Blazing Trails

Why Scot Nicol, Founder of Ibis Cycles, Loves Tahoe Donner and the Expanding Trail Network.

By Derek Moore  |  Photos by Court Leve

Steeped in tradition while remaining progressive, Tahoe Donner offers something unique that attracts those seeking a quality, mountain community.

For Scot “Chuck” Nicol and his wife, Sheryl Chapman, the allure was lifestyle. As the founder of Ibis Cycles in 1981, and an early pioneer shaping the mountain biking industry, Nicol bought a home in Tahoe Donner two years ago, close to Alder Creek Adventure Center (ACAC). Their love for cross country skiing, a quiet community and epic mountain biking sealed the deal.

“We’ve been talking about getting a house in Truckee or Tahoe for years,” says Nicol. “When we looked what we like to do—ski and ride bikes without having to drive our car much—we realized Tahoe Donner was perfect.”

“SOMETIMES THE CAR GOES A WEEK WITHOUT MOVING. WHEN WE’RE HERE, WE RIDE OR SKI EVERY DAY.”

In the winter, the Nicols walk from their home to their lockers at ACAC to ski. In summer, they barely touch pavement to get in hours of great mountain biking.

No strangers to the community, Nicol has been skiing at the cross country ski center for the last 20 years. As an illustrator, his wife Sheryl has been contracted over the years to promote XC ski events. Some of her posters from the 90s decorate the walls of Bikeworks.

PERSPECTIVE FROM THE BIKE
Nicol loves the multi-use, ever-expanding trail network. In the mornings, you see may him riding with his dog, Rex, only to be back on the trails again that evening.

For Nicol, Tahoe Donner holds a few favorites routes. For example, climbing up to the top of Mother Lode, then descending it to Hidden Gem, Coyote and back via Sidewinder and Cinnamon Twist.

He expresses his excitement for new trails planned connecting Hawk’s Peak, Hidden Gem, Sidewinder and the new Mustang Sally—as well as to surrounding trail networks in north Tahoe and Truckee.

“RIDING A WORLD-CLASS TRAIL LIKE HOLE IN THE GROUND RIGHT FROM MY HOUSE IS INCREDIBLE.”

When taking vacation, Nicol still rides his bikes. He just returned from a month in Europe where he completed three different adventure rides: a burly, high-elevation ride from Chamonix to Monaco, exploring deserted gravel roads along the Etruscan coast of Italy while seeking out the best gelato, ending with mountain biking in Scotland and a soggy race on the island of Arran called the Grinduro.

THE COMPLETE CIRCLE
Nicol is a fan of the community amenities, especially the Alder Creek Adventure Center. Open year-round to multi-sport enthusiasts and the gateway to Tahoe Donner’s trail network, the facility offers a full-service bike shop in the summer and cross country ski equipment and tuning in the winter.

“What a wonderful resource for cyclists, hikers, equestrians, skiers and snowshoers," says Nicol. "The fact that you can sit on the sunny deck after a ride and enjoy a beverage and great food, fits with my vision of how a ride should end.” In July, Nicol and Ibis Cycles sponsored a four-day bike demo event for the second consecutive year at Alder Creek Adventure Center. The event allowed riders of all skill levels to test ride the new line of bikes, including the Mojo series and the new Ripley LS, in their own community.

“The location is perfect, with lunch available mid-day and trails all around. The best way to get a feel for a bike that you are test riding is to try it out on a trail that's familiar to you.” The demo was free, but has raised $1,600 in donations over the two events to benefit the Truckee Donner Land Trust, which is doing great work in land preservation around the Truckee and Tahoe area.

ENHANCED TRAIL CONNECTION
With over 60 miles of multi-use trails covering nearly 4,000 acres, Tahoe Donner is a favorite for mountain bikers, hikers, runners, equestrians, skiers and nature lovers. The Tahoe Donner trail crew and volunteers have had a busy
summer fixing bridges, repairing sections of trails damaged by this past winter’s snowmelt, and rerouting unsustainable trail sections.

Under the guidance of Tahoe Donner Trail Manager Christina Thayer, crews are also developing new trails—the latest connecting the new East to West Mustang Sally trails between Euer Valley and Crabtree Canyon.

“We just started construction on a new trail called Upper Mother Lode,” added Thayer. “Once it's complete, you can ride from Alder Creek Adventure Center, climb to the top of Hawk's Peak, descend into Euer Valley and connect to the new Mustang Sally trails.”

Tahoe Donner’s trail evolution continues. The Truckee Donner Land Trust’s recent acquisition of Carpenter Valley opens a big opportunity for trail development connecting the Donner Lake Rim Trail to Independence Lake, via Tahoe Donner’s own trails. “The headline for the future of our trail network should be ‘Connectivity,' as we’re aiming to provide more diverse trails that reward users with new routes and incredible destinations.”

Thayer adds, “The diversity will include more challenging terrain, varying styles of trail building, adventure destinations, as well as more family-friendly options. We also hope to incorporate more restoration efforts and community involvement in trail management.”

A new trail map was designed this summer to improve wayfinding and navigation. Available at Tahoe Donner amenities and tahoedonner.com/trails.