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Around Lake Tahoe...(long, w/pics)

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Road Cycling It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. -- Ernest Hemingway

Around Lake Tahoe...(long, w/pics)

Old 08-30-10, 10:15 AM
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Around Lake Tahoe...(long, w/pics)

My brother and I don't get to see each other much, but when we do, we try to get in rides whenever possible. Two years ago our big ride was a trip up and down Mt. Hamilton (Ride report), in the SF Bay Area. This year, knowing we were going to be at Lake Tahoe at the same time, we planned to circumnavigate the lake...something my brother had done several years ago as a participant in the "Worlds most beautiful Ride" ride for the Tour de Cure.

In preparation, I had done a few rides upon arriving at the lake, including this one, in beatiful weather.

My brother and his family arrived Saturday afternoon and the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Small craft warnings and the threat of thunderstorms made us second-guess ourselves about the ride the next day. Temps had dropped into the mid-40's.

We got up the next morning to find it had rained overnight, temps were still in the mid-40's, although the winds had died. Forecasts still predicted 70% chance of showers/thunderstorms.

For the next hour, while fueling up, our conversation went like this: "Ya wanna do it?", "Uh...I don't know, you?", "I don't know, you?"...and so on. Finally, we decided that we'd regret not attempting it and got ready to go.

I haven't done much cold weather riding and had to borrow both a vest and a jacket from my brother. I had some long-finger gloves, a warm cap for under my helmet, arm warmers, some PI Therma-fleece leg warmers and some wool socks I had picked up in Tahoe City the day before.


I had no idea that the warm cap under my helmet (I'm on the left) accentuated my mushroom head even more!!!


We began the ride with a climb from the lake level up to the highway and turned right in order to start our clockwise trek around the lake. At this point, we're about 10 miles in, looking at our starting point, just around the point of land on the left side of the pic.


There were a lot more stops for pics during the first half of the ride. We've already crossed into Nevada at this point.


Looking back along the shoreline...the clouds looking farily ominous, but we're riding away from them.


This is one of two big climbs on the ride...the ascent to Spooner summer. It begins at the lake elevation of about 6240' and climbs over 6 miles to 7020' feet. Not a steep climb but it certainly keeps your heart rate up!


Me on the same climb, making it look easy!

During this climb, the skies ahead began to darken. We talked briefly about our plan of action should the heavens open up. About a mile from the summit, I began to smell wet pavement and sure enough, we started feeling some small hail/sleet and could see ahead at the highway intersection that the road was completely wet.

Thankfully, there was a "Watercraft Inspection Station" set up off to the side of the highway and there was a small canopy under which we sought shelter.

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Old 08-30-10, 10:18 AM
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In the next 10 minutes, the rain let up completely and we decided to make a run for Stateline, about 7-10 miles down a long 4 lane highway. This was the wettest, coldest most treacherous descent I've ever done. As it had just stopped raining, there was still a lot of water on the road. Additionally, there isn't much of a shoulder, so we took the right lane. Since this was the first rain in a while, there was a lot of oil, which made certain sections of the road look like they were awash with soapy water. At one point, my bike started to quiver and I realized it was me shivering! By the bottom, my hands and feet were practically frozen...but we made it without incident!

We continued our ride through South Shore and decided to a stop for lunch.


This place was good...Gyros and Filafel sandwiches, but they took forever! This did provide us the opportunity to dry out a bit and warm up.

We were now more than half-way through our ride, and with renewed energy, we took off for the ride up to Emerald Bay.


Traffic was moderately heavy but after the ride we agreed that we never felt in any danger.


We stopped once prior to reaching Emerald Bay. Here's me with South Lake Tahoe in the background.


This shot was taken by my brother from about where he is in the previous picture above. This is looking up at a popular backpacking area called "Desolation Wilderness". It's an amazing area to backpack.


Also off to the left of this climb is Fallen Leaf Lake.


And here is Emerald Bay. The previous two pictures were taken from the ridge you can see across the bay. You can barely make out the road on the top of the ridge on the right.

