridge tops. I had on a warm hat, gloves, fleece, and a windbreaker to stay warm. The only thing keeping the racers warm was the fact that they’d been climbing for about 20 miles. A lucky few had windbreakers with them. I imagine they were eager to get off the top and back into the woods.

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Up into the clouds

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
The clouds breaking for a moment to show Marlette Lake

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Over 20 miles of climbing and still going strong

Epic Rides Carson City Off-road
Check out how fast the clouds are moving in the first few seconds of this video

Past Marlette Peak was the big snow bank. It was soft, slippery, and bumpy, and had to be walked across. From the expressions and comments, many riders were not expecting this!

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
The hike-a-bike across the snow bank.

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
A smaller section of snow that was causing a few minor crashes

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Turning onto the Snapdragon Trail at Twin Lakes

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Tahoe Mountain Bike Patrol trying to stay warm

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Swilling pickle juice at the Tanks Aid Station to alleviate muscle cramps

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Riders approaching the Tanks Aid Station above Washoe Valley

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
View of Washoe Lake from the Tanks Aid Station

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Tanks Aid Station

Possibly the most challenging section of downhill was the “Secret Trail”. This old trail is on private property and was opened just for the race. It’s actually less of a trail, and more of a steep short cut to get riders over to Ash Canyon and avoid the pavement. Loose, steep, and rutted, it caused a few crashes. Some riders commented that it was best kept a secret. With several hundred riders competing on Saturday, it was a long day. Many hours separated the first rider and the last, and we didn’t finish up until 7:00 PM, a 12 hour day. I went straight home to get to bed early for Sunday.

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Exiting the Secret Trail

We had an early Sunday morning muster at Carson Middle School at 06:30. Having worked out many of the logistics on Saturday, we were more prepared to get up to the top earlier. There were less than 90 pros racing this morning, and they’d be at the top quick. Arriving up top that morning, the weather was MUCH nicer with unobstructed views of Lake Tahoe. We picked a nice viewpoint and waited for the riders. The wait was not long.

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Early morning muster at the Middle School at 06:30

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Not a bad view and place to wait

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
View of Marlette Lake and Lake Tahoe from the Tahoe Rim Trail

As the riders got closer, we moved down the course to the high point above Twin Lakes. There would be very little climbing after this, and made a great place to start the sweep. That’s when I discovered I had lost my handheld GPS. The last place I saw it was a mile back. Just as I started to go back up the trail to search for it, the first pro riders started coming through. It was a challenge to ride, look for a GPS, and stay the heck out of the way of the race. The men and women were flying through this section, and the last thing I wanted was for someone to hit the brakes because of me. I did not hinder progress, and was amazed at how fast the riders passed me through the woods. I ended up finding my GPS, but missed most of the photo opportunities in the process.

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
One of the women pro riders coming through

In a short amount of time, all riders had passed and it was time to sweep the course. We watched the last female pro rider pass, but that’s the last time we saw her. We followed her progress over the radio traffic as she passed all the checkpoints. Much earlier this time, we started pulling resources from the mountain as the riders finished the Ash to Kings Trail. There were only minor injuries reported and one person was treated for heat exhaustion over the entire weekend. That’s not bad for 600 riders on a difficult course!

Epic Rides Carson City Off-Road 2016
Changing a Jeep tire near the Tanks Comfort Station

Even though I missed all the downtown festivities (I think I’m the only one in town who didn’t get their picture with mountain bike legend Gary Fisher), it was fun to get to see so much of the racing action up top and ride the trails. I got over 50 miles of riding in over the weekend, mostly downhill at a leisurely pace, and I was still worn out. I can only imagine how tired the racers were at the end! I think most of us felt the weekend was going to be a big event, but I was still waiting to see if it lived up to the hype. I was really surprised at how well it did go. I talked to people from all over the country that had made the trip out here to ride and race, and they all had big smiles and loved the trails. There was very little complaining about the huge climb. They’ll be back, and they’ll bring their friends. Next year they plan to increase the race entrance cap from 600 to 1,200! The thing that really stands out, though, is the hundreds of volunteers, both paid and professional, that stepped up to ensure this event was successful. Public Works, Sheriff’s Office, Search and Rescue, Fire Department, Muscle Powered, the City, Epic Rides, and many others…it took hundreds of man and woman hours to pull this off. This really shows the pride people have in our community and what makes Carson City such a great place to live!

