Ride Report; Simpson Rd and Dead Camel Mtns

Sandy choices, Lahontan Reservoir

Is there a choice here, gravel bikes are not keen on sand

When storms hit northern California and western Nevada it is often a game of watching the storm tracks and making the best educated guess as where to ride. Just the day before Brandon Anderson and I rode out of Quincy, CA in a cold windy rainstorm. Chalk that up to adverse conditions training. For today’s ride we started looking as far east as Middlegate but decided to take a chance on the Lahontan Reservoir area. Simpson Rd has always been on my list of rides. It is best known as the Pony Express Route.

180 deg of Simpson Rd, Pony Express

180 deg of Simpson Rd, Pony Express

I traced a couple of loops in the area and went with a quote shaped bubble into the Dead Camel Mountains. We were super impressed with the condition of the roads. Much of the route was carved out of the ancient lake bed, hard and buffed smooth like fresh tarmac. Much of the road bed was bellow the surrounding land. I can only imagine what a mud bog Simpson Rd could present. After about 11 miles of tailwind assisted cruising we headed north into the hills.

Mini playa

Mini playa between Dead Camel Mtn and Desert Range

Flowery Range, north of Lahontan Res

Flowery Range, north of Lahontan Res

We passed a couple of mini-playas. The road surface changed between clay, rock and sand. Luckily the roads never made us wish we were on anything other than our gravel bikes. We did encounter the occasional pitch that was too steep to ride. But we were always rewarded by views of rugged canyons and mountain ranges across broad flats.

Rugged canyons to explore, Dead Camel Mtns

Rugged canyons to explore, Dead Camel Mtns

Across to Fallon

Across to Fallon

The Nipple

The Nipple, Dead Camel Mtns

With views of Lahontan Reservoir we descended a very sandy track to the ancient lake bed. Luckily this was the descent. The sandy track had us surfing our bikes through the soft stuff. There would have been no way to climb this track with 700x40c tires. The ride back to our start was spent in the reflection of a high quality day. By the numbers the day’s temperatures were in the upper 30’s to lower 40’s, breezy, damp, but improving through the day.

Scouting out a route, above Lahontan Res

Scouting out a route, above Lahontan Res

Exit, Dead Camel Mtns

Exit, Dead Camel Mtns

When I return to the area I would like to see how far I can stay on the Pony Express Route. To cover the distance I think plus sized tires would be in order. There is too much variety in the desert roads to rely on anything narrower. I would like to explore the Desert Mountains as well as the White Throne Mountains. This is just my first ride in the area.

Sunset on Carson River

Glowing Cottonwoods on Carson River

I highly recommend Bike Carson’s write-ups for more information on this area.

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