Nevada History by John C. Evanoff is excited to present this series of articles by noted author and poet, John C. Evanoff. John will tell us about Nevada history and cover some of the more remote and unusual things to see and do in Northern Nevada.

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Favorite Treks of Reno #8 of 10

June, 2009
By John Evanoff

Number eight of my top ten-list of favorite treks around the Truckee Meadows, takes in a bike ride. You don’t need an especially expensive bicycle, but it should be between a tour or road bike and a hybrid mountain bike. A regular mountain bike is just too heavy for this long neighborhood boulevard route around Reno.

First, take your bike, a bunch of water and fruit or snacks, a camera, a comfortable helmet and call up a couple good bike friends to come along, although I’ve made this tour plenty of times alone.

The ride starts at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. You can get there by going north on Sierra Street to San Rafael Drive or going north on Washington Street into the park. You can park anywhere for the day and I find it comforting to know my vehicle will be safe with the constant patrol of police and park personnel. Pack up and saddle your ride to head east out of the park to Sierra Street and then to North McCarran Blvd and westward. This first part of the ride will definitely warm your legs up, but once you get past Kings Row, it is downhill for a couple miles.

There are two rides I’ll discuss that come with this trek because as any cycle enthusiast knows, you always have more than one trip or route in mind when you go for a ride because of traffic. The first is heading west from North McCarran Blvd at Mae Ann Avenue which will take you under Interstate 80 and down to West 4th Street via Mesa Park Road. Head east on West 4th Street till you take a right and head south on Mayberry Drive over the Truckee River. Then take Mayberry Drive all the way to Hunter Lake Road and take a right. Heading south on Hunter Lake to Plumb Lane, then head east till you reach Lakeside Drive and then head south again. You’ll stay close along Virginia Lake on either the west or east side which meets again at the end and progresses south past Moana Lane all the way to Bartley Ranch Road and Bartley Ranch Regional Park on your left just before Windy Hill. Take a rest at Bartley Ranch, catch your breath and get a bite to eat at this spot. The view from Windy Hill is great in the morning, but the traffic is sometimes tough because the road is narrow, so I like to kick back and enjoy the park to relax for a bit. A few minutes later, you’re back on the bike heading north on Lakeside to Ridgeview Drive where you take a left and go west to Plumas Street. Take Plumas Street past South McCarran back to West Moana Lane and head west to Skyline Blvd. This hill will test your thighs again until you reach South McCarran Blvd. There are a couple of parks along the way to rest including Horseman’s Park and Gojack Park. Once you are on South McCarran Blvd, the loop takes you all the way back to where you started at Rancho San Rafael.

The second ride is a bit more exercise, longer, but includes the entire McCarran Blvd loop, which is a great ride on an early Sunday morning. For those of you who enjoy a good workout, but at an occasional casual stop and go pace, this is the ride for you. Along the loop, there are a number of parks to stop and relax at including Mira Loma Park in East Reno and Shelly Park in Sparks at the Baring Blvd intersection. McCarran Blvd took a couple decades to complete. In the many years between, I found it relaxing to watch its progress and developed a fondness for the variations in neighborhoods along its path. Summertime is the best time to ride the McCarran Loop and if you take the time to enjoy the individual neighborhoods by riding through them on occasion, you will be enchanted with their friendly nature.

In the past, around Reno and along the Truckee River, there were but a few roads to get around on a bike. McCarran has made it a possibility to get almost anywhere to any neighborhood in the Truckee Meadows without too much vehicle conflict. The McCarran loop to west Reno is most enjoyable early in the morning on any Sunday, but any day is ok, as long as you take it on in the early morning. Many riders like to take the loop in groups which allows for a comradeship to form involving everyone in the pack to enjoy the event as more than an exercise. I find it beneficial both ways.

From the time I first rode my three speed Schwinn bike in 1956 from West Seventh Street to Virginia City to Stead Air Force Base and to Verdi, I’ve always enjoyed riding in and around the Truckee Meadows. Although I’ve had some near brushes with car fenders over those many years and with many bikes, I’ve never been afraid to take on the McCarran Loop nor the Lakeside, Moana, Plumas and Skyline routes, simply because the neighborhoods have a lot of bike riders within them and the roads are made for us. The nice thing about the loop road is the ample areas for stops at parks and picnicking. Aside from the traffic lights, a common disappointment when you are getting a good rhythm going, the ride is great and close to home. Other rides, like around Washoe Lake and the Franktown road; the North Virginia Street ride to Hallelujah Junction; and the ride to Verdi and back are nice rides but intimidating on occasion because of traffic, mainly in the form of semi-trucks.

Reno has always had many bike groups including the more than a century old Reno Wheelmen who started their organization in 1896 on a bet. Because of its elevation and well ridden bike paths, much can be said for the city to become more involved in attracting this element to its streets. June’s multi-day Tour de Nez held in Reno is an event that grows in popularity each year and with it brings riders who immediately fall in love with the region. The mountains and high desert stretches of roads offer the enthusiast a chance to hone their strength and endurance. Several famous bicyclists made the area their home training ground including the LeMond family whose son Greg won the 1990 Tour de France, a first for the United States, and without winning a single individual stage. Inga Thompson was the most notable woman cyclist from the area recording more than thirty 1st place finishes in some of the toughest women’s road races around the world from 1986 to 1992. The history of bicycling in the region is more than noteworthy and when you test your stamina on its many well ridden roads, the Truckee Meadows becomes more than a diversion and much more like a dream for those in need of a two wheel treat. The inclination around Reno is to take more rides and then the hunt is on for the next ride that raises your level of enthusiasm for even more.

Take a camera to shoot your friends and the occasional landscape or city/county park stop. You will always enjoy the ride with others and showing them your pictures will remind you of this favorite trek, my eighth favorite of my top ten list.

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