by Curtis Fong, “the Guy from Tahoe”
Just because the kids are back in school and it’s September, it doesn’t mean that summer is over, and if you’re thinking of storing your camping gear or bicycles — STOP! There’s plenty of summer left and cycling activities and events continuing through out September and into October.
September is one of the best cycling months of the year! The weather is perfect and there’s lots going on for Nevada Cyclists.
The weekend after Labor Day offers events on both sides of Nevada. Saturday, September 7 is the 3rd Annual Race the Rails in Ely. Both road and mountain bikers race the train out and back from Ely… a 10 mile mountain bike course and 25 mile road bike course are offered; proceeds benefit the Great Basin Trail Alliance. For more information, visit: https://elynevada.net/race-the-rails/
It all starts and finishes at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino at South Shore Lake Tahoe. This year’s event is in partnership with the National Psoriasis Foundation to create awareness and raise funds through their national team. Bike the West (which is me) produces this event and comes complete with 5 rest stops with a variety of foods & energy drink, including lunch on course, bike mechanics at all rest stops and transport services if one gets tired or wants to move forward on the course, event t-shirt, event water bottle, finishers medal and great after ride meal & party with live band at the Hard Rock’s Pool. For more information on registering to ride Tour de Tahoe visit: https://www.bikethewest.com/tour-de-tahoe/
The following weekend, starting Friday, September 13 (Friday the 13th?!?!) is the 36th Anniversary Silver State 508 ultra cycling race, recognized as the “The Toughest 48 hours in Sports”. Solo competitors, two-person relay and four-person relay divisions are offered with sub-categories for tandems, recumbents, fixed gear and classic bikes.
Starting and finishing at the Hilton Garden Inn in Reno, the course takes competitors up through Virginia City and out US 50 to Eureka and back. If you are traveling out the Loneliest Road this weekend, Share the Road with these endurance cyclists and teams. The solo course record is 26:24:00 covering the 508 mile distance. The Silver State 508 is also a RAAM – Race Across America Qualifier event. For more info and to register please visit: https://www.the508.net/#intro
As the Silver State 508 competitors are finishing up on Sunday morning, September 15, the Edible Pedal 100 will be kicking off from Bowers Mansion in Washoe Valley. This ride is produced by the Rotary Club of Reno Sunrisers benefitting a variety of youth related activities from scholarships, The Reno Bike Project and the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway.
This is a fully supported ride, not a race and has a variety of distance options from 10 miles, 32, 54, 74 and a full 100 mile century with the course routed through Carson City, Carson Valley, over Kingsbury Grade to Lake Tahoe and back down Spooner Grade. The 100 mile option offers 6,879 Feet of vertical climbing. I’ve worked with this ride and have supported several times driving SAG Sherpa for needy riders looking for assistance or a lift. For more information to register, visit: http://www.ediblepedal100.org
Then comes the Fall-Autumnal Equinox on Monday, September 23 and the first ride day of the 28th Annual OATBRAN – One Awesome Tour Bike Ride Across Nevada. This is another Bike the West event and my labor of love, as I get the privilege to host cyclists from all over the country on this fully supported — motel accommodations — bicycle tour across U.S. Highway 50, “The Loneliest Road in America”. The tour meets the prior day, Sunday 22 at the Montbleu Casino Resort at Lake Tahoe’s South Shore with overnight accommodations and a welcome dinner, with participant introductions and ride orientation.
Monday, September 23, OATBRAN heads out for a total of 5 ride days, from town to town covering 420 miles with overnight stays in Fallon, Austin, Eureka & Ely, and a final ride day on Friday, September 27 to Baker, finishing up at the Utah border and the Border Inn Restaurant Casino. Fully supported with a rest stop every 20 miles, including a daily lunch stop. Breakfasts & dinners provided by a non-profits and accommodations in motels in each town, including checking in to a Cell at the Jailhouse Motel in Ely. The Loneliest Road from Lake Tahoe to Great Basin National Park. Most participants have no idea that Nevada is the most mountainous State in the lower 48, nor do they realize the depth and beauty of basin & range with 15,000 feet of climbing, with most riding at altitudes above 6000 feet in elevation.
