On Sunday Kerry and I completed the 20th Annual America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, a 100 mile ride around lake Tahoe. Beautiful yes and also a little brutal too…as you can see from our muddy faces.
We awoke at 4:30am to the sound of heavy rain outside, not fun. With temperatures in the low 40’s it was time to layer up and put on those waterproofs (and shower cap). Funny, the day before we’d dropped into the local Pearl Izumi store, it was packed and they’d pretty much sold out of all rain gear…with riders from across the country I’m guessing most didn’t expect California to be this cold and wet in June!
At 5:45 Kerry’s TNT ride-group headed out from the hotel with me tagging on behind, it was raining and just getting light, 100 miles stretched out ahead of us, rain or shine. From the state line in South Lake Tahoe we headed clockwise and I quickly realized that I should have had breakfast a little sooner, so time for a quick rest stop and then a fast peddle to catch up with Kerry at the top of the first climb at Emerald Bay. The rain was letting up a little as we headed to the next rest stop at Homewood and mile 30.
Finally some sun and it was off too Tahoe City and an out-and-return to Truckee. At mile 50 we arrived at the Truckee turn around and the next rest stop. On the way back from Truckee one of our group took a tumble after their front wheel got caught in a rut, thankfully they didn’t take out anyone else and jumped right back on their bike…this is a hard-core bunch.
From Truckee it was on to Kings Beach, lunch and the 70 mile mark. It was still chilly but thankfully mostly dry…although clouds ahead indicated that was soon to change. I donned my waterproof trousers again in preparation for the rain ahead, which greeted us just up the road heading into Incline Village. At mile 75 the last big climb up to Spooner’s Summit began just as the rain eased again. Spooner’s is a 9 mile climb to over 7000′ from lake level, after 6+ hours on the bike that’s a hard climb. An hour and a half later I was at the summit and the sun was out again…mile 86 and mostly down hill from here. I basked in the sun waiting for Kerry who’d stopped to help one of her team mates who’d had a flat earlier on.
The 5 mile downhill was just reward after that climb and it was rolling hills through Cave Rock and back to the state line for the finish…although by that point rolling hills didn’t feel quite so rolling!
100 miles and 9 hours 30 minutes later it was all over, total ride time was just over 7 hours…that’s a lot of stopping time, more than expected…what can I say, I blame the weather.
All-in-all a challenging ride, truly beautiful and one I hope to do again on a sunnier day.
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