Carson Valley & Lake Tahoe Adventure Moto

After lowering the price, shortening the name, and moving the event headquarters from South Lake Tahoe to Minden, Nevada, the organizers of the Carson Valley/Lake Tahoe Adventure Moto rally are working to make this annual gathering something big; they have all the critical ingredients for success.

Changing the host city was wise. Lake Tahoe is beautiful, but the summer tourist traffic around the lake is unpleasant, and the smaller communities in Nevada’s Carson Valley offer competitively priced hotels and a friendlier atmosphere. RV parks, public and private campgrounds, and primitive backcountry camping are accessible nearby. The new location is much closer to almost endless riding opportunities in the high desert, with the mountain high country mere minutes away. Almost anywhere you stand in the Carson Valley the Sierra views are spectacular. All makes, models, and riders of street-legal motorcycles are welcome. 

The Carson Valley/Lake Tahoe Adventure Moto offers seminars, training classes, demonstrations, social activities, vendors, and travel throughout the region. You can go your own way with your buddies, pick one of the routes suggested by the organizers, or join a ride with the locals. Daylong, half-day, overnight, mostly dirt, or all paved twisty back-road adventures are available. Former Dakar racer Jimmy Lewis will conduct a basic off-highway riding skills course for dual-sport motorcycles on Thursday, August 22, and three-time Daytona winner Walt Fulton will teach a basic street-skills class on Friday, August 23. For more information

Media Familiarization Ride

As an hors d’oeuvre to the main event, I attended a media familiarization tour recently. The bikes and riders varied, with a couple of R1200GS BMWs shod with street tires, two Kawasaki KLRs, a Suzuki DRZ 400 on knobbies, three KTM 990s, and my old R1150GS. 

After leaving the Carson Valley Inn at 9:00 a.m., in just a few miles we’d hit the dirt and started up Sunrise Pass Road. With photographers needing to ride ahead, stop and shoot, then catch-up, our press group’s progress was slower than a typical ride in these parts, but this did nothing to inhibit the fun. Shortly after noon we briefly returned to the pavement and rode through Yerington, Nevada. Later we stopped along the west fork of the Walker River to relax, eat a few snacks, and to confirm all were willing to attempt a route that involved several water crossings. Everyone accepted the challenge. 

Testing The Waters

We motored through the farming community of Smith Valley then left Highway 338 for Desert Creek Road, also known as Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Road 027. Fording Desert Creek several times was mostly uneventful, because the several inches of water flowed over a firm, rocky bed. Still, there were invisible cantaloupe-size rocks that bumped riders off course and caused a few foot stabs and wet feet. The water crossings were appropriate for the bikes and riders and helped solidify our team spirit. We headed west on Risue Canyon Road (NF 050), enjoyed some miles of fast and wide dirt highways, then headed south again on Eastside Lane crossing into California. A few miles of blacktop delivered us to Walker Burger in Walker, California. My “double western bacon macho burger” was delicious and the staff friendly at this popular little outdoor eatery. Others had fantastic looking milkshakes. 

Dual-Sport Adventuring

Our day of (mostly) dirt riding had been tons of fun, yet there was time to open the throttles and exercise the sides of our tires while riding up and over Monitor Pass on the southern beginnings of California’s Highway 89. I love backcountry adventuring and twisty pavement. Combining the two in a full day of visceral excitement was an unbeatable combination. A new set of Heidenau K60 Scout tires on my GS performed well in both environments…watch for a full review in Overland Journal

After a brief stop in Markleeville, where a couple of the smaller bikes bought gas, we return to Minden and a family-friendly “food truck” festival in the north parking lot of the Carson Valley Inn. With the bikes put away for the night we enjoyed more food, photo sharing, and some libations. 

All had a fantastic day of adventure touring on just one of almost countless rides a person can choose in this region…the only limits are your imagination and fuel range. See you in Minden, August 22–25, for the second annual Carson Valley/Lake Tahoe Adventure Moto rally. 

Highway 4, I Need’t Say More

To help the Californians return home, a spin across Ebbetts Pass was chosen for Sunday morning. If you prefer tight and twisty mountain pavement, with no centerline for miles across the top, Highway 4 is one of the best seasonal trans-Sierra roadways. 

© 2013 PhotoWrite/J. Langan. All rights reserved


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With a love of wheels since his first day of preschool, where he immediately discovered the tricycle, James continues to pursue his passions with trucks and motorcycles. With a keen eye for detail, he is a photographer, a writer, a precision driver, and an expert motorcyclist.