Embracing dirt opens smooth road cycling opportunities | SierraSun.com

Embracing dirt opens smooth road cycling opportunities

Paul McKenzie
Spoke n' Word
Submitted PhotoLocal cyclists Katie and Monica are all smiles climbing Frazier Falls Road.
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It goes without saying that the Truckee-Tahoe area is a mecca for mountain biking. And the road riding is also excellent, though busy, shoulder-less roads can detract from the experience in some areas.

Experienced road cyclists share a secret and#8212; the willingness to ride a bit of dirt on the road bike opens up opportunities to complete less-traveled routes, while still enjoying the smooth speed of road cycling. Itand#8217;s the best of both worlds.

For example, on the local favorite Gold Lakes loop in the Sierraville area, the alternate road to Frazier Falls is a beautiful, quiet, narrow, one-lane road in the trees. This paved road leaves the Gold Lakes Highway, taking the cyclist off of the busy, often hot and windy standard route.

However, with about 2 miles to go on the Frazier Falls Road climb, the pavement ends and it turns to dirt. Itand#8217;s no problem on the road bike with basic bike-handling skills and#8212; fun, actually. The cyclist then returns to the Gold Lakes Highway for the descent to Bassetts.

For a short 6-mile loop around the Truckee Airport, consider the following route: From Joerger Drive, ride through the big boulders on Martis Creek Road for a half-mile on old broken pavement to the good pavement up near Martis Creek Dam. This is a nice loop with just a short stint on Highway 267.

To get from downtown Truckee up to Tahoe Donner and#8212; and avoid sucking fumes on the Northwoods climb and#8212; try connecting on the dirt roads that begin uphill from Bridge Street. This ultimately connects the rider to Mougle Lane in Tahoe Donner.

Dog Valley Road is dirt for only 2 miles from Stampede Reservoir to Hobart Mills Road. This allows the cyclist to make a loop from Hirschdale, connecting to Highway 89 for a short distance before turning onto Alder Creek or Prosser.

Boca Road is 4 miles of dirt from the Boca dam to Prosser Dam Road. This creates options for remote loops in the Boca-Stampede area.

Roads in the Truckee-Tahoe area take a beating, so rough pavement, potholes and freeze cracks are common. For training and adventure riding, slightly larger, 25 millimeter or 28 millimeter tires on the road bike are recommended. These larger tires help dissipate shock and bumps, and as an added benefit, they also perform better on the dirt sections.

Check in at the local Truckee bike shops for advice on routes, tires and other gear for your Truckee road bike dirt adventure.

and#8212; Author Paul McKenzie is a member of the Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing team. Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing is a Truckee-based cycling team focused on racing and local bike advocacy. For more about the team, visit http://www.cwcracing.org.