More photos from the ride HERE.

Ride of Silence 2016

Muscle Powered organized a ride around Carson City Wednesday evening, honoring those who have been injured or lost their lives while riding bikes on Nevada roadways. Sadly, there was one reported cyclist fatality in Reno this very day. The Ride of Silence is conducted in cities worldwide on May 18th at 7:00 PM.

Ride of Silence 2016

Ride of Silence 2016

Ride of Silence 2016

Ride of Silence 2016

Ride of Silence 2016

Ride of Silence 2016

As the name suggests, the ride was silent. No talking was allowed along the 8 mile route. The ride pace was kept to about 12 mph, adding to the solemn mood. The Carson City Sheriff’s Office provided a police escort, allowing the group to take a full lane through town. This increased visibility and helped to spread the message that motorists should be more aware of all the cyclists sharing the roadways. Ride leader Randy Gaa also stressed the cyclists’ obligation to follow the rules of the road to all the riders before the ride. Staying visible, following the rules, and riding in a predictable manner are the best ways for a cyclist to stay safe out on the roads. A big thank you to Carson City motorists for their patience during this important ride!

El Dorado Canyon Ride

Beginning near Dayton and climbing 11 miles south to the Douglas County line, El Dorado Canyon defines the eastern border of Carson City. Many people will be surprised to learn that this eastern border of Carson City is actually further east than downtown Dayton. A dirt road runs the length of this remote canyon, but it’s one of most rugged trails in the area. Full of washouts, creek crossings, and boulders, the challenge attracts 4×4 and OHV enthusiasts for its difficulty. It’s not uncommon for these vehicles to become broken and stranded along the way. Although still challenging on a bicycle, a mountain bike is one of the easiest way to see the canyon.

El Dorado Canyon Ride

We got out to the canyon last weekend. To start our ride, we drove into Dayton and headed east on Dayton Valley Road. Immediately after crossing the Carson River bridge, we made a right and followed the signs to the rodeo grounds. The rodeo grounds can be used as a staging area, but if you want to save some climbing like we did, follow the road around the rodeo grounds and park above the mouth of the canyon where the road starts to get rocky. From there, just ride along the road and drop into the bottom of the canyon.

El Dorado Canyon Ride

The wet and cool spring has set the stage for lots of wildflowers, making this the perfect time to ride the canyon. From beginning to end, the flowers were everywhere, providing lots of color in the canyon and on the hillsides.

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

Another good reason to ride the canyon right now is for all the water flowing down the creek. The numerous creek crossings and puddles are deep enough for some fun challenges. Just plan to get a little wet.

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

At a particularly narrow and rocky section, we stopped to chat with some ATVers. They even offered us some refreshments, which we were more than happy to accept. Soon, some 4×4 rock crawlers that we had recently passed came through. It was fun to watch these customized machines make their way through terrain that would be nearly impossible in a stock vehicle. These folks were sticking to the most difficult routes, speed not a factor in their decision making. One guy mentioned that we were crazy to be out there on bikes, but we were thinking the same thing of them!

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

No matter what time of year, El Dorado Canyon has all sorts of interesting geological features to explore and ponder. The colors and types of rocks are always changing throughout the canyon, many looking strange and out of place. When traveling south up the canyon, be sure to look up on the hillside on your left after the small cave. There’s a natural arch that’s barely visible from the road. It’s worth a hike up to see.

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

It’s hard to travel through El Dorado Canyon and not see some wildlife. We caught a few reptiles out sunning themselves. With the regular water source in the canyon, you may even see a deer, bobcat, or mountain lion.

