Beauty beckons bicyclists for a ride |

Beauty beckons bicyclists for a ride

B.H. Bose

Despite a thunderstorm that rolled through the area Saturday night, cyclists participating in Sunday’s seventh annual America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride were greeted with glorious, sunny skies.

Approximately 1,700 biking enthusiasts turned out early Sunday morning to ride in the event, which featured three options – a 72-mile ride around the lake, a 94-mile ride around the lake that included a loop down Highway 89 through Truckee and back to Kings Beach via Highway 267, and a 35-mile ride from Tahoe City. All rides started at Zephyr Cove, and those opting to do the shortest ride were transported by boat to the starting location in Tahoe City.

“This is definitely our largest year. It continues to get bigger and bigger,” said Jill Breshears, a volunteer at the event. “This is probably the most beautiful bike ride in the country, so we have a lot of people who return.”

Started by Curtis Fong, The Guy From Tahoe, the ride is more than a simple pleasure tour with a scenic view. Rest stops are set up at specific locations, so riders are able to get something to eat and drink, and relax. There is also an after-ride dinner at Zephyr Cove. Fong and other volunteers monitor the ride to make sure everything goes smoothly by providing repairs, first aid and other support if needed, Breshears said.

Taking part in this weekend’s event were about 700 people from the Leukemia Society of America’s Team in Training Program. Riding for a patient with leukemia, the cyclists took to the streets to raise money and awareness to help find a cure for the deadly disease.

“The team met in the lobby at about 6 a.m. ready to roll and even did a few team cheers,” said Tracy Newman, executive director of the Greater Sacramento Area Chapter of the society. “We went to bed when it was storming, so even though we were going to do this rain or shine, we were praying for sun because most of the riders are amateurs.”

Newman said a pasta dinner was held at the Horizon on Saturday night for all competitors and their families and friends, and a victory party at Harveys was planned for Sunday night.

“They have come from all over the country to get here. Of course, Lake Tahoe is a beautiful destination,” Newman said, adding that the Tahoe ride has been a part of the Team in Training Program for three years. “This just gets bigger and bigger.”

There are a number of ways to raise money, said Newman, and the society helps members find “creative fund-raising ideas.” Many of the riders were sponsored by the mile. Approximately $1.7 million will be raised through the bike ride for leukemia research, said Newman.

As for the event, things were going smoothly and the weather was cooperating, Breshears said, as lunch was being prepared at the Zephyr Cove location.

“We have people coming back year after year, because it truly is a well-organized, family fun event,” Breshears said.

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