Winemmucca’s Bloody Shins Trail cuts team deep
WINNEMUCCA — “If you fell down and were paralyzed they would eat you,” said our guide Chuck Austin as we knocked the crawling 3-inch Mormon crickets from our legs on Saturday morning. They marched by the thousands like Star Wars drones across the dusty sand and sage of Winnemucca’s Bloody Shins Trail during our fifth segment of the Nevada 10-in-10 Challenge.
The ride, our last mountain bike section of the challenge, was proving harder than we had expected.
“I cussed more in the three hours of that ride than I have during the rest of this trip,” said Appeal sports writer Jeremy Evans later over a Philly cheese steak sandwich.
Though the ride was sandy and the sage slashed at our legs, we were lucky to have the local help. Austin, who runs the Bikes And More bicycle shop in Winnemucca, arrived at the trailhead at 5 a.m. with his friend and riding partner Henry Kingman to show us the way. Team member Rick Gunn had talked to Austin over the phone to arrange for the meeting. After missing a couple of eagerly anticipated lunch breaks earlier in the challenge, the team was glad to see the local guides.
“I told him about it once and then called to confirm,” Rick said. “I could just tell by the sound of his voice that he was solid.”
The two proved invaluable at leading us through the rolling sage-covered hills along thin bike tracks that sometimes seemed to vanish.
“On this next section, the ‘Lost Forest,’ it’s real important that you stay on the trail,” said Chuck about halfway through the day. “We lost some guys out here in ’93. They got off the trail and never came out.”
His joke became clear as we pedaled through a thin “forest” of 6-foot shrubs.
The day wasn’t all fun and games, though. The dry, powdery sand jammed the chains on both Jeremy’s and my bikes so the gears would grind to a halt.
Finally, my chain snapped and we were left behind the others. With blood dripping from my shins I tried to fix it but failed.
“It’s this type of sh#% that pisses me off,” said Jeremy as he yanked his bike free of a sage stump so we could press on. “I just want to punch someone in the head!”
As it turns out, we had broken the chain link on a section of trail called “Missing Link.”
Running with the bike was ridiculously slow and tedious, however, so luckily the local guides saved us again. Using a chain tool provided by 10-in-10 team member K.M. Cannon of the Las Vegas Review Journal, Kingman quickly had the chain in top form.
“This is fascinating,” said Cannon as he watched Kingman work the problem.
“I’ve had this tool for six months and never known how to use it.”
The group traveled an estimated 18 miles of the Bloody Shins Trail system, then rode out to Don and Elaine Quilici at the Appealmobile to treat wounds and Kingman to lunch.
“Good luck tomorrow,” said Kingman, referring to the 35-mile Ruby Crest Trail trek on the agenda for this morning.
As preparation for today’s hike, Saturday’s ride pretty much just got the blood flowing.
Quote of the day: It was harder than we all thought it would be. You had to be on your game the whole time.” K.M. Cannon, photographer.