A ride with a view: Tour de Tahoe is as much about scenery as cycling | TahoeDailyTribune.com

A ride with a view: Tour de Tahoe is as much about scenery as cycling

Susan Wood
A cyclist pedals up a grade along the East shore during the Tour de Tahoe bike ride on Sunday.

AROUND LAKE TAHOE – Anyone wanting to know why we live here should ride around the lake.

I did for the second time last Sunday in Tour de Tahoe, the lake’s version of the famous French tour with 1,500 riders.

The Tour provides 72 miles of the most gorgeous, bang-for-the-buck scenery one could ask for on a scenic ride. It’s so beautiful, organizer Curtis Fong assembles two versions. The other one, called America’s Most Beautiful Ride, is scheduled for June.

For Tour de Tahoe, the ride begins and ends at the Horizon Casino – with the first big hill going up Emerald Bay on those signature hairpin turns. On the first one, I made a solemn promise to myself: I will never take Tahoe for granted. With all my trips on a bicycle, I’ve never seen riders get off and take photos like they did last weekend. It was an “aha” experience.

The view of Emerald Bay is most appreciated when there’s minimal traffic. This requires riding in the early morning, which in the shoulder seasons may mean fingers become frozen.

This doesn’t last long, as pumping up and down the hills can warm up the most cold-blooded of souls.

And for those needing nourishment along the way, the Tour is well supported with four rest stops filled with cookies, fruit, water, Gatorade and a full lunch at Kings Beach. That goes far when you’re trying to make it what it’s billed to be – “a fun ride.”

After the scenery, my next thought involved the road. There was a concern Caltrans’ work on Highway 89 may have made the road a mess. The state placed a slurry-seal layer on the highway the week prior to the ride. It eased my mind to see the layer spread to the very edge of the bike path – when there was one. When the same thing was done over Luther Pass last year, the layer stopped near the edge of the vehicle lane, creating a hazard for riders. This was not the case this time. Kudos to the contractor.

I wished the same could be said on the Nevada side. I could tell the transportation department did its best to get the equipment out of the way and sweep up after the construction wherever possible. However, cones and barriers are hard to navigate in a vehicle – much less a bicycle. A motorist decided to do a U-turn in front of me in the split second I had crossed her path. It was not pretty. I came to a complete stop because I don’t second-guess tangling with a van.

Road hazards aside, the hills – especially the near never-ending climb up Spooner Summit – became excellent training for my next endeavor. Another major “second” in my life, I’m planning on using the cross-training to go up Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States. The first time was a backpack trip. This September, it will be a one-day challenge.

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