After Emerald Bay, it was another 18 miles back to our start with no stops...we wanted to get back and warm up.




Of course, we're ecstatic we did the ride. The final mileage according to my brother's computer was 73.4, with a 14mph average (who cares!). I'd like to do it again on a nicer day, especially the descent off Spooner summit, but I'll take what I can get.

Today the bike goes back into it's box to be shipped home to Austin, and we head down the mountain to the Bay Area before flying home.
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Old 08-30-10, 10:19 AM
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Great pics. I've driven it, and it's sure a beautiful ride.
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Old 08-30-10, 10:21 AM
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Nice pics. My wife and I drove up to South Lake on Saturday and drove 89 over to Squaw and back down. It was awesome up there, but chilly. This is actually my favorite time of year up there.

Have you done any backpacking in Desolation? We did Lyon's lake last year and it was pretty amazing. I'd love to do more in the future.
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Old 08-30-10, 10:30 AM
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Excellent pics. looks like a great ride.
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Old 08-30-10, 10:34 AM
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Great shots! Some of my favorite riding in the world. (That slog up to Spooner's a bear, isn't it? Not particularly steep but it just seems to go on forever.)

Well done.
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Old 08-30-10, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by nachomc
Have you done any backpacking in Desolation? We did Lyon's lake last year and it was pretty amazing. I'd love to do more in the future.
My first backback trip ever was into Desolation...up Horsetail Falls and into the Lake Aloha area. It had been a huge winter and we went the first week backbackers were allowed in. It was spectacular...so much water all over the place. Made about 5 other trips over the years and enjoyed every one of them.
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Old 08-30-10, 11:23 AM
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Beautiful ride... I'm planning on doing that one early next month and can't wait.
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Old 08-30-10, 12:21 PM
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I did that ride back when I was in college over the summer while visiting my parents in Incline Village. At the time, it was the longest ride I had ever done. Very scenic of course, but I don't really remember much about it other than looking across the lake and realizing that was where I was going, or later, that that was where I had been. I do recall the shoulders being very small most of the way and a fair amount of traffic, but I was young enough that I didn't care about little things like cars. ha ha. I'm glad you had a good time and that you posted this, because believe it or not, I was just thinking about that ride yesterday and whether or not anyone still rides around the lake. My brother still lives in Incline and he thinks the cyclists are a road hazard and not too smart. Some truth to the that, I guess, because there are LOTS of tourists who like to look at the lake while driving...

Another good ride is from Incline to Truckee to Tahoe City and back to Incline (kind of a triangle and around 50 mi if I remember correctly). The descent on the back of Brockway summit toward Truckee is where I clocked my all-time fastest speed at 59.5 mph. I also always wanted to ride over Mt. Rose from Reno to Tahoe, but never tried it. Might be a good excuse to visit my brother...
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Old 08-30-10, 12:27 PM
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Absolutely gorgeous... hoping maybe next summer I will be ready/able to do this. Great pics and well done
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Old 08-30-10, 12:52 PM
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This is a beautiful one! I may conquer it one day. Simply amazing!
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Old 08-30-10, 12:53 PM
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Great pics! Thanks. Here's one of my photos I took a couple weeks ago when I circled the lake.
This is my ride report.
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Old 08-30-10, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Nachoman

Great pics! Thanks. Here's one of my photos I took a couple weeks ago when I circled the lake.
This is my ride report.
Was funny to read your impression of the Crystal Bay area on the North side. Those casino's are ghetttoooooo
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Old 08-30-10, 01:49 PM
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Nice report.
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Old 08-31-10, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by SBRDude
Another good ride is from Incline to Truckee to Tahoe City and back to Incline (kind of a triangle and around 50 mi if I remember correctly). The descent on the back of Brockway summit toward Truckee is where I clocked my all-time fastest speed at 59.5 mph.
Wow! I had mapped out that ride but didn't get around to it. Our top speed was 40mph coming down from the high point at Emerald Bay.