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

The canyon opens up near the top with big views. Even though it’s less rocky, there are still challenging hill climbs and washouts to ride. El Dorado Canyon tops out at Sunrise Pass Road at the Douglas and Lyon County line. We found some shade and had a long break, gathering some energy for the long descent back to the bottom.

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

The downhill is a blast, never too steep with lots of twists and turns and fun obstacles. I had stayed mostly dry on the way up, but crashing through the water on the way down was too much fun to resist. There are only a few short uphills on the way back, and you definitely make the return trip a lot quicker. We ran into the people we met on the way up. The 4×4 group was still crawling up the wash, barely a half mile from where we saw them last (see, I told you they were crazy…). Our ride ended with the climb out of the canyon and tired legs, back to our vehicle overlooking Dayton below.

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

El Dorado Canyon Ride

Additional Information:

  • Although El Dorado Canyon isn’t too hard on a mountain bike, it’s best to stay out of there when it’s raining or muddy. The mud sticks to everything, and gets so slippery you can barely walk in it.
  • Those looking for additional mileage should check out the side canyons: Bull Run Spring, Sullivan Canyon, and Illinois Canyon. These canyons offer some fun singletrack and options for some epic backcountry loops.
  • Carry a decent repair kit, extra water and food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. The area is remote with little phone coverage. Not a bad place to carry The Ten Essentials.

Bike Habitat’s Tour of Carson City 2016

Please join Bike Habitat and Muscle Powered for the 9th Annual Tour of Carson City bicycle ride on Sunday, May 1st! Signups are at 9:00 AM, and the ride commences at 9:30 AM. The ride will begin and end at the Bike Habitat, and tour around the perimeter of Carson City for a moderately paced 27-30 mile bike ride.

Tour of Carson City 2016

Enjoy bicycling in Carson City with Denis and Viola as they celebrate the 9th Anniversary of Bike Habitat. This is a free event, and lunch will be served for the riders back at the shop after the ride! The weather appears to be shaping up for a perfect cycling day.

Bike Habitat's Tour of Carson City 2015
Riders leaving the Bike Habitat

Donations and memberships are encouraged to support Muscle Powered of Carson City to promote a more bike friendly community.

Bike Habitat's Tour of Carson City 2015
Popular rest stop on the northwest end of the loop

Call Denis at the Shop for Information.

Bike Habitat
911 Topsy Lane (next to Best Buy)
Carson City, NV 89705
(775) 267-5053
bikehabitat.com

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park

While the actual ride didn’t begin until last Sunday afternoon, the planning for this ride can be traced back to last Fall. I started seeing photos and stories of bikepackers on multi-day backroad adventures and became very interested. I started researching the subject, and realized that I already had most of the gear, the same gear I use for hiking and backpacking (these adventures can be read about here). What I lacked were the bags to attach to the bike to haul all this gear. Not long later, I found a couple friends that were on a parallel path, so we started discussions and began purchasing the bikepacking gear over the long winter. Finally, after waiting and dreaming for months, the day had come to load up the bikes and pedal down the driveway for our first off-road bikepacking adventure.

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Heading out of town

Bikepacking could be described as a hybrid of bicycle touring, mountain biking, and backpacking. While bicycle touring on the road usually consists of metal racks bolted onto the bike to hold the luggage, bikepacking generally focuses on bags that attach directly to the bike, helping to keep the bike light, narrow, and nimble for challenging off-road terrain. Like backpacking, bikepacking also leans in the direction of being more self sufficient, since you will likely be away from services while you are out. There has been much development in the ultra-light backpacking industry in recent years, so there is a lot of gear like lightweight stoves and small packable tents that  are perfect for bikepacking as well. While bikepacking isn’t new, it’s in a time of growing popularity. Bikepacking bags have only started to see mass production, with most of the gear being used right now still made by small custom shops. Helpful sites like bikepacking.com discuss all the gear and even give ideas for bikepacking routes. One of the best things, though, is the mountain bike you already have will work for most gear and routes!

