About Reno
From "How America Can Bike And Grow Rich, The NBG Manifesto"

The gravity aided journey to the Carson Valley ended with headwinds for the next 50 or so miles to Reno. From the Nevada side, the Sierras we had just passed through looked foreboding indeed. Instead of the trees that covered them as we looked east from California, the skyline that now flanked us was made up of hard and jagged rock formations. We were however treated to a sunburst of color as we had come at time of year when tiny alpine flowers with their short growing season covered a lot of the lands through which we pedaled.

Muscling through the headwind that pushed against us, we finally reached the clump of buildings that had grown taller and higher from the desert floor as we rode. This as cars, intersections, stop lights and other buildings began to compete for our attention. But we made it!!

The city of Reno, owes its beginnings to the 1859 discovery of silver at the Comstock Lode in Virginia City. A discovery, which for several decades, produced one half of this nation’s silver. Since the strike was located up an isolated canyon, it had needed what would become Reno, 32 miles away, to get its precious metal out to the world.

Given life by the Truckee River, Reno was an important oasis for desert weary California bound gold seekers. It was the last stop these travelers made before they undertook the challenge of the Sierra Mountain Range. When in 1861 Myron Lake built a toll bridge across the Truckee connecting Reno and Virginia City, the town of Reno was unofficially born. After the Transcontinental railroad then accepted Lake’s offer of land to build a depot near where he had built a hotel, more and more people came to this area.

Once the Central Pacific railroad reached the station they had built here after crossing the Sierras from Sacramento, on May 13, 1868, Reno incorporated. The new settlement was named Reno in honor of General Jesse Lee Reno (1823–1862), a Union army officer who was killed during the Civil War. Even though the Golden Spike would not be driven in Promentory, Utah until a year later, almost overnight, buildings began to appear on the town site. Quickly Reno became an important freight and passenger center as it grew rapidly.

Due to it mining fortunes, Reno enjoyed great prosperity for the next 10 or 15 years. When its reserves of precious metal began to wane, so did its population. It was not until the Lincoln Highway made Reno a part of its route in 1914 that any of this began to change. It took another 12 years for the road over the Sierras to be paved but as it prepared for the influx of cars this new development would bring, Reno began planning an exposition. It announced it with a grand metal arch stretching over where it welcomed the Lincoln HIghway that read:

"Reno Nevada's Transcontinental Highways Exposition
June 25-August 11 1927"

Three years later, the lettering was changed to read, "The Biggest Little City in the World,” a slogan that it still greets its visitors with even today. Because of the Lincoln, Reno had an engine to drive its economy. Soon automobile tourism became an economic force in the region.

Later when the Depression struck, in 1931 the town fathers legalized gambling as a way to encourage tourism. By the end of World War II, easy automobile access to Reno's casinos thrust gambling into the forefront of the local and state economy. Still looking for even more ways to reinvent itself from the glory days of silver, in 1957 Reno became home to the first commercial wedding chapel.

Today at 214.000 people, tourism is still the major industry in Reno. The hotel and casino industry attracts more than five million visitors annually and adds over four billion dollars to the local economy each year. Nor does its proximity to the mountains we had just ridden through hurt. During the winter, they house the highest concentration of ski resorts in America, and it is their visitors who help make for a vibrant year round Reno economy.

Besides drawing people to its businesses, Reno also sends its products out to the world. It has a a strong presence in manufacturing and logistics in industries such as computers, electronics, financial services, and communications. This diversity supports the thriving local economy that includes a wide range of restaurants and retail options.

While it is a well known fact that a couple so interested can still run off to Reno and get married and that pretty much anyone who feels lucky can go there to take his or her chances in their gambling casinos, few know that it has deep bicycling roots. In fact, the man who re-energized bicycling in America, Greg Lemond, was groomed for bike racing by the same club whose current president, Mike Damon, has long supported our National Bicycle Greenway efforts.

When, in 1976, at age 14 Lemond decided to take up cycling so that he could improve his downhill skiing, it was the Reno Wheelmen that encouraged him to test his ability as a racer. Soon, Lemond was placing near the top not only in their races, but in every race he could find. It wasn’t long before he was burning up the California and then the national racing circuits.

Along the way, one of his biggest sponsors was Palo Alto Bicycles, located here in one of this Nation’s top biking cities and the home office for the NBG, Palo Alto. When, in 1986, Greg went on to become the first American to win cycling's most prestigious annual event, the three-week, 2,000-mile, Tour de France, his success prompted many to take up the sport. When he came back against long odds three years later to win the Tour on its very last day, after first overcoming shotgun wounds just to get to the starting line, he became a much exalted American hero. His was a story of hope that touched the sick, the old, the downtrodden, the poor and the rich as it brought people from all walks of life to cycling.

And here in Reno, besides Mike Damon‘s Wheelmen, there is another man who is working hard to keep the bike racing tradition alive. Since 1991, Tim Healion has been busy producing the Tour De Nez, a several day bicycle race that, like his coffee house that supports it, the Deux Gros Nez, is both eclectic and fun. By adding a bike swap, parties, a century ride, kid, hand cycle (racing wheelchairs), and bike messenger races to the seasoned pro racers who compete for prize money, Tim has come up with a formula that has attracted a wide following and enlisted the support of businesses through out the area.

We looked forward to meeting the Reno Mayor. Always supportive of our NBG Day, he had ridden the Busycle when Matt and Heather brought it out from Boston in 2006.