After this past mega winter, many are itching to get on a bike and roll on the dirt at one of Tahoe’s mountain biking trails. Unfortunately, it will be awhile before much of the single track will be snow and mud free. No worries, now is the time to take your road bike out for a spin. The road traffic is light compared to summer. If you pick the right day and time, the temperatures for riding are just about perfect. Spring is also a good time to venture to Reno and the Carson Valley to ride.
One of my favorite spring rides is Sierra Valley. I like to start in the quiet, little town of Sierraville, 25 miles north of Truckee on State Route 89. A loop of the valley via State Route 89, Sierra County routes A-23 and A-24 and State Route 49 is about 45 miles, but you can also take several different routes to lower your mileage. The riding is level with the exception of a couple of short hills. This time of year the valley is full of happy cows and a massive number of birds in an amazing variety of species.
I took a mid-May ride and the valley was wet, wet, wet; the water beautifully reflected the surrounding mountain ridges. When the water starts to drain, the flowers will come out in abundance just in time for my favorite local ride – The Tour De Manure on June 17. This 62-mile ride is a fundraiser for the Sierraville Fire Department. Expect awesome food, a fun band and friendly folks. For more information, visit tourdemanure.org.
Quick tip: The wind in the valley often picks up in the afternoon; go early. Be sure to stop for a quick lunch or chocolate shake in Smithneck Farms Café on Main Street in Sierraville.
When the water starts to drain, the flowers will come out in abundance just in time for my favorite local ride – The Tour De Manure.
Donner Lake to Cisco Grove
A perennial Tahoe-Truckee favorite ride begins at Donner Lake, climbs over Donner Pass on Old Highway 40, then continues on to a turnaround point at Cisco Grove. It’s about 40 miles out and back. While the climb to the pass is steep, it’s just a bit more than 3 miles and the views of Donner Lake and the rocky crags dotted with climbers make it worth the effort. From the top of the pass, enjoy a long, mostly gentle descent along the Yuba River. Once you pass over Interstate 80, the road is lightly traveled and a fun and fast pedal. You do pay the piper, however, when climbing back up the gentle, but long hill to Donner Pass. It all ends with a thrill: the steep descent back to Donner Lake. The view on the downhill is magnificent, but be sure to get off your bike to enjoy it.
Quick tip: You can also start at Cisco Grove and bike the long, steady uphill at the beginning and finish with a breeze of a downhill. On a warm day, stop for a swim from one of the Donner Lake’s public piers.
Tahoe City to Truckee and Glenshire
This route follows the bursting-with-water Truckee River all the way to Glenshire. From Tahoe City, take the separate bike trail to Olympic Valley and then follow the bike lane along State Route 89 to Truckee. In Truckee, turn onto West River Street and proceed to the end of East River Street, where you can catch the Truckee River Legacy Trail. This trail parallels the river for 5 miles or so before a last climb up to a parking lot at the beginning of the Glenshire subdivision.
For the energetic, keep going forward on Glenshire Drive to Boca and Stampede reservoirs. Or you can try The Triangle, made famous as part of the Lake Tahoe Ironman. Bike Tahoe City to Truckee to Kings Beach and back to Tahoe City. The climb to the top of Brockway is a steep one.
Quick tip: Bike midweek and midmorning to avoid tourist and commuting traffic between Tahoe City and Truckee.
Verdi to downtown Reno
Park in Verdi off Interstate 80 and ride along the Truckee River on roads, a bike trail and a portion of the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway to downtown Reno and back. Aside from the rushing river, there is plenty to see from a number of riverside parks and riverfront homes, to the hustle of the meeting of whitewater and skyscrapers downtown.
Quick tip: Bring some cash to enjoy lunch along the river in downtown Reno.
Kingsbury Grade to Diamond Valley
Park where the mountains meet the Carson Valley at the bottom of Kingsbury Grade and ride on Foothill Road south. The ride is gentle, but the meeting of green ranch lands and startling snow-covered peaks high above is a jaw dropper. Especially inspiring is Jobs Peak, some 6,000 feet higher in elevation.
From Foothill Road, turn right on Fredericksburg, which becomes Foothill again when it crosses into California. Carefully ride over Nevada State Route 88 and meet a junction. Here begin a loop. Straight ahead is Diamond Valley Road that climbs through Washoe tribal lands, then meanders through the lush Diamond Valley to Woodsford. From here a brief jaunt on Nevada State Route 88 leads to a swift descent along its namesake on Carson River Road and back to the loop junction. Here you can backtrack to your car.
Quick tip: This valley gets windy in the afternoon.