Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lake Tahoe - Long Weekend and Long Ride

HS and I decided to get away for a few days. He suggested we go to Tahoe and take our bikes and dogs with us. This was going to be a first. We've brought the bikes before on a long weekend, but never the dogs. Since our trip coincided with my recovery week, I imagined lots of long, leisurely walks with the dogs and one very specific ride.

Once HS suggested Tahoe and bikes, I started looking for routes in the area. I came across Tahoe Adventure Sport's website and knew immediately I had found the ride for us...
"The ride around Lake Tahoe is almost an obligatory ride for any serious road bike enthusiast, but even for recreational riders, the tour around the lake is within the range of possibility. At 72 miles with a vertical gain/loss of over 4000 feet, however, the ride around the lake requires some training before riding. With only two long, steep hills, the lake is well within reach of intermediate riders."
Let's Go

The trip got off to a rocky start as Buster's nervous gut kicked in before we even got to Highway 99...maybe we should have taken a different route than the one we normally take to the kennel ;-) Eventually he settled down and the rest of the drive was uneventful.

Nothing like hanging your head out the window to calm down
We found our "cabin" and quickly settled in. HS made some repairs to his bike and then we took the dogs on a much shorter walk than I had planned. Our 12-1/2 year old female got about 1/2 a mile away from the cabin and then basically stopped walking. HS had to carry her back which did not make him very happy.


Once HS finished his repairs, we decided to take a short ride down the road to Camp Richardson so we could get a rum runner at The Beacon. South Lake Tahoe is making a big effort on creating a bike friendly town. We were able to ride on a path or route all the way to our destination.

Beauty and the Beach
I hate to admit it, but we were not very well prepared. When we got to The Beacon and saw the bike racks, we realized we didn't have any bike locks. Ugh! Of course there was no way we were going to leave our bikes out of sight and unlocked, so we walk on to the beach (in our bike shoes) and leaned the bikes against a tree that allowed us to keep an eye on them while we ate.

I only came here for the rum runner
We each had a rum runner and HS ordered us fried calamari and Wagyu beef sliders. It turned out to be WAY too much food and I was thankful we rode our bikes...at least we would burn off some of the calories. The round trip was roughly 12-1/2 miles...not bad for our first day.

The Big Ride - First Half

When we woke up Friday morning, we had no set plans. We weren't even sure what day we would ride around the lake. I checked the Tahoe Adventure Sport's website again and noticed this warning...
"Advisory: This ride can be dangerous in heavy traffic. During the summer, especially on weekends, there are lots of angry drivers out there who resent your prescence. Add to those freaks the "lets rent an RV and go to Tahoe" set and you need to exercise extreme caution, especially around Emerald Bay, Tahoe City, and South Lake Tahoe."
I read the warning to HS and he said we should do the ride now. Alrighty then! We changed into our bike gear, aired up our tires and filled our water bottles.

The first part of the ride basically mirrored our ride to Camp Richardson the day before. I made one wrong turn as we followed the bike route through a neighborhood, but that would prove to be the only time we got off course the rest of the day.

After passing Camp Richardson, we continued on our journey along a dedicated bike path that followed Highway 89. My only wish was that we could have the bike path for the entire route. Unfortunately, I knew we were approaching the portion of the route marked as "Caution: Little or no shoulder"

Blue and yellow dashed line = Caution 
It was also along this yellow and blue caution section that we encountered our first climb. It wasn't especially steep, it just seemed to climb forever. Throw in some hairpin turns and the fact that there weren't many places to safely stop, and I found myself completely forgetting about how much I hated hills...I just needed to keep going.

Views like this make the ride worth it!
The ride was beautiful and traffic was pretty light. On top of that, the condition of the road was good and there were several freshly paved sections that made our descents quite fun. We made a few stops for pics and to refuel. The day seemed perfect!

Anybody want to go for a swim?

Well, perfect until HS got a flat. It was actually a ghost flat. Once HS got the tube out, we could not find a leak or puncture...nothing sharp in the tire and the valve was closed and holding air. In fact, the tube was still holding air, it was just a little flat. Hmmm... Just to be safe, he put in a new tube.

HS fixing his flat and me just goofing around

Just in case you don't have a signal on your cell phone ;-)
Some where around Carnellian Bay / King's Beach, we stopped and got something to eat. We were both starving and realized that in our haste to get out the door and on our bikes, we really didn't eat enough breakfast. I had 100 calorie Greek yogurt and a peach and HS had a few cinnamon rolls... not exactly the best thing when taking on a 72 mile ride around Lake Tahoe.

Lunch time...still smiling :-)

We scarfed down our lunch and got back on our bikes. We were at roughly the half-way point and I needed to keep moving.

The Big Ride - Second Half

No pics, no goofing around...things got real in the second half of the ride as the wind started to pick up.

My Garmin reported a 14 mph SSW wind. Weather Underground reported a 9 mph SSW wind with a max wind speed of 26 mph and gusts up to 38 mph...more on this later. All I will say right now is the wind SUCKED!!!

Not sure I would have gotten on the bike if I knew this info in advance

At this point in the ride, the climbs seemed to be unending. How can you climb and climb and climb and never get to go down hill? Is it just in my mind? We finally crested a hill and it appeared that we would finally get to pick up some speed and coast for a bit. Unfortunately, this was my first battle with the wind gusts. HS was getting blown around and so you can guess what was happening to me. The wind was so strong that I was temped to get off my bike and walk DOWN HILL!!! Down hill? Seriously, Tracy? YES!!! I was terrified. 

I think my biggest fear was getting tossed into the path of a vehicle coming up behind me (not much shoulder again). I rode my brakes and prayed for the wind to stop.

More of the yellow & blue = caution route :-(

As we progressed along the lake, we got occasional breaks in the wind...usually when the path traveled away from the lake. Unfortunately, the wind was something we had to battle for the rest of our ride, and if I thought it was bad before now, it was about to get much worse!

I'm not much of a map reader. I focused on the written descriptions of the route sections. I focused on stupid stuff like this...
"From Spooner Summit, turn right onto US 50 and enjoy the four mile downhill with gorgeous views of the Lake Tahoe. On the way you will pass Glenbrook, home to the rich and famous."
What didn't register in my pea brain was the fact that we would be riding on a four lane section of Highway 50. On top of that, the wind got worse! Terrified does not adequately describe how I was feeling. Here I was on a four lane section of highway desperately squeezing my brakes in order to try and crawl down the hill and not get blown into the grill of a semi!

We then came to a tunnel that required you to press a crosswalk style button to activate the flashers so the cars screaming by on highway 50 would know there were bikes in the tunnel! WTF??? If I wasn't so tired and wind/sun burned, I would have turned around and gone back the way I came. Thankfully the tunnel was extremely short.

The rest of the ride consisted of small to virtually non-existent shoulders, increasing traffic, wind, and seemingly never ending climbs (it was probably all in my head). I couldn't wait for it to be over. State-line was a welcome sight and a few miles later we were back at our cabin. Yay!!!

We celebrated with a little champagne I picked up after Barb's Race
All in all, it was a great day, and I'm glad it's something HS and I could do together ;-)

Lake Tahoe Ride by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Gory Details

Only two significant climbs LOL