Carson City Off-Road series begins with hardcore routes | NevadaAppeal.com
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Carson City Off-Road series begins with hardcore routes

When it comes to shredding rubber on gnarly hills, it’s all about Carson City’s terrains based off the 900 registered riders participating in the 2017 Carson City Off-Road event sponsored by Epic Rides, today and Sunday.

Since the event’s debut last year, the off-road bicycle competition put a spotlight on Nevada’s capital, making it one of the most rad destinations in the state for mountain biking.

That can’t be argued against as 31 professional females and 61 professional males will make their way to the finish line this weekend — including Lance Armstrong, seen roaming around and warming up for Sunday’s back country race.

According to the Carson City Visitors Bureau, Carson City’s revenue in tourism increased 64 percent over the last four years, from $12.3 million to $20 million.

That includes the completion of the Ash to Kings Trail in 2015, along with its Community Linakge Award from American Trails.

The event itself is one of the best investments the capital has made, said Joel Dunn, executive director of the Visitors Bureau.

“Epic Rides is more than just a good fit in Carson City,” he said during the event’s first day. “It has made an impact in our rebranding and we’re seeing a dynamic change.”

Randy Gaa, secretary of Muscle Powered, a local organization focused on community bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, said they raised up to $100,000 for trail projects and are aiming to build 45 additional trails by the end of 2018.

“The bike culture in Carson City has increased over the last few years,” he said. “We’ve been creating more activities and events involving the community.”

The spirit of biking was alive when the event kicked off Friday afternoon on Carson Street, starting with the Capital 15 Fun Ride race.

The 16.6 mile route went through Kings Canyon Road and Winnie Lane; back to Ash Canyon, to Ormsby Boulevard, Richmond Avenue, and then to Robinson Street.

From there, riders crossed Mountain Street and made their way back to Carson Street, where the starting line turned into the finish.

Many of the riders described the Capital 15 trail to be hot, rocky, slippery, and a true challenge.

But regardless of experience, each rider reached the finish line with an expression of accomplishment on their faces.

“I only fell once and I’ve been doing this for about four years,” said Ralph Wenziger, 60, of Carson City. “It was even harder in Kings Canyon going through the trees because it was a single track.”

For Kelly Cianci of Thousand Oaks, Calif., it was her first time racing in Carson City Off-Road.

Although she experienced a flat tire along the trail, that didn’t keep her from finishing the race.

“All I did was turn the tire for a temporary fix,” she said. “But others on the trail were so nice, asking if I was OK.”

Cianci uses hearing aides on a regular basis but it doesn’t stop her from a good challenge. She once raced in Grand Junction but she enjoyed the Carson City course more.

“I feel like I pushed myself more here,” she said. “The beginning was gnarly, but flying through the trail was amazing.”

Then, there’s the junior cycling team, Reno Devo.

Terran Hood, 14, finished first place in the 15-miler in one hour and 45 minutes, along with his teammate Mya Dixon, 13, who was first for women’s and also 2016 national champion of her age group.

“This was my first off-road race,” he said. “It was a great race and I definitely want to do it again next year.”

The second amateur race of the day, Klunker Crit, was also held. The two-lap challenge zipped through the west side of town, to the Governor’s Mansion.

Far from a pro event, the Klunker Crit was a great event for both participants and spectators.

It was decor-galore with disco ball helmets, personalized baskets, and costumes.

One local duo completed their first Klunker Crit race by defying the heat in black jumpsuits, wigs, and googly-eyed sunglasses — all on a tandem bicycle.

“We spent an hour on our costumes,” said Monique Reno of Carson Valley. “It was a great experience.”

Her partner, Drew List, of Carson City, said their individual team name was the “Unofficial Committee to Make Nevada More Fun and Stuff.”

The professional women’s race began at 6:30 p.m., followed by the men’s event.

Today, it’s all about the amateur races. The Capitol 50 launches this morning at 7:15 a.m., with the Capital 35 team to follow.

Todd Sadow, president of Epic Rides, said this year’s race is dedicated to professional racer Max Jones, a promoter of the Great Flume Race in Lake Tahoe. He also rebuilt the 26-mile Flume Loop trail in 1983 for biking.

Future “Enduro”vors

Although Epic Rides has been around for 19 years, its off-road series is making strides, according to Sadow. Off-Road events also are held annually in four other locations, such as Pinetop-Lake, Prescott, and Tucson, Ariz.; and Grand Junction, Colo.

But with the launch of a new fundraiser called “Hail the Trail,” Epic Rides is looking to support groups within those locations to help build and maintain trails of the Off-Road series. The fundraising goal is $30,000 and 100 percent of the funds will go to repairing, maintaining, and expanding existing trail systems — evenly split between Carson City, Grand Junction, and Prescott.

That’s an significant investment to the local bike community, Gaa said.

“The economy has impacted the community as a whole, but this new program is going to support our local infrastructure even more,” he said. “It will help us get the permitting done for new projects and environmental studies. This kind of generosity goes a long way and it’s beneficial for everybody.”

The more people donate, the chances of winning a free mountain bike increases. Three winners will be randomly selected from the raffle and announced June 24 on the website.

To help with fundraising, raffle tickets are $4 each and can be purchased online at epicrides.com/hailthetrail/.