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Sierra Endurance Rides – Part 3

by david on July 30, 2013

This is the third article in a series for ActiveReno that describes some long road rides in the Reno/Tahoe area (generally 50-100 miles). These routes are good if you are planning on getting into shape for a target century or other non-competitive event, or if you are looking to have some fun and prepare for longer competitive events.  In this series of articles Scot Ferguson will talk about the ride, the challenges, and some other tips about long distance cycling.

Thanks for checking out the third ride in the Sierra Endurance rides series! This ride is a neat one, but beware that it is quite challenging! The ride requires doing a 3 mile dirt road climb on a rough road, and then about 5 additional miles of dirt on a slight descent and then some flat sections. These dirt sections wouldn’t be that bad on a mountain or cross bike, but the rest of the ride is on road and totals 100+ miles, so the road bike is a good choice! I did this ride on Sunday, June 30th 2013 with Jeff Stein of Victory Velo Racing and Tyler Thompson from Velo Reno team. Check out the detailed Strava entry for this ride!

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We started from Walden’s coffee house in Reno after a bit of breakfast and coffee. I was sure to fuel up well with a big burrito, and since we were going to ride at a reasonable, endurance pace (for me mostly below 220W), I was able to stomach the food. I also filled up 3 bottles of water- 2 on the bike and one in the center jersey pocket. Finally, because the ride does contain some dirt sections which can cause flats, I put on sturdy tires (Gatorskin 25 mm’s are great!) and brought 2 tubes and a hand pump in addition to my CO2’s .

We headed out of Reno through Verdi, a very popular local route. In Verdi we took a right on Bridge street, passed the Verdi Elementary school, and then a right on Dog Valley/ Henness Pass road. Shortly up the climb the road turns to dirt, and we started the low cadence climb up the dirt section of Henness Pass Road. The key to riding dirt is to stay centered on the bike, but keep a good amount of weight on the back tire when climbing so you don’t slip out. Also, look ahead to pick the best line, with less loose material and rocks. Often times the best line is on one side of the road, and the best side of the road switches so you have to motor across the loose stuff- in this case push it to get across. It is hard to get started again if you have to put a foot down, so use a round pedal stroke, stay balanced and focused until the top, about 3 miles!

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Jeff Climbing the dirt section of Henness Pass Road- focused and patient! 

Also, pace yourself so you don’t go too fast and end up pinch flatting the tube like Tyler did!

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Tyler fixing a flat on Dog Valley Road. 

At the top of the climb the road is still dirt, and there is a little flat OHV type parking area. From there you want to continue to the left on Henness pass road, and not descend to Dog Valley. The road from this point to the end of Stampede Dam Road is flat initially, then heads down at a reasonable grade. Remember to control speed down this road to avoid flats! The views of Dog Valley from this point are spectacular!

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You will finally come to a left hand turn where you get back on pavement along Stampede Dam Road. Follow this route south and take a right after the short climb to head across the Stampede Reservoir dam on Dog Valley Road. The road eventually turns to dirt again at the end of the reservoir, just past the campgrounds and boat launch. There is a kiosk at the point where the road turns to dirt- it is the end of the Emigrant trail mountain bike/hiking trail that connects Prosser and Stampede reservoirs. The dirt road that goes south toward 89 from here is very manageable on a road bike, and when the road takes a right on pavement toward highway 89 you are done with the dirt! Hope you enjoy it; I really like riding dirt on the road bike!

We hit highway 89 and headed into Truckee for a coffee and pastry stop. From there we headed up highway 89 to Tahoe City, a climb, but very manageable and never steep at all. The route follows the Truckee river and there is a lot of traffic both on the highway and in rafts of people floating the river to cool off. We headed East on North Lake Boulevard / Lakeshore Boulevard all the way around to SR 431/ Mount Rose Highway. We stopped at Kings beach for a little photo op and a couple of convenience stores to fill up on water. The whole way around the North shore of Lake Tahoe was beautiful and is a nice rolling route with some small climbs. Jeff and Tyler sprinted for all of the city limit signs, which there were like 8, and blew my legs off!

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Tyler at Kings Beach. 

The last Climb up to Mount Rose summit is hard, but a relatively consistent 5-6% grade for 8 miles. It was super-hot and took us about 50 minutes to complete. Make sure you have enough water for the climb. At this point, we were pretty tired and I was focused on having a consistent effort that wasn’t going to blow me up- a good thing to do when preparing for a target event. There are great views of the Mount Rose wilderness and of Lake Tahoe from this road.

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Jeff after completing the backside Mount Rose Climb. 

The descent down the east side of Mount Rose highway is a fast, twisty 10 miles. Be careful on this one, and check the tires before heading down. It can be a fun one, but don’t lose control! The last part of the ride was heading back to Reno via Thomas Creek Road, Holcomb road, and Lakeside. We were really suffering by this point and my Garmin was reading 112 degrees. Ouch.

In the end it was a great ride with some good friends. If you are going to try this one be sure to be prepared- it took 6 hours so start early, eat and drink well, and bring tubes and water. Good luck!

Scot Ferguson is a USAC level 2 coach and certified in Power Based Training (CPBT). Scot is a long time collegiate cyclist and raced for many years with the UNR cycling team and Team Clif Bar Cycling. He now coaches the UNR cycling team as well as his own personal clients and strives to help them succeed. Additional information about his coaching programs can be found at www.winningmovecoaching.com.

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