As the Ride Director I also get to play tour guide. I enjoy our evening ride debriefings and next day ride orientation talks with the participants to introduce them to each community and the rich western history of Nevada with stories of the westward migration to the gold fields in California and the Silver Mining Boom of the Comstock Lode in Virginia City. The Legendary Pony Express. The Lincoln Highway and sites from Sand Mountain, to Stokes Castle & The International Hotel & Bar; Hickison Summit Petroglyphs, The Eureka Opera House & The Owl Club; The Nevada Northern Railway and the Ward Charcoal Ovens, not forgetting about Great Basin National Park. So many sites to see along this route by bicycle and not traveling 75 mph in a vehicle.
What Happens on Hwy 50 – Stays on Hwy 50, as we have also had two separate couples meet on our tour, became ride buddies, fell in love, and returned to ride the following year as married couples. Yes, the road does get lonely. But it is also good for one’s soul… A few years back, I had a participant at the end of one ride day tell me, “I had the most wonderful experience today”. And, what was that, I asked. “I stopped for five minutes on the side of the road and I didn’t hear a sound”.
When I decided to create OATBRAN and traveled Route 50 back and forth, doing all the research, meeting tourism people and groups in all the cities, and planning logistics on where rest stops could be positioned, etc. I told myself that with hard work and good planning I can make this work. I had grandiose ideas that this could be a huge ride open to several hundred bicyclists and camping was the style of tour I envisioned. Then realized this ride was not for everyone, but for a special person who might be seeking the wide open spaces and challenge of riding 420 mile in 5 days. When I made the decision to produce the ride, I sat down with the task of writing a brochure that could be printed and distributed with an entry form, etc. Remember 28 years ago, there was no internet or online registration pay portals. Traditionally, a brochure in a local bike shops was the method of getting the word out.
I thought hard about how I would entice people to come ride their bikes across Nevada. I put myself back in time and in a mindset of a Pony Express Rider and I wrote these words:
Imagine… A lone rider stares out at the horizon and the trail that lay before him. It will be a long day challenging the elements, climbing and descending summits, and facing the solitude of the wide-open spaces. He takes a long drink of water as a welcomed breeze greets the beads of sweat on his brow and the fragrant smell of sage and juniper fills the air. As he mounts up, he glances back from where he has already come. As far as he can see, he is surrounded by the awesome beauty of the Great Basin … massive mountain ranges that rise from wide valley floors. It is this panorama that reminds him of what it was that brought him west in the first place. As he rides out, visions of a hearty meal, a cold drink and tales of the day’s adventure shared with other riders, is what he looks forward to at the end of the day.
Needless to say, this may also scare some riders off from wanting to participate, but this is what motivates me to continue to produce the tour… I am thankful that the then Nevada Commission on Tourism through the Pony Express Territory took a gamble on me and was able to to get a grant to market the event… My Love for the Silver State continues to grow, year after year…and mile after mile… On the Loneliest Road! The 28th Annual OATBRAN is set for Sunday through Saturday, September 22 – 28, 2019… For more information and to register, visit: https://www.bikethewest.com/oatbran-one-awesome-tour-bike-ride-across-nevada/
Another destination on “The Loneliest Road” is Fallon, and on Saturday, October 5, The Churchill County Parks & Recreation Dept. is hosting their Annual NO HILL HUNDRED.
Starting and finishing from the Churchill County Fairgrounds. I had originally consulted with them many years about producing this ride and have ridden it a couple of time in past years. They do a good job supporting this ride and there are no hills. Well, there is a small one on the route and in tongue in cheek fashion there is also a sign posted stating “THIS IS NOT A HILL” Gotta’ Love it! They have 3 distance options, including a 30 Mile route, 60 Mile route and a full 100 Mile Century.
For more information or to register, visit: http://www.churchillcounty.org/index.aspx?NID=483
Yet, there’s still another bicycling event also on a lonely road, US 93, in eastern Nevada. The annual Park to Park Pedal Extreme in Lincoln County.
Set for Saturday, October 12, Park to Park offers a 40 mile route, 60 mile route and a full 100 mile Extreme route. This ride starts and finishes at Kershaw-Ryan State Park and rides through the railroad town of Caliente and the mining town of Pioche and tours through three more Nevada State Parks: Cathedral Gorge, Spring Valley and Echo Canyon.
Plenty of Nevada scenic beauty and history along this ride, all followed up with Dutch Oven Fest. For more information and to register, visit: https://parktoparkpedal.com/about-park-to-park-pedal/