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Leaving the pavement

For our first bikepacking trip, we chose Washoe Lake State Park. At about 23 miles out and back, it’s not far from home, and has a nice campground and easy water source. This would allow us to focus on trying out all the new gear for the first time. While a backpacker simply puts all the gear into one big bag, the bikepacker must figure out where each piece of equipment fits and works the best in a selection of multiple bags. Since we all sourced our gear from different companies, we each had a different way of packing. Two of us had small auxiliary packs on our backs for stowing lighter items, while one of us was able to get it all on the bike. It’s definitely a process that includes trial and error.

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Slow and steady

While we were carrying everything that we would on an unsupported ride, this ride evolved into a camping trip that included family and friends. This allowed us to stow a few luxury items with them before heading out, things that you normally wouldn’t bring like camp chairs, beer, and firewood. We wouldn’t exactly be roughing it.

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Turning off Goni Road to head to Washoe Valley

One of the nice things about this route, is that we were able to leave from our driveways. We all converged at the northernmost driveway, then collectively made our way to Goni Road using some of the city’s available bike lanes and routes. The bikes rolled along pretty easily on the flats, but we sure felt the weight when we started our climb up the base of McClellan Peak. Goni Road turns to dirt and becomes steeper as it makes its way up the mountain. We just took it slow and steady, not having too far to go before our turnoff to Washoe Valley.

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Washoe Lake and camp in the distance

Soon we were at the high point of the climb, about 1,200 feet of climbing from the house. It was almost all downhill to camp, a little over 700 feet of descending to the valley floor. The hard work for the day was over. There were some pretty steep downhill sections on the route we picked, and we all agreed we may not want to come back up this way. Additionally, I really felt the extra weight of my tent on the front of the bike when descending, and it was adversely affecting my braking and bike handling. I would definitely have to pack differently for the return trip.

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Bikes and horses

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park

We joined family and friends at a campsite already in progress. They had trailered in horses to ride and camp with, so it seemed fitting that we parked our bikes near the corrals. After getting our camping gear setup, we got to enjoying the luxury items we had waiting for us. We supervised dogs and kids while the girls went out for a trail ride. The fire was going when the sun went down, and we stayed up late into the night as you often do with good friends and a nice campfire.

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Returning from a trail ride

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
The sun goes down

We awoke on Monday to a beautiful morning. It was hard to believe there was snow and freezing conditions just a few days ago. The group camp stove was fired up to start making pancakes, and we bikepackers used the small stoves we hauled with us to make hot drinks and freeze dried meals. Since I was just boiling small quantities of water, I brought along my Fancy Feast stove, an ultralight alcohol burning stove kit made from a cat food can, aluminum foil, and a disposable water bottle. It’s cheap, light, packs down small, and proved to be a decent option for this simple trip.

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Morning at camp

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Enjoying the morning sun

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Being watched by a Western Scrub Jay

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
The rigs loaded and ready to go

One of our friends at camp gave us a tip for a better road back. The route is longer and climbs higher, but not nearly as steep as the route we came in on. After packing up camp and saying goodbye, we headed over to the park headquarters to follow the road behind it up the canyon. It heads east and northeast as it gains elevation before heading south to Carson City. Along the way we had outstanding views of the valley and had a few wildlife sightings as well. Repacking my heavy items to the rear of the bike made for much better bike handling on the return trip.

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Starting our climb

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Blooming Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
A rocky section

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Passing by some granite boulders

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Ranch in the hills

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Out enjoying the sun

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Gopher snake on the road

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
High above Washoe Lake

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
High point of the ride

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Resting and enjoying the view

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Starting the descent to Carson City

The ride up over the pass turned out to be fantastic. Being a Monday, we had most of the place to ourselves. This changed, however, when we got back to the pavement and the industrial area of town. Dodging trucks, we got off the busy road as soon as possible, and followed a backroad over to Sassafras Eclectic Food Joint for burgers and beer. It seemed like we had just finished breakfast a bit ago, but we were already starving. We ended up having a great post ride meal and celebration on the front patio, completely satisfied with our first bikepacking outing. Tired and with full stomachs, we started the hardest part of the ride yet, across town to unpack and clean up.

