Fingers are crossed for good air quality, but either way cyclists will be biking around Lake Tahoe this weekend.
The 11th Annual Tour de Tahoe Ride to Cure Diabetes, presented by Bike Big Blue, will be held smoke or shine on Sunday. Despite uncertain air quality due to the Rim Fire, a 200,000-plus acre fire in Yosemite National Park, event officials are preparing for about 1,800 cyclists to turn up for the 72-mile bike ride in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“There’s not really much more we can do at this point,” event director Curtis Fong said. “We can’t give away refunds and there’s no option to cancel or reschedule.”
What cyclists can do is check the bike ride website at www.bikethewest.com, where there is a link to current fire information and the air quality index. There is also a link to Heavenly Mountain Resort’s Gunbarrel chair camera, which points down to Stateline and gives a good visual of air quality.
“Based on the conditions, we are asking people to consult their physician on whether or not they should participate,” Fong said. “We have an agreement with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to produce the ride regardless.”
Refunds will not be given, but cyclists can transfer their application as a credit toward next year’s ride if they do so by noon today.
Fong is optimistic for clear skies as the air has seemed to be steadily clearing up in the past week. Regardless, cyclists will be lined up at Horizon Casino Resort at Stateline, Nev., on Sunday morning.
“We’re moving forward with the ride, and so far I think we only have three official cancellations to move to next year,” Fong said. “Conditions change day-to-day and hour-to-hour so people just need to monitor and let us know by noon on Wednesday if they’ll be riding.”
Those riding will choose between two different tour options based on ability level.
There is a 35-mile half ride for “recreational” bicyclists that starts with a sightseeing boat cruise and continental breakfast on the Tahoe Queen and ends with a 35-mile bike ride back to the Horizon via the East Shore.
Then there’s also the 72-mile route that will loop cyclists clockwise around Lake Tahoe along scenic stretches of highway with more than 4,000 vertical feet of climbing.
The Sunday after Labor Day weekend was originally selected because it has the lowest traffic count of any weekend day in September. Fong sees the tour as a perfect way to say goodbye to summer.
“It gives people the opportunity to come to Lake Tahoe, post Labor Day, spend one more weekend up here, enjoy what we have and be able to ride their bike around the lake,” Fong said. “And, at this time of year, we get more experienced, seasoned cyclists who have been riding all summer and know the rules of the road.”
Check-in and late registration will kick off Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. at Tahoe Sports LTD. Cyclist can also check-in or register on the morning of the ride in the back parking lot of Horizon from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m.
“We’re about 1,700 right now, and we’ll normally register another 80 to 100 at late registration if conditions are good,” Fong said.