We’ve had a few weeks of unseasonably warm weather, and the dirt has been drying out nicely. This is the time of year we like to ride the high desert east of Carson City. There is plenty of sun on the east side of the Flowery Mountain Range, making the Iron Mountain Trail one of the best bets for getting your singletrack fix this time of year. Here’s a look at the adventures we’ve had.
The Iron Mountain area is located between Dayton and Stagecoach on the north side of Highway 50, and is easily accessible on Neigh Road on the west, and Iron Mountain Blvd. on the east. The hard part though is finding the actual singletrack. I’ve been out there a few times, and I’m still thankful to have a guide along that really knows the trails well. I’m not certain I could find all sections of trail without help. If you’re not able to join us on one of these group rides, there are still plenty of jeep roads to go out and explore that would not be disappointing.
The first weekend we went out, the ground was still pretty moist. You could really feel the rolling resistance as the tires pushed through the wet gravelly sand. Trails on the northern slopes were still pretty muddy, so much so that we occasionally had to push the bikes. Thankfully almost all of the trail is in the sun, so these incidents were few.
The following weekend, the trails were in much better shape. The trail was packed down, and there was very little mud that gave riders problems. For some reason though, I was much more tired at the end. I’m guessing that we just rode a lot faster and took fewer breaks.
The best thing about the rides though was the great turnout we had. Mountain biking is fun, but is much better when shared with others. It was great to see old buddies, meet some new friends, and get newer riders out on some different terrain. We had as many as 15 riders at one time, and it was such a cool sight to see so many bikes descending the switchbacks. A mini caravan of brightly colored nomads.
For riders not familiar with the Iron Mountain terrain, they were presented with an all-new challenge. Although there are some steep sections along the route, the grinds never last too long. The biggest challenge of the trail is just trying to stay on it. Whereas the trails in Ash Canyon are open and flowing, the Iron Mountain trail is narrow and constantly changing direction. The rocks aren’t too big, but there are many, and require constant maneuvering to get around. A few riders mentioned that they could not take their eyes off the trail for a second, and that if they did, they found themselves out in the bushes.
With the exception of a few scratches and bruises, all riders survived the adventures. The slippery mud on some of the descents caused a few moments where tires were at a higher elevation than the helmets. In one particular instance, it took a couple of us to lift one rider out of the bushes and get this person at an angle where they could unclip from their pedals! And one rider pedaled with an unknown flat for a few miles, giving me my only shot of passing her the entire day.
Having a such stretch of nice weather in January was fantastic. Especially after such a cold and snowy December. As a year round cyclist, I consider December and January to be the toughest months of the year, and to sneak through the month this easily almost seems like cheating. It’s February now, and the days are noticeably longer. The snow will still fall down here in the valley, but it won’t hang around long. The mental hurdle of winter has been crossed, and we’re looking down the trail to springtime!
If you are going out alone, the GPS map on our Trails Page may help you find the singletrack. The Trails and Rides page is HERE.
The complete photoset of these rides can be found on Flickr HERE.
Additional photos for this story were provided courtesy of Ashley Dale.