(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misidentified Adrian Lin and Steve Wentz in photos.)
With area ski resorts starting to close for the season, and backcountry skiers finding less and less snow on their favorite lines, outdoor recreation trends have begun the annual shift to warmer weather activities like hiking and mountain biking. It is not uncommon for the spring transitional period to come replete with soggy trails and lingering patches of snow that can put a damper on these activities. Even in the low-snow years of late, certain aspects can hold their winter snowpack well into summer. While plenty of trails are rideable now, a short drive east might be just the ticket when local mountain bikers crave a bit of early spring pump track action.
A recently constructed pump track in Northwest Reno, in the Sierra Vista Park between the Somerset development and Robb Drive, should typically be rideable for most of the year. Situated about 670 feet lower in elevation than the Truckee Bike Park, this new amenity is also much farther east, in an area that receives considerably less snowfall than the Truckee area does annually.
Inspired by an Activism and Leadership unit in his high school English class, 14-year-old Adrian Lin — a freshman at the Davidson Academy in Reno — took it upon himself to get the wheels turning on this project.
Lin’s interest in mountain biking is relatively new. During the pandemic, with more time on his hands than he was used to, Lin would often pass by the Sierra Vista Park on his way home from school. Eventually, he decided to take up mountain biking.
“I started at the beginning of the pandemic when I wanted to do something fun without getting close to anybody,” Lin said.
Last school year, Lin’s school, like many, was conducted remotely. “During lunch I would take my bike and ride up to the park and do some laps and I would come back in time for English,” he told Moonshine Ink.
After conducting a survey and finding that what respondents most wanted was a pump track, Lin contacted Reno’s Biggest Little Trail Stewardship nonprofit group. Together, they set up a GoFundMe campaign, and in about six weeks’ time, the effort raised more than $11,000. BLTS contributed additional funds and hired Steve Wentz of Momentum Trail Concepts to construct the pump track.
Over the past few years, BLTS has been mostly responsible for the development of the mountain bike trails that presently exist in Sierra Vista Park. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit received a recreational trail grant in conjunction with Nevada State Parks. There are currently beginner, intermediate, and advanced downhill trails in the park, as well as a drop zone and plenty of sand, gravel, and dirt tracks. The new pump track is near the drop zone, with easy access from the parking lot that was created for a once-planned golf course.
The City of Reno in 2011 purchased the site of the former golf course, now the 206-acre Sierra Vista Park. The park conceptual plan, conducted and published in 2015, lists four parcels with various use designations. Area residents have been using the former cart trails for years for hiking and mountain biking.
The plan allows for “open spaces and trails,” “the full range of indoor and outdoor recreational features allowed in neighborhood parks,” “active or passive recreational features consistent with neighborhood parks,” and “any purpose consistent with the City’s Master Plan for the McQueen neighborhood.”
“The people at the city are great,” said Amanda Wentz, BLTS’s treasurer and wife of trail-builder Steve Wentz. “They’re really supportive of the things that we’ve gone to them with.”
The entire endeavor has been extremely efficient. Lin initially contacted BLTS in October 2021, and the pump track was finished in March of this year. Construction took only about two weeks, during which time Wentz also put in a variation to the advanced downhill line — which he’d also previously built — that allows riders to bypass the biggest drops and jumps. He has been building trails and tracks for about 25 years, with his other local credits including some of the flow lines and dirt jumps at the Truckee Bike Park.
On Wentz’s last day working on the pump track, Lin rode his mountain bike over to take a look at fruits of his labor. The two had never met before.
As Wentz worked in a mini excavator nearby, Lin straddled his bike and looked over the new features. Standing on the not-quite-completed drop-in as the last rays of afternoon sun stretched out over the landscape, Lin looked satisfied and confident.
He dropped in, carefully crested each roller, and made his way around the track and back to the drop-in as Wentz looked on. “I’ve never actually ridden a pump track before,” Lin said and dropped in for another lap, faster and even more assured.
“He put in effort and had a dream before he knew exactly what it was,” Wentz said later of Lin. “I guess he’s a dreamer and I think that’s super cool.”
Regarding the future of the park and similar opportunities nearby, Lin feels optimistic.
“I think that there’s room for a lot of development — it just needs funding, that’s it,” he said.
As long as there are enthusiasts and people out there like Lin, willing to assume leadership roles in their communities, that shouldn’t take too long.