September 26, 2015 – Sun, 90 degrees
Miles Today: 11
Miles to Date: 7,576
States to Date: 25
If I blasted into Nevada in a Maserati I would go to Las Vegas. But since I’m on a bicycle I’m drawn to more intimate places. A local told me, “Reno is Sin City; Las Vegas is beyond sin.” Reno fits my desire to explore the state that invented the economy of vice at a cycle friendly scale.
I spent the day downtown. The main streets were blocked off for Street Vibrations, an annual motorcycle rally. I interviewed a couple that run a Wedding Chapel and a dealer in a casino. I stuffed myself at the Eldorado Buffet and strolled among so much leather the scent permeated the dry desert air. The crowd was 80% barrel bellied, 20% string bean thin, and 100% weathered. Festival booths sold all sorts of paraphernalia; much of it unprintable in this family blog, but it struck me that a moisturizer vendor could make a killing. The music was great, and motorcyclists give bicyclists a different kind of respect. We have a two-wheel bond but the commonalities pretty much end there.
I’ve been to Reno once before, in 1978. The changes to the city reflect changes seen in other cities over that time. The city has expanded out while downtown has shrunk. The economy is more diversified – only 30% of Nevada’s revenue comes from gaming these days – but casinos still define the culture. Reno was hit hard when Indian gaming moved into California in the early 2000’s, and hit again by the 2008 recession. More than half of the casinos went out of business, and newer ones are not locating downtown. The Atlantis and the Peppermill are standalone enclaves on the outskirts of town – fully enclosed destinations with huge parking lots. But what remains downtown turns out to be a great size for an single event to dominate the entire area. Street Vibrations owned center city.
In the late afternoon I rode along the river; Reno has some cool large scale sculptures. I took Surly to the Reno Bike Project for a new chain, where I met kindred spirit two-wheelers keen to share adventures. Then I pedaled out to my host for the evening. Bob is a member of Servas, not warmshowers, and it was interesting to learn about a different program for inviting travelers into private homes. After dinner Bob drove me around town. Up to Windy Hill for the nighttime view, and over to Atlantis where we enjoyed gelato amid casino whistles and lights.