We were spoiled with Fall this year in Carson City. It felt like an actual season, and we were treated to weeks of fair weather and ideal trail conditions. It’s the time of year that makes me feel like there’s no other place on the planet I’d rather be than Carson City!
The riding up at Lake Tahoe has winded down, but there is still plenty of good riding in the desert to the east. I got out for a recent ride at Centennial, and rode out to the sticks, a giant pile of dead wood that is ever growing. You’ve heard the expression “out in the sticks”. Now you have the visual to go with it.
You can pretty much count on seeing wild horses out on the Centennial trail. I saw a bunch on this ride, and even a few that didn’t seem so wild. In fact, they didn’t appear to care that I was there at all. Just a quick glance my way as if to say, “What’s up, Mac?”, and then back to munching their grass.
Another thing I love about Fall is the changing of the colors. Riding under the red and gold canopies, and looking down on the colorful patchwork quilt of town from the trails high above. And when the leaves fall off the trees they form in long piled rows along the curb. I’m here to tell you that riding through a pile of leaves is just as fun at age 40 as it was at 10 years old!
The end of Fall was forecast, and the winds picked up before the winter storms. A few of us reluctantly went out for a ride in the high winds. We decided we couldn’t miss out on one of the last dry, semi-warm days of the year. And the wind is only really tough in one direction right? As always, the toughest part of the ride was getting the motivation to head out. Once rolling, you can’t believe you almost considered not going. It was slow going into the brutal headwinds, but electrically fast with a gust of wind at your back.
The winter storms arrived last weekend, but we had a nice break in between. The first storm left only about an inch of snow in Ash Canyon. Most of the snow was suspended in the grass and bushes, but had already melted on the singletrack. This made exploring the winter wonderland a blast! I was able to ride all the trails with exception of the Creek Trail. I didn’t even bother heading down there for fear of having to hike out. It was quite a sight looking down from the top of the climb. The miles of twisty snowy singletrack looked so different than it had just a few days ago.
I wasn’t the only one who had the idea to sneak in a ride before the next storm hit. I saw at least a half dozen other riders headed up for some fun in the snow. I stopped and talked with Dennis and Mike, and was even harassed by Susan as she rode by, threatening to bring scissors and cut off my beard. Marcus even bagged a night ride a few hours later. It was a great day for those seeking the peacefulness and solitude of the wintry mountains.
I took a break from riding the next day, instead prepping my ice and snow bike. I setup my On One single speed with studded snow tires and flat pedals, so I’d be ready for any weather that hit the next morning. This turned out to be a good decision, because the Monday commute was icy! Once again, I felt that the studded snow tires literally saved my butt. It’s now totally dark at 5PM for the ride home from work. The days grew shorter so quickly it seemed. Even though this will be my 4th winter commuting by bicycle, it was still a bit scary leading up to it. Now that’s here though, I’ve accepted it, I have a great set of lights, and I’m actually really enjoying the cold dark rides.
Transitioning into winter brings mixed emotions. Sadness, because of the limited activity and available light. Relief, because it’s been a busy year and now it’s time to rest. But also excitement of all the new challenges to face. Riding home in the dark through a snow storm can be just as exhilarating as bombing a section of fast singletrack. Staying warm and beating the elements, even over the easiest trails, is the challenge of the season.
Happy Thanksgiving to all! I hope you get out for some riding over the long holiday weekend!