Bikepacking to Washoe Lake State Park
Burgers and beers at Sassafras Eclectic Food Joint

Not only was our first bikepacking trip a lot of fun, it was very educational. We all experienced something along the way that we plan to do differently next time, like different packing strategies, gear changes, or bringing items forgotten. I’ll be looking for ways to free up some space. As space is freed up, I’ll move items off my back and into the packs on the bike. As far as where we’ll go next, we have lots of ideas. There are already groups mapping out and ground proofing routes across Nevada like the Trans Nevada Trail, and even NDOT will be soon be releasing routes to encourage bicycle tourism. Part of the fun, though, is to come up with routes of your own for a totally unique experience. We are lucky to be in an area that has endless possibilities for human powered adventures. Can’t wait to get back out there again!

Wilson Canyon Adventure

At the beginning of April, we headed back down to the Wilson Canyon area in Lyon County for further exploration. When we rode there back in November, we had barely scratched the surface on interesting places to ride. This time we decided to build on what we learned last time, starting at the same trailhead at the top of Wilson Canyon on State Route 208.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Leaving the trailhead

As before, we began our ride on the official non-motorized trail to get over the first hill and down into the next wash. We hopped off the trail and into the wash at the bottom, heading south up the canyon. We had a leisurely pace, enjoying the blue sky contrasting with the rock formations that look like they could be from Utah if not for the color.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Dropping down to the wash on the steep trail

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Heading up the wash

Soon we arrived at the first dry waterfall. It’s interesting to look at, but impassable on bike. Backing up just a short ways, we followed the bypass trail around the feature, and then back down into the wash.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Approaching the first dry waterfall

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Up and over the bypass

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Just around the corner is the slot canyon. Before entering, we explored a rocky side canyon on foot just to see where it went. Back on the bikes, we rode the slot canyon. The narrows aren’t very long, but it’s such a fun spot that we rode it back and forth a couple times.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Back to the wash

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
A little exploration off the bike

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Into the narrows of the slot canyon

After exiting the narrows, we broke for lunch and came up with a plan for what to do next. Previously, we had continued south, but I wanted to see where the incoming canyon from the east went. Since none of us had been that way before, it was easy to reach an agreement. The canyon to the east joins the main wash with a tall ledge, so we just followed the bypass trail over the hill and back into the wash.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Dropping down into the next canyon

The wash in the section to follow was hit and miss, sometimes becoming too rocky to ride. Through one particularly rocky section, we made our own route around through a maze of mud hills. It’s some of the strangest terrain you’ll ever see, changing drastically in texture and color from one moment to the next.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
A route around the rocks

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Hike-a-bike

Higher up, we followed a nice singletrack. As we gained elevation, it started to green up. Lots of green plants, flowers, and cacti suddenly covered the hillsides.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Some nice singletrack

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Indian Paintbrush

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Cacti

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Greening up

Eventually the trail topped out at the top of a big canyon descending to the north, with great views in all directions. It made the perfect spot to regroup, refresh, and plan what to do next. There looked to be a fun trail entering the canyon, but none of us really knew what was down there or where or if it came out. I should rephrase that…I knew that water flowing into this canyon eventually emptied into the Walker River, but I didn’t know if man and bike could make the same journey.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Top of the canyon

In spite of the unknown, we elected to explore the canyon. One rider decided to go first and made the plunge down the canyon’s sandy, slippery headwall. The trail is very steep, but I thought the deep sand might provide some traction. We all watched our friend go over the edge. His back wheel locked up instantly, but he continued to accelerate faster and faster. The three of us watching from the top were like novice bowlers using exaggerated body movements to influence an errant bowling ball headed for the gutter.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
He’s ok! I think. The rest of us will walk down.

