HOMEWOOD, Calif. — If you happened to be driving down the West Shore of Lake Tahoe this past Friday, you may have come across a large group of bicyclists happily pedaling along the highway, led by a couple of some fast-looking, very skinny individuals in bright Lycra race suits.
By “come across,” we mean traveling behind, as they were spread from gutter to yellow line, and by “very fast-looking,” we mean that they weren’t the usual weekend warrior visiting Tahoe clad in the jerseys of their favorite bike teams.
No, these were the real thing, professional riders Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck and Jens Voigt of the RadioShack/Trek Cycling Team, all veterans of many Grand Tour races, and in Andy’s case, the 2010 winner of cycling’s equivalent of the Super Bowl, the Tour D’ France.
Thanks to local resident Franz Weber, a six-time World Speed Skiing Champion, Radioshack/Trek was able to bring these three to Reno and Tahoe for a couple of days of training and promoting before Andy Schleck and Voigt traveled on to Colorado for the U.S. Pro Cycling Tour event this week.
In Reno on Thursday, approximately 500 people were drawn to downtown for a “meet, greet and ride” with the pros, an event that ultimately benefitted the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway project.
Friday morning found a smaller, but enthusiastic, crew of riders at Homewood on Lake Tahoe’s west shore, eager to meet the pros, get autographs and — for a donation to the Bikeway — have their photos taken with them.
Then the entire peloton headed off to Emerald Bay, a chance for local riders of all abilities to imagine that they, too, were in Le Tour, riding, chatting and drafting these pros, complete with motorcycle escorts and film crews.
Imagine a San Francisco Giants fan being able to take batting practice alongside Pablo Sandoval, or a 49er enthusiast playing catch with Colin Kaepernick. The smiles on the riders’ faces told it all.
When asked about the cause, fan-favorite Voigt stated that, “There is big support for this cause, for the bike path from lake to lake. I’m happy to be here and feel honored that I have been invited, to be part of this adventure.”
Janet Phillips, founder of the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway, said she was “thrilled with the turnout. It was a great deal for the Bikeway.”
For more information on the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway, go to http://www.tpbikeway.org. For a selected gallery of photos from the ride at Lake Tahoe, go to http://macbethgraphics.smugmug.com/BICYCLING-COMPETITIONS/2013-bikeraces/RADIOSHACK-TAHOE-RIDE.