Originally Posted by SBRDude
I also always wanted to ride over Mt. Rose from Reno to Tahoe, but never tried it.
The other I had mapped out was up to the top of the Old Donner Summit...either starting in Truckee or from our place just north of Tahoe City. Again...just ran out of time.

Originally Posted by nachomc
Was funny to read your impression of the Crystal Bay area on the North side. Those casino's are ghetttoooooo
My wife took my 22 YO daughter to the north side for her first gambling experience. They first went into Cal-Neva, noting there were only a few cars in the parking lot. When the asked directions to the casino, they were told it was currently closed but should be opening again in the fall "once the lawsuit is settled"! Turns out it was the result of an investment scam, a la Madoff, in 2006, where investors lost between 200,00 and 8M bucks each.

Originally Posted by Nachoman
Here's one of my photos I took a couple weeks ago when I circled the lake.
That pic is definitely misleading with respects to the available space for biking. It would be great if it was that way the whole way around!
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Old 08-31-10, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by dstrong
W
That pic is definitely misleading with respects to the available space for biking. It would be great if it was that way the whole way around!
The area around Emerald Bay SP makes me uncomfortable, especially that ridge with basically no shoulder and pretty big drop offs to either side. And of course the switch back section.
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Old 08-31-10, 07:54 PM
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nice pics!
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Old 08-31-10, 08:07 PM
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This post and the one Nachoman posted a couple of weeks ago have convinced me to add Tahoe to my "must ride" list sometime in the next couple of years.
Are there shops in the area where you can rent a decent road bike instead of having to pack one up and fly it out there?

Nice post and great photos!
thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-31-10, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by nachomc
The area around Emerald Bay SP makes me uncomfortable, especially that ridge with basically no shoulder and pretty big drop offs to either side. And of course the switch back section.
I think the picture of my brother from behind could be the section you're referring to. The one where he's being passed by the green Subaru. Fallen Lake to the left, Emerald Bay to the right....drop offs on both side...for cars too!

What's funny is that on our drive up to the Bay Area, we ended up visiting some friends in Eldorado Hills and decided to take 50 up to the lake...so we ended up driving the section from south shore to Tahoe City. As I was driving, I was thinking "Holy crap! This looks really dangerous!". It didn't seem as bad riding it.


Originally Posted by BarryJo
Are there shops in the area where you can rent a decent road bike instead of having to pack one up and fly it out there?
There are several shops right in Tahoe City that rent road bikes. I went into Olympic Bike Shop to get my leg warmers and they said they rent Trek 1.5's and Caad 9's. Just down the street is "Dave's" but I don't know what they offer.
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Old 08-31-10, 10:24 PM
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A+ thread. We need more threads like this.
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Old 09-01-10, 08:43 AM
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Nice! Felt like I was there with you.
Thanks,
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Old 09-03-10, 01:45 PM
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Good stuff...
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Old 09-03-10, 06:52 PM
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Great ride. I've done it for 4 years with Team in Training (although they add a loop out to Truckee to get it up to a century). If the ride isn't beautiful enough, it sure feels good to be part of a 2000 person team that usually raises $7-8 million for Leukemia research.
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Old 09-03-10, 07:00 PM
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I have done the Tahoe marathon and I have been wanting to do the bike ride that they have with the marathon every year. I was a bit intimidated by the climb to Spooner Lake, but I guess it's not that bad.
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Old 09-03-10, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by dstrong
My wife took my 22 YO daughter to the north side for her first gambling experience. They first went into Cal-Neva, noting there were only a few cars in the parking lot. When the asked directions to the casino, they were told it was currently closed but should be opening again in the fall "once the lawsuit is settled"! Turns out it was the result of an investment scam, a la Madoff, in 2006, where investors lost between 200,00 and 8M bucks each.
My family has had a place at North Shore or lived there since I was a young kid. Mid 1970s. The Cal-Neva has always been on a "comeback." Even when it is open, you can usually shoot a canon through it. Great piece of real estate, but just a terrible location for a casino. The other ones, while nicer now, have always been a far cry from the nicer places on South Shore. I think one use to be called the Nevada Bowl, but my mom always called it the Tahoe Toilet.
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