Colleen Moore
Special to the Bonanza

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September 6, 2012
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Meet Your Merchant: Replenish after a long bike ride at Tunnel Creek Station

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Looking to get outside and enjoy the last few days of summer while getting some exercise? Stop by Flume Trail Bikes to explore the Flume Trail, Spooner Lake and surrounding areas.

The shop, which opened in 1999, rents specialty dual suspension mountain bikes from companies such as Specialized, Giant and Ibis for use in the state park. It now has two locations, at Spooner Lake and Tunnel Creek. Bike rentals are available at the Spooner Lake shop, while the newly opened Tunnel Creek Station is just a cafe for now.

“Our location at Tunnel Creek in Incline is new and will start as a cafe,” founder and owner Max Jones explained. “Our shuttles have been picking people up here for four years and taking them back to their cars at Spooner.”

Flume Trail Bikes offers a Flume Trail shuttle ever day, while offering a Tahoe Rim Trail shuttle every even day. These shuttles run until November, and cost just $15 if you have your own bike, and $10 if you rent from Flume Trail. For the Rim Trail shuttle, reservations are strongly recommended.

The shops are owned and operated by Jones and his wife, Patti McMullan. The duo lives in Carson City, but lived in Incline Village for several years, prior to moving.

“(I am) a fourth generation Nevadan,” Jones added.

He also knows a thing or two about mountain biking. A professional mountain bike racer for 12 years, Jones was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1998. Locals may know him as the man who rebuilt the Flume Tail to make it rideable, which, at 26 miles long, sees about 70,000 visitors each summer, according to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame website.

A two-time national champion, Jones was also on the Tahoe Rim Trail Board of Directors for 7 years. When Jones retired from professional mountain biking, he decided he needed something to do during the summers.

“(Our goal) is to rent nice mountain bikes for the most scenic trail in Lake Tahoe, and provide a shuttle service from Tunnel Creek back to Spooner and to reduce traffic on the East Shore,” he said.

The shop takes care in protecting the lake and surrounding areas, only offering shuttles for the Tahoe Rim Trail if there are four or more people on board. With the new location at Tunnel Creek, riders are able to leave their car there.

“It will be more convenient for people now to park here (at Spooner), take the shuttle to the start of their ride and then end up at their car at Tunnel Creek Station,” Jones said.

New this year, the shop has opened a little cafe at the Tunnel Creek Station.

“We have excellent coffee,” Jones said. “We will offer pastries and light breakfast food, sandwiches, paninis, wraps, smoothies, iced drinks and beer. Our goal is to replenish after a day of recreation at Tahoe, so people can make it to dinner at one of the many fine restaurants at the lake.”

The cafe will be open year round, Jones added.

Prices for the mountain bikes vary according to the bike you rent. For a more basic bike, a Specialized Camber Comp, a rental is $45 for the day. For the most expensive bike, which usually retails around $4,500, you can try it for the day for $75.

“We figured that people would like to try nice bikes to compare before purchasing one. Or, (if a customer) cannot justify buying an expensive bike, but would want a nice ride the few times a year they come up and ride at Tahoe,” Jones explained.

The shop has already begun planning next season, as Jones plans to add road bike rentals to the rental fleet. Another change on the horizon is that after this season, the bike rental operation will move entirely to Tunnel Creek Station.

Jones assures riders, though, there will still be a shuttle taking riders to Spooner, making it a one way ride back to Incline Village.

If you’re looking to get outside while getting exercise before the snow starts to fall, stop by Flume Trail Bikes, at Spooner Lake (for bike rentals), and Tunnel Creek for a cup of coffee and a bike ride.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Sep 6, 2012 12:27PM Published Sep 6, 2012 12:25PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.