Editor’s note: News director Spencer Powlison is racing all four of the Epic Rides Series mountain bike races this summer to cover the pro racing and experience the events from a participant’s standpoint. This coverage is sponsored by Fezzari Bicycles, Smith, and Mavic. Powlison will ride Fezzari’s new Signal Peak cross-country bike, wear Smith’s Session helmet and Attack Max sunglasses, and ride Mavic’s new Crossmax Elite Carbon wheelset.
As part of our continuing coverage of the Epic Rides Series, I’m off to the Carson City Off-Road, June 15-17 in Nevada. The high-altitude mountain bike race climbs up to 8,600 feet, overlooking beautiful blue Lake Tahoe. This third edition of the race also has all of the usual fun stuff you’d expect from an Epic Rides event: A Friday night fat tire crit to showcase the pro racers, free, live music, and a difficult race course to amateurs and pros alike. Here’s a look at what’s on tap this weekend.
After the rocky, technical course in Grand Junction, the second round of the Epic Rides Series should offer a new kind of challenge. At 52 miles, it is the longest race in the series and topping out at 8,600 feet above sea level, the Capital 50 is the highest of the four Epic Rides events.
To gain that massive 6,890 feet of climbing, the route heads west out of Carson City in a clockwise loop, topping out on the Flume Trail high above Lake Tahoe. Apart from a few short downhills and rolling sections, the first 34 miles are almost all climbing. Once you top out after the second of three aid stations, it’s a precipitous drop back to town, starting with the Sunflower Hill trail. Although the area trails can be a bit rocky and loose, they aren’t expected to be too gnarly (so long as all the snow has melted out).
The Four Peaks Brewing Co. Downtown Music Festival will be headlined by MarchFourth, a 20-person ensemble that thrills crowds with stilt-walkers, dancers, and costumes. Desert Rhythm project is the opening act, and The Lique and Controlled Burn will also perform. Although not technically a musical performance (we assume), TrainerRoad, a Reno-based company, will also hold a panel and live podcast taping to answer all your questions about how to train smarter for mountain bike races like the Epic Rides Series.
In my pack
Since I had a fairly epic mechanical meltdown at Grand Junction, I thought I’d give you a rundown on a few key things I bring for long races like the Carson City Off-Road, in case something goes wrong.
1. Spare tube, Co2, and pump. This is your basic flat-fixing arrangement, but the pump is a new addition after I used up my Co2 and realized my tire was still flat in Junction. It doesn’t add much weight, and it’s good insurance to have.
2. Tubeless tire plug kit. More companies are making these handy tools that stick a little rubberized thread into punctures to seal your tire and keep it tubeless. I find that sealant doesn’t always work for cuts from little rocks but plugs almost always do. Some pro racers even tape their plugs right onto their handlebars for quick access. See what your local shop has, and make sure to get a basic tutorial on how they work.
3. A mini-tool with a chain breaker. Some riders just carry a quick-link instead of a chain tool, but I find that you can’t always remove a broken chain link without a tool — if you can’t do that, you can’t put on the quick-link.