America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride attracts more than 3,000 cyclists |

America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride attracts more than 3,000 cyclists

Dan Thomas

Good news for those who have just decided they want to participate in America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride: Registration for the 2009 event will be available in January.

Registration for the 17th annual ride Sunday is sold out and closed, and it’s probably not a good idea to enter America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride on a whim, anyway: The shortest option is 35 miles.

“You have to be able to ride a hundred miles at altitude, No. 1,” said organizer Curtis Fong. “It’s not for beginners.”

The 3,300 riders who have registered for the 100-mile century, 72-mile tour or 35-mile fun ride/boat cruise will start out from Horizon Casino Resort early Sunday morning. In the interest of safety, they’ll be the only ones who may proceed past the traffic-control point near Camp Richardson between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. Sunday. Cyclists must present three forms of identification at traffic control – a wristband, helmet sticker and number.

“Everybody really has to be a conditioned rider and have to be experienced riders in riding roadways with other people,” Fong said.

The event begins with a check-in and bike-safety check for registered riders from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at Tahoe Sports Limited at the Village Center. Another check-in is at 5:30 a.m. Sunday at Horizon.

Century riders have a window of four to 15 minutes between 6 and 7 a.m. to start, and 72-mile riders have a two- to 15-minute start window from 7 to 7:30 a.m. Cyclists participating in the 35-mile fun ride and boat cruise must start from 6:45 to 7 a.m. From there, they ride a mile to the Ski Run Marina and board the Tahoe Queen for an 8 a.m. trip across the lake.

The rest of the riders pedal clockwise around Lake Tahoe, with an 800-foot climb to a rest stop overlooking Emerald Bay and a 1,000-foot climb to Spooner Junction. The elevation ranges between 6,300 and 7,100 feet, and cyclists will gain more than 2,600 vertical feet.

More than 1,800 of the riders are participating with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America’s Team in Training, and many of those are riding the century, which adds an out-and-back to Truckee on Highway 89 and the bike trail.

Volunteers will staff rest stops at Emerald Bay, Homewood, Truckee (for century riders), Kings Beach (with lunch) and Spooner Junction. All rest stops have first-aid and technical support available, and the first three will have drop bags for cyclists to discard clothing. There will be a sag wagon, and organizers will ask riders who come in behind cutoff times to use it to catch up.

“Without those volunteers, the ride couldn’t happen,” Fong said. “I want to thank the volunteers.”

The 35-mile cyclists will rejoin the ride for the final stretch back to the Horizon.

Emerald Bay Road will be closed to all traffic from 6:15 to 8:45 a.m. Sunday. Motorists should be ready to share the road with cyclists on the whole route.

A few spots might be open for riders to register on the day of the event at Horizon. Late fees apply, and organizers are asking unregistered cyclists not to participate to ensure safety and allow America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride to continue in the future.

“We just hope everybody rides single-file and has a safe ride,” Fong said.

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