If you have any questions that aren’t covered below, please post them in the Facebook group.
Group Start = Start with other riders on the designated day/time, follow the race rules, and track how long it took to finish the route.
Duo = A team of two people who must ride and finish together. They follow all of the same race rules, however, they can share resources and draft off of each other.
Forlorn 4-Day = A “social” option that is limited to 16 riders. It starts at the same day/time as the Group Start, but riders aim to camp together each night: Night 1 = Donner Lake, Night 2 = Spooner Lake, Night 3 = Fallen Leaf Lake. While camping together each night is more social, riders are still self-sufficient and no one is expected to wait for anyone. The daily mileage is very challenging. Be prepared for long, tough days in the saddle. Participants contribute $20 to help cover the costs of the campground reservations.
Individual Time Trial (ITT) = You pick a different day/time to start your ride, follow the race rules, and track how long it took to finish the route.
Here are the steps for signing up for the Group Start, Duo, Forlorn 4-Day or an Individual Time Trial (ITT).
- Join the general Facebook group
- Register and provide your contact info on this registration form. Registration opens in May, 2023.
- Optional – Register on Trackleaders to be tracked on the live map (bring your own device or rent one). Registration opens May, 2023.
- Decide where to leave your car (more info)
- Know the race rules
- When you finish, take a selfie in front of the Donner monument and post in the general Facebook group with your finish time
Getting to Truckee
- Drive: If you are coming from Sacramento or the Bay Area, try to drive on Saturday to avoid bad traffic. Traffic heading to Lake Tahoe on Friday afternoon/evening is notoriously bad.
- Amtrak: Read about Allen Ho’s great experience taking Amtrak buses from Oceanside to Truckee. Once a day, there is a train that starts in Emeryville and stops in Truckee. Amtrak has reportedly become much more bike friendly, but I haven’t ridden it with a bike myself, so be sure to check out the details at amtrak.com. I’ve heard that they don’t “officially” let you book a bike to Truckee. The issue is that they don’t have access to the car that holds your bike when they stop in Truckee. However, if you talk to a conductor when you get on the train, they can move your bike to a luggage closet. That way, when they stop in Truckee they can get your bike off the train.
- Bus: Greyhound and Amtrak are your bus options.
- Fly: Reno is the closest airport (~45 min drive) and an Uber to Truckee from RNO is about $65. After that, Sacramento is your next closest option (~90 min drive).
Staying in Truckee
- Rent a house: There are lot of homes for rent in Truckee and the Tahoe Donner neighborhood. You can often get a 3 bedroom home for around $200/night through AirBnB or VRBO.
- Hotel or hostel: There are a few hotels in Truckee and one hostel (~$50 for a bed in a bunk room).
- Warmshowers.org: A great community of cyclists who host traveling cyclists. There are about 10 hosts in Truckee. The spirit of the site is that they host cyclists when they are actually on a trip, but some hosts might be willing to let you stay a night and leave your car parked in front of their house while you do Bones to Blue.
- Camping: There are several campgrounds in/near Truckee. Donner State Park is the most convenient (closest to start/finish). After that, your options are Tahoe Donner’s Campground , Granite Flat Campground, or Lakeside Campground.
- Groceries: Truckee has a Safeway, Save Mart, and New Moon (a natural foods market)
- Bike shop: Truckee has a few bike shops, but we’d recommend Start Haus and Paco’s
- Outdoor equipment: The Ace Hardware has lots of outdoor equipment and there several other shops too
Where to leave your car
- Officially, there is no long-term parking in Truckee. All public roads have a 72-hour limit and, around the historic downtown, it’s more restrictive with meters. In the summer, outside of the historic downtown, the police don’t normally enforce the 72-hour limit, so you can likely leave your car for 5-7 days before you’d risk getting a ticket. Just don’t park in a business parking lot or block a driveway. If someone reports your car abandoned, then the 72-hour clock starts ticking.
- Your best bet is to ask a warmshowers.org host in Truckee if you can leave you car at their house.
- If you stay in a hotel, ask if you can leave your car on their property.
- Lastly, post in the Facebook group and a local can help you find a place to leave your car.
For a complete Bones to Blue packing list see here. The recommended gear list for Bones to Blue assumes that your main goal is to finish the route in 3-4 days. If you are trying to crush it in less than 48 hours or tour for 6+ days, modify as necessary.
Bike – Given the amount of rough terrain, consider either a full-suspension or a hard-tail bike with wide tires (2.35-3.0). A full-suspension bike will smooth out the trail, but limits what you can carry on your bike frame.
GPS – Garmin Etrex 20x and Etrex 30x are well-tested and widely used in bikepacking events.
GPS backup – It’s always a good idea to have a backup option on your phone in case your GPS dies. I use Backcountry Navigator Topo GPS ($12 app on android). Upload the tracks and waypoints to the app and, with your phone on “airplane” mode, you can probably navigate for 1 day or so before your battery dies. See this article for more tips on using your phone as a gps.
Backup phone battery – The Anker battery is great for keeping your phone charged for a reasonable weight penalty. It can quickly recharge your phone 2.5 times.
Tires – Maxxis Ikon 2.35 are a good default. Err on the side of wider tires. The terrain is very mixed (chunky and smooth single track, dirt/gravel fire roads, and some pavement).
Chain lube – Finish Line Dry is a good choice. The trails are often dry and dusty, but you will cross a number of streams. Plan on lubing your chain 1 or more times a day.
Spare spoke –The FiberFix Emergency Spoke has saved me on 3 different occasions. It can replace a drive-side spoke without removing the cassette.
Water Filter – Sawyer’s PointOne Squeeze Filter is small, light, effective, and efficient. Getting cold water from a mountain stream without having to wait for pills to dissolve is heavenly. Carry a spare squeeze bag or iodine pills because I’ve had a brand new bag suddenly split and bust open.
Bear bag – The Ursack is a great option for bagging your food at night. There are lots of bears along the route. One bikepacker on the Tahoe Rim Trail in 2017 woke up with a bear next to him eating his food supply.
Tire plugs – Genuine Innovations UST Tubeless Plugs can get you out of bind when a stick or rock stabs your tire and you start losing sealant. In 2017, Matt and I both had to plug our tires during the race.
Bugs – Sea to Summit Mosquito Head Net is a great compliment to a bivy bag. It’s compact and light.