Road to Virginia City, NV

This was my favorite road bike ride when I was living in Dayton several years ago. Now that I’m living in Southeast Carson City the ride to the top and back is about 10 miles longer, but I still love the challenge. About 34 miles (out and back) this ride crosses three counties and climbs about 2,500 feet. The vistas along the way are amazing, and your chances of running into wild horses are good.

MVIMG_20200322_094831 These horses were kind enough to pose for me

Coming from the Southeast, my ride more or less begins along prison hill, with a view of the prison for which I assume prison hill is named (I could not find confirmation of this). The mountains in the background are always a nice touch, with views of the valley from the east side of town!

Looking over one of the two state prisons in Carson City

Regardless of where you start in Carson City, find your way to the US50 heading east out of town. The 50 is named Williams when you’re still in town, and is also part of the “Loneliest Road in America.” My destination is somewhere just behind the snowy peaks in the distance. Traffic through here is fast. It’s a 55 mile per hour zone where everyone is driving between 65 and 70. The shoulder is very wide, though, so you’re almost an entire lane away from traffic. Regardless, watch your back.

Find the 50, ride East

The first real climb leaving Carson City on your way to Mound House looks deceptively shallow, but is a nice way to warm up the legs and lungs.

Starting the climb to Mound House

The V&T railroad bridge marks the unofficial line between Carson City and Lyon County. After riding through Mound House, head north on SR 341 toward Virginia City.

Leaving Carson City limits
Left past Mound House, just about to start the real climb
Left is insanely steep but the scenery is better!
(I did it once, now I only turn right)
Leaving Lyon County at the Storey County line
Worth it!

As spectacular as the views are, the details you get from bicycling are also great. The landscape is dotted with old buildings and abandoned mines.

One of many great sights along the road
Another abandoned building, this one looks to be on private property
A car collection in the high desert with a glimpse of Carson City and the Carson Range in the background
Getting close!
The last push into VC, you can almost taste the finish line
The old school house is at the first turn into Virginia City, and lies at the junction between the truck route and regular route.
Downtown Virginia City (looking very empty due to statewide business closures)

Virginia City sprang up from a mining boom and still feels “old west” in a very authentic way. The sidewalks are still wood, and not touristy manufactured wood, but the good ol’ wavy, bumpy, splintery kind.

The roll back down the hill is fast and flowy. The road surface itself is very well kept, but sand, salt and gravel can be present. The hills in the area are prone to loose rock falling onto the road. Luckily the hill is on the right as you ascend, so the downhill return is far enough away from the hillside to stay clean. I keep an eye out on the way up for any problem spots on the way down.

Rolling back into Carson
A stop at Morgan Mill Road River Access parking area to see the Carson River and use the porta.

This is a very challenging ride. Taking in the views is a great excuse for taking short breaks.

Climb profile
Route and climb profile

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