John Mata Jr
Wing World Magazine
Aug 2014 issue
If you were to plot out where most GWRRA events have been held over the past decade, you’d find a lot of dots east of the Mississippi. GWRRA has tons of Members on that side of the country, so on the one hand, it makes sense that we’d host events there. But if you’re a West Coaster or an East Coast denizen who likes to travel West, you haven’t had a lot of options. Well, until now. Come 2015, GWRRA is bringing a new event to the West Coast of the United States. The Reno Rendezvous; and it’s going to be amazing. Held at a huge resort in a very popular riding area, this is another situation where you can spend your days at the event spending time in the saddle or just kick back at the hotel with the many amenities they have to offer. Mark Reno Rendezvous on your calendar, because it’s going to be one heck of a ride. With that in mind, we started thinking about all of our East Coast Members and how they may not know much about Reno or surrounding riding spots. So today we’re kicking off a series of articles about the Reno area and Reno Rendezvous, all designed to teach you everything you need to know about the location. By the time the big show hits, you’ll be an expert in all things Reno. So without further delay, we present to you the first article about riding in the Reno area on the following pages. Enjoy.
Reno, the Biggest Little City in the World, is now the destination for a brand - new touring motorcycle convention. Reno Rendezvous is the latest GWRRA sanctioned event and the Reno, NV area is a perfect location for high impact riding. In the very immediate proximity is Lake Tahoe, multiple national forests, and tons of back roads. Don’t let the end of the line trick you; this event isn't focused on sitting around a blackjack table all weekend. The road you choose to travel to Reno is the experience. The city just happens to be situated smack in the middle of amazing country for touring riders.
Once you’re there it’s a kickback city, but we want to focus on getting your blood pumping and the wheels turning. Let’s examine a few killer routes to take while you’re cruising in or out of town; or just to escape the sounds of slot machines. Get revved up and ready because here we go!
LAKE TAHOE LOOP
Let’s first visit the 119 mile excursion to one of the regions most gorgeous sites, Lake Tahoe. No matter where in the country you’re coming from, the loop is perfect because the ride starts and stops in Reno. Before you head out though, here’s a rundown of some things you’ll see along the ride: serene meadows; steep, windy cliff side roads; mountain and valley views; and for that “ ahhhh” moment, the glorious sight of the lake is the real jewel of the journey.
The roads there and back are all pretty smooth, but here’s a little precaution before you head out. There are portions of the route on U.S. Highway 395 north just outside of Reno that are easy roads to ride and they’re beautiful to boot. But as the ride progresses after taking CA-70 west to CA-49 south the terrain drastically changed. CA-49 changes to CA-89 south and when it does you’ll be making your way through Tahoe National Forest down to Truckee,CA. The grade peaks and dips often, there are sharp turns at high elevations, and at some points there’s not much room between the road and 8,000 foot drop off. This isn't meant to discourage you from making the trek, but rather a warning that this is not a beginner’s route. Check your brakes and make sure your bike is ready for a ride this skill level.
With that disclaimer out of the way, Lake Tahoe’s Kings Beach and Crystal Bay are less than 20 miles away. There’s a solid five miles of waterfront road during the trip, so this is an excellent place to break for lunch and enjoy the clear blue scenery. From this point, the ride back to Reno is about 40 miles, but it’s a route filled with hairpin turns and more riding through the national forest. The sights are unbelievable, but make sure to keep your eyes on the road. If you packed a camera, don’t worry, there are plenty of places to stop and capture a few memories safely. To get back to the home base, take the NV-431 heading northeast to U.S Highway 395.
CARSON CITY LOOP
The drive down to Carson City is filled with similar twisty, elevated panoramic views on well maintained roads. Mileage wise, it’s not a big of a commitment as the Tahoe Loop, as it clocks in about 60 miles to complete. To start you take highway 395 to highway 341 also known as Geiger Grade Road. When on highway 341 get ready to head up the mountain where the real fun begins. Hairpin turns are abundant here, so make sure to keep all the attention on the road ahead.
Approximately 10 miles from highway 395 is Virginia City, an old mining settlement that was once a booming community in years past. You’ll more likely want to stop here to take in the sights as this place is filled with attractions built around the city’s history. There’s the VT Railroad ride and tour, and a few gold and silver mines and mills that are available to check out. There’s plenty of antique equipment on display, and to see the inner workings of tunnel systems of the old mine systems is rather incredible. But if this kind of thing is not your cup of joe, don’t fret. There’s more to see in them thar hills. Those who like the spookier pieces of history we be frightfully happy to hear that this city is also rich in haunting stories. There are walking tours that go through parts of the city that are said to have the most ghostly activity. Just down the road on route 342 is Gold Hill, where you will find the Gold Hill Hotel & Saloon, a place noted for heavy paranormal sightings.
Got the heebie jeebies yet?
Well then this might be an ideal time to get on the road again toward Nevada’s capital Carson City. It’s only 15 minutes away. Once you reach Carson City, you can check out the Nevada State Museum and Mint. There you will find another walk through mine and a railroad museum that showcases five steam locomotives and several fully restored coaches and freight cars. So far this loop had offered a full day’s worth of cool stuff to check out.
From Carson City, hit interstate 580 north which will eventually lead you right back to Reno. But before you complete the loop you will pass along the calming landscape of Washoe Lake. This is a great ride that offers a nice mixture of road types and eye candy.
TAHOE NATIONAL FOREST
Those of you looking for a more extended ride will be interested in this cruise through the picturesque landscape of Tahoe National Forest. Following the familiar roads of the Lake Tahoe Loop, this ride can be shortened, but we will set our sights on the larger picture here and look at the 220 mile romp through the wilderness of the forest.
Like the other two routes, this one also starts and ends in the Reno city limits. To get out of town, take interstate 80 west across the California border. The first portion of the trip will also take you through Truckee past Donner Lake to the clearing on the side of the national park. There are lots of smaller bodies of water along this route. Once you hit CA-20 west to Nevada City make a stop. This is the perfect stop to refuel your body and your bike. The city has a great old town feel and features all the amenities you’ll need for this longer day trip. After you've rejuvenated yourself, hop back on the bike and take CA-49. This road will lead you all the way back across the Tahoe National forest towards Reno.
Now this is where you to be if getting away from the city life is what drives you. Lots of greenery is what you’ll find here, and all the roads are winding and exciting. This road is also filled with straightaway sections as well as hilly portions, so expect to get a hearty helping of varying enjoyment. In some spots you’ll actually find yourself at the bottom of the valley. The roads are in good shape along this route, so have no fear of hungry potholes or loose gravel. This is the stretch that really makes this extended loop worthwhile. The loop will take a good chunk of the day so plan ahead leave early.
GET READY FOR A GOOD TIME
Reno Rendezvous will prove to be an amazing time for those looking to put some miles on their bike. These three riding routes are the major excursions that start and end right outside your hotel
Depending on where you’re coming from you might be able to sneak a portion of the loops in or out of town. If sitting inside a stale casino all day just isn't your style , there are lots of land with reasonable riding distance that is just waiting to be explored. History and nature enthusiasts will be the real winners this weekend and that is a sure bet. Pack your riding essentials and your sense of exploration and get ready for the unforgettable few days of riding. Don’t gamble on a good time , come prepared for one.