Well almost solo. My sweetie shuttled me to the start on Mt. Rose Highway and then rode up Oneida/Armstrong Connector to meet me at Armstrong Pass many hours later and finish the ride down Toads with me.
I started out at 5:30 am to give plenty of daylight and to make our dinner reservation at our favorite restaurant in South Shore (Café Fiore). I had the Rose to Spooner section all to myself due to the early hour. It was as quiet on Spooner to Kingsbury until I ran into a few folks towards the end of that section. Conditions were good, and the temps were ideal for the sometimes dreaded climb up to the Bench.
The new TRT section down to Kingsbury is great and obviously built with bikes in mind. At Kingsbury you have to head downhill to make the connection across to the new trail on the west side. Losing all that elevation was a bit alarming, as I knew the new trail up to Stagecoach, the normal start of the Punisher ride, was going to be tougher than the usual pavement spin to make the connection.
At the start of the Punisher, I finally sat down to a short rest and to fuel up. The going gets tough here with spectacular views into Nevada, and lots of fun rocky terrain. Those step-ups onto rocky ledges would prove to get a little harder as the day wore on.
Once I made it to Star I pumped water and relaxed a bit. The climb up Freel Peak is pretty easy, though the high point is about 9700’, and I was looking forward to the incredible descent down the other side. This would be my second trip over Freel for the season having done the Punisher a week earlier with Melinda.
As expected the descent was spectacular and there was only one more pretty good climb to get over to Toads. I met up with Melinda, and we soon passed a couple suffering riders doing the Armstrong to Toads Loop. Like me, they would soon forget about their suffering once they started descending.
After some top of the world views it was all downhill. Dropping into Toads with nearly 60 miles and almost 9000 feet of climbing completed was an interesting experience. Veal Saltimbocca in a Marsala sauce and a great Cabernet rounded out the day.
Top of the World
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Mtbr's 2016 Winter Biking GearReviews and Roundups
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