When it comes to cycling in the Reno area, there are few routes as popular or as frequently ridden as Geiger Grade. Starting in South Reno, Geiger Grade is the winding road that cars and drivers alike take to get to Virginia City, one of the most historic towns in the United States.
Also known as Nevada State Route 341, Geiger Grade appears on road maps as far back as the early 1900’s, however the route was notoriously dangerous before it was fully paved and aligned in 1936.
Greg Lemond (Tour de France winner 1986, 1989-1990; World Champion 1983, 1989), the greatest American cyclist of all time, grew up in the Washoe Valley just south of the start of Geiger Grade, and Geiger is well regarded as being one of his “go to” training rides as a young man.
Starting at around 4,600’, Geiger Grade is a steady climb averaging 5% and gaining just over 2,000’ in 7.7 miles. The climb is often very windy, and when done in the summer it can often be very hot as well. There is not much shoulder on the climb, however cyclists are common, and there are slow vehicle turn outs that offer additional opportunities for drivers to pass cyclists.
The Strava Segment officially starts right at this church on the left side of the road.
As the road curves its way up the mountain, cyclists have incredible views of the city of Reno and the surrounding area. As mentioned above, the shoulder is minimal, so it can be hard to take photos of the view mid climb, however there are a few scenic lookout opportunities that you can stop at to appreciate the sights.
The view from the first scenic overlook about 3 miles into the climb.
Shortly after the first scenic lookout, the climb turns east and heads straight up through a beautiful canyon full of pine trees. On a good day, and if you’re lucky you can have an almost perfect tailwind on this section which really helps you pick up some speed! Right at the end of this straight section you can find another scenic lookout that offers you an incredible view of the canyon.
Check out this drone shot from the second scenic lookout!
Just after the second lookout the road flattens and then pitches down for about 3/4ths of a mile, which can be both a blessing and a curse, as starting back up one of the steeper parts of the climb after a very brief rest can be difficult.
The flat, slightly downhill section is commonly known as the “false flat”
But have no worries, once the road tilts up again there is only about a mile of climbing left. The road winds itself around two more slight curves before finishing headed to the east. There is a nice turnout that you can stop at to rest or take pictures with the summit sign.
The summit - this may be the only true sequential summit elevation in the US!