Dusting off the bike gear | SierraSun.com

Dusting off the bike gear

Emma Garrard
Sierra Sun
Emma Garrard/Sierra SunDavid Fillat tightens the rotor on a disk brake at The Backcountry in Truckee on Tuesday. Early-season tuneups are a must for mountain bikers.
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Due to lack of snow pack, mountain bikers have been getting an early start to the season riding on local trails that usually are not accessible until summer.

“Trails are melting out a full month before they were last year,” said John Svahn, a bike mechanic at Paco’s Bike and Ski in Truckee.

One of the first rides to clear is the Emigrant Trail, which has been packed for a couple of weeks.

“I’ve never been able to ride the Emigrant Trail before May,” Randall Ussery, who also works at Paco’s, said.

Another quick ride to do early in the season is up Tunnel Creek because the recent snow melt means it’s firmer than during the summer when it gets a lot of downhill traffic from the Flume. It’s all uphill, but that’s just an opportunity for good early-season conditioning.

Some bikers still travel out of the basin to Auburn and Reno to get in longer rides.

Riders from Incline Village often drive down to Galena Creek Park for the first ride of the season, which is a little muddy but in good shape.

“Hidden Valley was awesome,” Svahn said. “There are some new single tracks and you can ride for hours and hours.”

“Pioneer Trail above Nevada City, that’s pretty fun,” said Ben Milikien of Cyclepaths in Truckee, who said he likes riding in the foothills early season because it isn’t too crowded.

Mountain bikers can still expect to see snow pack above 7,500 feet, so downhill riders will have to wait a little longer.

“A lot of stuff hasn’t melted out because you start at a higher elevation,” said Mike Vaughan of Cyclepaths. “You can ride the lower part of Tyrolean Downhill (in Incline Village.)”

Local bike shops have been slammed tuning bikes as the sport appears to be more popular than skiing recently.

“Our bike racks are full,” said Mike Fresco, manager of the Village Ski Loft in Incline Village. “The bike business has been as good, if not better than the ski business for the last two to three weeks.”

As is the case during early ski season, cyclists are encouraged to take it easy until regaining their midseason form.

“Slowly phase back into it,” Milikien said. “Don’t try to kill it the first day.”

Giving bikes a spring tune-up and clean is highly recommended. Make sure suspension is working, check the handle bar, stem and frame for signs of fatigue, and that linkages are tight. Also apply lube to the pivot point and chain, check the brakes, the rims for cracks and the tires for cuts after they have been stored in a garage all winter.

As for the weather, bikers still need to dress warmly as temperatures can drop below freezing at night.

Like most seasonal sports, remember to start off slow.

– Emigrant Trail, Truckee ” Smooth riding, no fallen trees and little water on the trails.

– Sawtooth Ridge, Truckee ” Western half has a few patches of snow.

– Rim trail to Mt. Watson ” Sections of the trail are clear for riding.

– North Tahoe Regional Park ” Trails are ready to ride.

– Tunnel Creek, Incline Village ” Sand is relatively packed with no ruts. Can ride to Tunnel Creek Station without hitting snow. Can hike and bike part of Flume but snow pack is still on the northeast facing slopes.

– Tyrolean Downhill, Incline Village ” The lower half of the trail is ready to ride.

– Galena Creek, Reno ” A little muddy but trails are in good shape.

– Slaughter House Canyon, East Shore ” From Spooner to Glenbrook, clear of snow.

– Evans and Keystone Canyon, Reno ” North of UNR campus, open year round.

– Hidden Valley, Reno ” New Single tracks open year round.