Monday, August 17, 2009


I rode around Lake Tahoe last weekend. I had done this once, probably 17 years ago, so my impression of the ride is totally different now. For one thing, it was a lot flatter than I remembered. Probably because many of the rides in my area begin with a steep climb to get out of the valley. Don't get me wrong, there's some real elevation change, it's just not really steep. Also, You don't spend as much time looking at the lake as I remembered. The scenery is all fantastic, but there's more mountain meadow, hillside and housing than I remember. The meadows and hillsides aren't new, but maybe the housing is. Anyway, I thought I'd write down some advice, partially to help myself remember, and partially as a trip report for others wishing to do the ride.

-Ride on a weekday. Summer weekends in Tahoe are very crowded.

-Ride on the lake side (go clockwise). In the steep sections around Emerald Bay, drivers are more likely looking at the lake than the ditch on the other side of the road.

-Start early. Beach traffic and thunderstorms are more likely in the afternoon.

-Bring a rain jacket and some arm warmers. I didn't need them, but as with any alpine travel, the weather can get exciting.

-There are lots of state parks and beaches where highways 267 and 89 meet the lake. Good spots for toilets and water.

-Incline Village has some city parks for water and the Nevada scenic overlook south of that is the last water source until the Cave Rock Area. You can avoid the highway for a bit on Lakeshore Blvd. in this area. Wish I'd known.

-There's a really fast descent down Higway 50 on the East side of the lake. This is an interstate but you can go really fast. I took up the right lane since there was another lane to pass me and no shoulder.

-Forget Stateline (South shore). It's a shoulderless, confused, drunken, gambling addicted urban driving scene. There may be a better way to go through the Tahoe Keys, but I couldn't find it and the bike path system is confusing and worthless. Make your stops before or after town and blast through.

-There's a cool historic site just past Stateline with water fountains, a nice beach and some giant stone and timber lodges built by rich San Franciscans at the turn of the last century. Good place to stop and snack before the big Emerald Bay inclines.

-The bike path on the West shore is a mess of strollers, kids with training wheels and people walking 3 abreast. Hardly good for riding. If the traffic is light, stay on the narrow shoulder, if not, the path crosses the road many times and you can get back on it. People appreciate it when you shout 'On your left!' more than being buzzed.

-There is a mile marker system that begins in Tahoe City and goes clockwise.

-Round trip, minus side routes ~72 miles. I averaged 15 mph and had a late lunch in the grocery store parking lot in Tahoe City. Total fuel consumed - 1/4 lb of G.O.R.P. and a Cliff Bar


Anonymous said...

What do you think about this race:

I'm thinking of entering.

-p said...

"This is not a closed course" is an understatement. Riding on Highway 50 or along the West shore in race mode might be sketchy. Also, given the nature of the course (only one circuit!), you're kind of up shit creek if you have a mechanical. I feel this makes a better tour than a race. However, it's a great benchmark to find your time on since it's a very well defined path (like Mt. Washington :-)