Beaver Dam State Park and Barclay are out-of-the-way places in Lincoln County but quite picturesque and beautiful nonetheless. The destinations are tucked into the mountains about 13-14 miles from the Nevada-Utah border, as the crow flies. Kind of hard to get to, and a pickup is certainly more recommended than the family passenger car.
Today though, with mountain biking increasing in popularity in Lincoln County, and likely to do more so in the future, the Nevada State Parks held their annual Gravel Grinder ride last Saturday. The ride offered a day’s trek over miles of gravel and dirt road across cattle ranges, through settler homesteads, around isolated ranches, open meadows, by an old log milling community and the historic one-room Barclay Schoolhouse.
Dawn Andone of the state parks system and Interpreter at Cathedral Gorge State Park, said the 35-mile ride kicked off with a breakfast at Beaver Dam, traveled along gravel and hard pack dirt roads to the schoolhouse, stopped there for lunch, then continued on a loop back to Beaver Dam for an afternoon hamburger feed, all supplied by the State Parks.
BLM Caliente Field Office Manager Chris Carlton said he went on the ride, “because we’ve got some trail projects going in and I wanted to see what the interest is in the community and meet some of the other riders.” Carlton is new to the Caliente area, having only taken the BLM manager’s position earlier this year.
Gary Strehbola of Las Vegas said he came on the ride because, “I love mountain biking and I heard about this. It seemed like a fun thing to do. It’s been 25-30 years since I’ve been back up in Lincoln County. The last time was to cut a Christmas tree, and we had all kinds of mishap adventures.”
Strehbola said the ride is not particularly tough, “except maybe the first five miles out of Beaver Dam, going up the hills is pretty strenuous, but coming down is pretty easy.”
David Jaget of Las Vegas said he came with Strehbola. “He told me about this. I’m aware of the trails the International Biking Association is planning to build around Caliente, and I wanted come out here and see the beautiful surroundings that are here.”
Russ McNaught of Las Vegas said he had wanted to come on the ride last year, but was not able to, so decided to try again this year, and it was his first time as well. “I like to bike, and this is a beautiful area. However, I broke a derailleur (gear system) on my bike, so I’m hitchhiking back.”
Andone’s husband and event volunteer Scott, said she created the Gravel Grinder because the Park to Park Pedal (the Extreme Nevada 100) held in October, only covers four of the five state parks in Lincoln County. “Almost everybody was asking for a second bike ride, and she came up with a ride that covered Beaver Dam State Park, so now all the parks can be covered in the same year.”
He said people commented to him, “This is an excellent ride, beautiful scenery, nice local people, and they have really enjoyed the full service, (the meals and rest stop) the parks have supported on it.”
Andone expressed appreciation for all involved. “We want to thank all the volunteers and supporters of this year’s Gravel Grinder,” she said. “The Hafens for opening the Barclay Schoolhouse and pavilion for our lunch stop. Great Basin Foods in Caliente for helping out with lunch; Lincoln Communities Action Team (LCAT) for their support; members of Lincoln County Search and Rescue; and all the other volunteers who helped make this a successful event.”
International Biking has said if all goes well, some 38 miles of trails for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders could be opened to the public around the City of Caliente, Kershaw-Ryan State Park and the Barnes Canyon area sometime in 2017.