Park to Park Pedal Century Ride: A Post LOTOJA Event

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By David Ward — October 7 of this past year found me in Nevada’s Kershaw-Ryan State Park, just outside of Caliente, Nevada, trying not to shiver in the 40°F temperature and awaiting the start of the Park to Park Pedal Century Ride. I chose this event as motivation to maintain my LOTOJA fitness for a while. This is always my best cycling fitness of the year, even though I now ride the annual LOTOJA as part of a relay rather than solo. This year I hoped to avoid an immediate dive into my post-LOTOJA/winter cycling fitness slump.

I really enjoyed this ride. The format was appealing, taking in four Nevada State Parks. Beginning in the Kershaw-Ryan State Park, the course takes you to Cathedral Gorge State Park, through Echo Canyon State Park, to the turnaround point at Spring Valley State Park and then finishes back in Kershaw-Ryan. And we had ideal weather: Clear blue skies with temperatures ranging from the aforesaid 40°F to mid 80°sF, but never uncomfortably warm, and very little wind.

A rider on the road to Pioche, NV in the Park to Park Pedal Century Ride 2023. Photo by David Ward

Though advertised at a total ascent of 5600′, my computer logged “only” 4500′. Though short of what was advertised, that is still a lot of elevation gain for most of us amateur, recreational riders. Additionally, the climbing is not harsh. There is a long, 11-mile climb early on from Cathedral Gorge to Pioche in which you gain about 1600′, another good climb after the lunch break at Spring Valley about two miles long and 600′, and the final climb back to Pioche and a little beyond of 500′. And even these climbs are not extremely daunting, the steepest sections being around 6%. The rest of the climbing was gradual uphill and small rollers, mostly between Echo Canyon Dam and Spring Valley. Frankly, it was a perfect post-LOTOJA ride for me, challenging in both distance and ascent, but not too overwhelming.

It is also a beautiful ride. Make no mistake, this is desert, and you are pedaling alongside a lot of sagebrush surrounded by other desert flora including an abundance of a yellow-flowering plant that covered the landscape. (I have tried to identify this plant, but with no success.) Born and raised in rural southeastern Idaho, this landscape felt like home to me, a landscape that I love. And the ride alongside the lush Meadow Valley Wash with its rising canyon walls from Echo Canyon Dam to Spring Valley is simply desert gorgeous.

 

But my loudest raves for this event are for the organization and support. Preceding the ride is a rider’s breakfast of muffins, fruit and/or oatmeal. There are five food stops along the way, the stop at Pioche technically being two stops, first on the way out and a very welcome stop on the way back. Each stop is well-stocked with treats, fruit, colas and other canned soft drinks, energy drinks and plenty of water. The lunch stop at Spring Valley is a true lunch stop, serving up sandwiches made with your choice of meat and cheese, and self-serve condiments, as well as chips, fruit, and other snacks. The only thing I would have appreciated but which they didn’t have was pickle juice.

At the end of the ride, we were served up a Dutch oven dinner I would have been willing to pay good money for. But I didn’t have to: It was included in my registration fee.

Also, and a very much appreciated perk, at both Cathedral Gorge and Pioche stops you can take off extra clothing. It is put in a bag with your number on it and you pick it up at the finish. This solves a common early morning dilemma for me: Do I dress so as not to be too cold (especially on an early, very cool fall morning) and later find someplace to stuff the extra gear, or do I suffer in the cold for a goodly time before I finally warm up? Problem solved.

This ride has a lot of support staff. Local police and park rangers patrol the roads keeping an eye out for, protecting, and helping riders. There are plenty of folks staffing the food stops, and they are cheerful and helpful, making the stops enjoyable as well as refreshing.

And finally, addressing one of my pet peeves, they didn’t give out water bottles. Maybe others like getting these, but I have way too many cheap plastic water bottles. I have taken to refusing them at registration. Instead, with the registration came a quality long-sleeved t-shirt instead of a cheap short-sleeved one of which again I have way too many.

So, I give this ride an excellent rating and high recommendation. It met and, indeed, exceeded all my expectations, both for the ride itself, its organization and support, and what I was looking for at this time of year. A great post-LOTOJA ride.

2024 Event Details: 

October 12 — Park to Park Pedal Extreme Nevada 100|, Caliente, NV, Road bike ride starting and ending at Kershaw-Ryan State Park. Cyclists visit the towns of Caliente and Pioche, and three other state parks: Cathedral Gorge, Echo Canyon, and Spring Valley. 3 rides available: 100, 60 and 40 mile options. There is a Dutch oven dinner at the end!, Dawn Andone, 775-728-8101, [email protected], parktoparkpedal.com, lincolncountynevada.com/exploring/biking/park-to-park-pedal/

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