Gambling on Lady Luck in Reno/Tahoe

Pushing bikes through snow at 7,800 feet in mid-April didn’t come as a surprise – that’s the gamble we took going to Reno/Tahoe this past Easter.  The yearning for warm sunshine and drier trails trounced doubts that Lady Luck wouldn’t be on our side. The online chatter was all about the unusually low snowpack this year and trails opening up. Covert phone calls during work hours confirmed that local bike shops had rentals available. But Lady Luck can be fickle and as we found out, she loved us some days and mocked us on others.

What the ‘biggest little city in the world’ may lack in glitz and glam compared to Vegas is made up for by access to many riding areas within a one to two hour drive around Reno: Peavine, Dry Pond, Carson City, Sparks, Lake Tahoe, Truckee, etc. Rich at Great Basin Bicycles and his “how many miles do you wanna ride?” advice pointed us to trails that would give us a good taste of the riding available.

Fuel for riding – Huevos rancheros from Peg’s, the best breakfast place in downtown Reno.

Reno – Peavine Mountain

First up was Peavine Mountain, it’s 8,200 ft peak easily seen a short distance north of Reno. The Poedunk Trail Club–the name a play on John Poe who mined Peavine in the 1870’s–build and maintain non-motorized trails including the newly built Halo trail, 6.5 miles of sea-level lung puffing climbs and flowy descents with rocky sections. Combine this with the Keystone trail sections for a nice 12-mile loop ride.

The views can be distracting on the Halo trail.

There is a maze of trails on Peavine that you can connect for long rides…if you know where you’re going. Until the Poedunks install all trail markers later this year, get a local to guide you or, as we did, spin your wheels in the general direction indicated by the yet-to-be-updated trail map.  Worked like a charm for us. Now if only the Bronson had been available to rent from Blackrock Bicycles…

All other Peavine Mountain trail markers will eventually be like this one.

Lake Tahoe – The Flume trail…almost

We couldn’t go to Reno without at least one day in Lake Tahoe, famous for it’s tropical blue water, pricey houses and the Flume Trail. Too early in the year to rent bikes and get a shuttle from Flume Mountain Bikes, Bob and Ken at Shoreline of Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe set us up with a couple of Norco Fazes.  With no recent trail reports from the bike shop, we chose to head up to the Flume Trail via the closer trailhead at Spooner Lake rather than Tunnel Creek.

North Canyon Road leading to Marlette Lake summit and basin

Even with only 2:1 odds, we chose wrong. A couple of miles and a few blowdowns in to the ride, a lone mountain biker coming back down warned us of the snow slog waiting for us at the Marlette Lake summit. Yup. The one to two feet of soft snow made for a slow last mile to the lake. I’m sure Lady Luck was sitting poolside back at our hotel shaking her head at us but when you’ve travelled so far, you’re more willing to do what it takes to make something of your day.

We packed it in and packed it out alright (photo by CraigH)

Truckee – Following the Emigrant

Unlike the Donner party, we had great luck with everything in Truckee, California including the bonus of having 650B bikes to ride for the first time. With two Trek Remedy 7’s in to the back of our SUV, we headed for the Emigrant trail.

Photo by CraigH

Recommended by Dennis from Paco’s Bike and Ski as a good early-season ride, we had a blast riding the 15 miles of rolling, swoopy, rocky singletrack. To maintain our euphoria-laced souls after the ride, we finished the day with locally made sausages and several excellent choices from the 40 beers on tap at Truckee’s Mellow Yellow Craft Beer House.

Mellow Yellow’s impressive beer list. It took longer to read it than drink a beer.

Like the penny slot machines, this trip turned out to be about small wins. We had sunshine and great post-ride food and eats; sampled different trails and bikes; and had fun. Lady Luck may not have been fully on our side this time but you can bet we’ll hit the jackpot on our next trip to Reno/Tahoe in prime riding season.

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