The usual clear, crisp Comstock air was filled with dust over the weekend as hundreds of motorcycle racers swarmed down Six Mile Canyon Road and around Virginia City for the 34th annual Virginia City Grand Prix.
Irving Powers of Mark Twain didn't quite make his goal of finishing in the top five Saturday, but he managed a 9th-place finish overall and 8th in the professional class.
"My fourth lap was the worst," he said. "I ran out of water and didn't eat enough. But I had a good ride."
Powers, 18, has raced for about eight years. He said this year there were faster riders, but the 23-mile course was not harder for him.
"It was different, but it didn't seem any harder than last year," he said. "Maybe not as fast."
On Saturday, 352 riders took to the dirt, with 411 more going on Sunday, vying for trophies and cash prizes for the top two finishers overall.
Riders pay an entry fee of about $70, and often have to get sponsors to help cover the costs of competition.
Professionals, experts and amateurs raced on Saturday, while novices, women and bombers, or classic bikes, raced on Sunday.
On Saturday the top prize went to Ross Neely, 16, of Chester, Calif., who beat out veteran Nick Fain of Virginia City.
"It was a great course," Fain said. "But I'm out of shape. It was tough. I'm really going to be feeling it today, but it was great."
Fain, 30, organized the Virginia City Grand Prix for about three years before turning it over to the Virginia City Motorcycle Club.
He said that of 30 club members, only six raced this weekend. The rest worked the race. It takes more than 50 volunteers to put on the event.
Sunday's winner was Steven Pirnik of Gilroy, Calif., with Jason Alosi of Reno in second place overall.
Both days the pit area was filled with riders, family and friends. Those who weren't racing took turns in the pits, filling the bikes with gasoline and the riders with water.
Louis Night, 48, of Garden Valley, Calif., got back to the pit after one lap and had to think about doing any more.
"I was hoping to do three," he said as he gulped down a bottle of water. He is only in his second year of racing, having done two laps in 2007.
He said the course was less technical but tough.
"There's some tough spots where people are getting jammed up," he said. "You just do as many laps as you can get in the three hours."
Storey County Volunteer Fire Chief Joe Curtis said there were about a dozen injuries in the event, with three riders transported to Renown Medical Center on Sunday.
One of those injuries occurred Sunday to a 16-year-old rider who crashed his bike and then had another bike run over his leg, according to Larry Cunnally of Virginia City, who stopped to help.
"I couldn't leave him there," he said. "I carried him out on my back. It happened right in front of me."
Other mishaps occurred to Chris White of Gunnison, Colo., who lost a radiator on his first Grand Prix when the bike in front of him kicked back a rock.
"I think I made it about four miles," he said. "But I'll be back here next year."
Casey Segale, 24, had a brand-new 450 Honda break down.
"I'll still have it next year," he said. "I'm here to hang out with everybody mostly."
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-7351.
Ross Neely of Chester, Calif.
Nick Fain of Virginia City
Shane Esposito of RSM, Calif.
Steve Garnett of Carson City
Cody Wallis of Reno
Rodney Spencer Jr. of San Martin, Calif.
Sean Berryman of Reno
Robert Underwood of Coleville, Calif.
Irving Powers of Dayton
Nathan Tiearney of Carson City
Steven Pirnik of Gilroy, Calif.
Jason Alosi of Reno
Tayla Dodson of Truckee, Calif.
Don Moreda of Petaluma, Calif.
Jake Osborn of Sparks
Nicole Lulis of Brentwood, Calif.
Brian Cluyage of Eureka, Nev.
Byron Gumundson of Nice, Calif.
Randy Cronin of South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Pat Watson of Fairfield, Calif.