He made the bottom and we cheered, but he had too much momentum to stay on the trail and flew off through the bushes. Again we tried to guide his path from afar. Like a crashing plane, he finally dove into the bottom of the wash, terminating his flight abruptly in a pile of rocks. A few long seconds later he raised a fist, “I’m O.K.!”. “Well this isn’t starting off well…”, we thought.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Well, that didn’t go as planned

The rest of us walked our bikes down the hill in a more controlled manner. Our friend had some sore ribs, and his knee had sprung a leak. Other than that, though, he was ready for some more riding. We followed a fun swooping singletrack leading down the canyon. Soon, the trail dropped down into the wash and made for some fun sandy riding with the fat tires. The colors in the canyon were changing continuously as we descended. I remember thinking that this was a trail I was going to start highly recommending to other riders.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
This singletrack must go somewhere

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Spectators

Somewhere near the middle, we entered a wide spot in the canyon. Red dirt and rock were everywhere, and it looked like we could’ve been on Mars. Tall and steep mountains with scenic rocky cliffs surrounded us. The trail continued deeper into the canyon, so we kept following it.

Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
A way out maybe?

The canyon started to get narrow again, and we noticed that the motorcycle tracks had stopped. Soon we were in another slot canyon, with steep rocky sides. I felt that we must be near the bottom.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Starting to get pretty narrow

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

We were amazed at where we were riding and having a blast, but then we came to the end of the line. A dry waterfall cliff stopped us dead in our tracks. It looked possible we could hand the bikes down with some effort, so we sent a scout down to see what was around the corner. He came back a while later, and said that there was an even worse drop not far down the canyon and that it would take rappelling gear to get down it. We were done.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
The end of the line

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Walled up

We knew we were close to the bottom, but there was nothing we could do. A post-ride analysis of the map showed that we were only 300 yards from the Walker River and highway! The only thing to do, though, was turn around and go back. This changed everyone’s mood pretty quickly. Water bottles were running low, and there was a long climb out of the canyon behind us. And that awful hill at the end! We started making our way back, a mix of riding and walking. We searched for a shortcut out of the canyon, but any exit we could find was really steep. We also didn’t know what we’d run into if we tried to climb out of the canyon a different way. It was better to stick with what we knew, even if we weren’t excited about it.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
And then a chain breaks

Not far up the canyon, my son said his bike was making weird noises. I inspected the wheels, but found nothing. About a minute later, he announced that his chain had broke. The dark clouds literally gathered above our heads, and I felt a couple rain drops. I thought about the rain jackets that we had left back at the car. We thought about our friend that had skipped the ride in favor of some relaxing beach time in California, and wondered if maybe we shouldn’t have given him such a hard time. Could it be karma?

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Climbing back up

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Red dirt

We got the chain repaired without too much difficulty, though, and the rain never amounted to more than a few drops. It wasn’t long before we were at the top of the canyon, and at the bottom of the steep hill. This was the final push, and then it would be fairly easy getting back to the trailhead. We doubled up on the bikes at times, helping each other push them up the hill. I imagine even the motorized bikes have difficulty getting up this thing. We had a good rest at the top, happy that it was now time for a long downhill.

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Climbing back up the canyon headwall

Wilson Canyon
Push!

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
And now we rest

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
Mostly downhill back

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area

Mountain Biking the Wilson Canyon Area
End of a good ride

We arrived back at the trailhead without further incident, happy to be back and find more water in the vehicles. It had been a great adventure. Our canyon adventure had me wondering, though. Would we have gone down it if we knew it didn’t come out at the bottom? Probably not. I’m actually kind of thankful we didn’t know, because we would’ve missed all the rugged scenic beauty. Will I go back down there? I don’t know. We drove back into Smith Valley, not too hopeful that anything would be open this late on a Sunday evening. Much to our surprise, a Mexican restaurant named Rosie’s Place was open well into the night. In fact, it looked like this was the big night to go out in Smith Valley, as the place was packed. They seated us, bloody knees and all. Pitchers of cold water, Mexican beer, and huge plates of food made for the perfect end of an amazing day!

Carson City Off-Road Course Announcement

Carson City Off-Road Courses Deliver Challenge & Unique Capitol City Opportunities

(CARSON CITY, Nevada.) April 12, 2016 – In cooperation with Visit Carson City, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Nevada State Parks, it’s with great excitement Epic Rides today unveiled the Inaugural Carson City Off-Road mountain bike event course maps.

Like the popular Whiskey & Grand Junction Off-Road events, the Carson City Off-Road offers three distance options allowing beginner, weekend warrior and pro level mountain bikers to choose the challenge that’s right for them. Distances include the Capitol 15, 35 & 50 routes, where 1 Capitol = 1 mile; the prefix pays homage to the event’s location in front of the sprawling lawn of Nevada’s State Capitol building on Carson St.

A featured landmark among a smorgasbord of Capitol City opportunities and experiences, participants will enjoy the opportunity to pass by the Nevada State Governor’s mansion along each route, including the kids ride and Pro criterium course. Most impressive, the Pro category has been invited into the Governor’s mansion for their pre-ride meeting on Friday, June 17th at 2 p.m.

“I’ve never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

– Mark Twain

A Carson City resident, Twain’s quote parallels each route’s ability to deliver personal development through experience. Adequate preparation will pay dividends as each course starts with a significant climb up Kings Canyon Road into the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada, and rewards the prepared endurance athlete with big descents back to the Washoe Valley.

The Capitol 35 & 50 courses start with a 12 mile climb, top out at 8,200 ft. on the scenic Tahoe Rim Trail singletrack and serve up views of four different alpine lakes, including Lake Tahoe. Each route includes the following popular singletrack trails:

Capitol 50  (Click Here for course map)

  • Spooner Lake Trail
  • Tahoe Rim Trail segment
  • Snap Dragon Trail
  • Red House flume
  • Ash to Kings Trail

Capitol 35  (Click Here for course map)

  • Spooner Lake Trail
  • Tahoe Rim Trail segment
  • Sunflower Hill Trail
  • Secret Trail
  • Creek Trail
  • Lower Ash Canyon Trail
  • Jackrabbit Trail

Capitol 15  (Click Here for course map)

The Capitol 15 course, with over 10 miles of singletrack, utilizes the Ash to Kings Trail in reverse plus Lower Ash Canyon Creek Trail and Jackrabbit Trail. A point of pride for Carson City’s trails community, the Ash to Kings Trail was built by local trail advocacy group Muscle Powered and is rideable by all levels of mountain biker – as long as they toe the start line with the fortitude needed to usher them up the first climb.

“Carson City’s trail network is well built and inviting to all levels of mountain biker, said Epic Rides President, Todd Sadow.“ And, with numerous cooperative land agencies and land owners coming together to show off the area’s natural resources, together we’ve constructed a day on the bike that all attendees will enjoy and can be proud to have completed,” he said.

Event registration opened on January 1, 2016 and is quickly approaching the 600-rider limit. Registration and event information is available here:

http://epicrides.com/index.php?contentCat=10

Ash.Canyon9 (VCB)

Bikers ride in Ash Canyon in Carson City, Nev., in June 2015. Photo by Rick Gunn

Carson City, NV Nestled 30 minutes between Reno and Lake Tahoe boasts an array of unique restaurants, challenging singletrack, historical attractions, museums, gaming opportunities and a plethora of year-round, outdoor experiences beyond the mountain bike.

Visitors will find plenty of open space, fresh mountain air and friendly residents to encounter. Carson City is a progressive community that has evolved to offer exceptional experiences to visitors, regardless of their interests. From the memorable Sierra Nevada to reminiscent days gone by of the V&T Railroad and beautifully restored buildings, Carson City offers outstanding opportunities to travelers.

http://visitcarsoncity.com/

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, the Grand Junction Off-Road, and the newly announced Carson City Off-Road are popular with participants because they offer challenging, fun riding and emphasize the joy and health benefits inherent in the sport.

http://epicrides.com/