You may remember a previous blog post that recaptured my experience during the Rockwell Relay (now called Vision Relay), which consisted of a 4-man – 525 mile cycling race from Moab to St. George, Utah. The ride is beautiful and challenging (especially since it’s a timed raced), but it is exhausting since it goes through the night. After the relay, I considered the lack of sleep, the added costs of registration, hotel, and a motor home (to crash in after each leg of the race), and had the idea to create my own ultimate ride. My cycling friends were enticed by the idea. I had always heard how pretty Lake Tahoe was, but had never been. So, I through the idea out to my cycling friends and they all immediately jumped on board. I got on Airbnb and found a beautiful cabin just outside of Truckee, CA in the Tahoe Donner area that slept up to 15 adults. We booked the cabin in November for a three day Lake Tahoe destination cycling trip the end of June.
Day One: Truckee to Donner Pass Summit
After reading blogs and calling the local bike shops, we consciously planned our trip during the week – knowing that a ride around Lake Tahoe could be dangerous due to heavy weekend traffic. Our adventure began Thursday morning at 5:30 am. We loaded up and left Utah early, hoping to get to Tahoe by three o’clock p.m. so we could get a good ride in before dinner.
Shortly after arriving at the cabin, we left for Donner Pass, which is where the famous Donner Party took place. Along with the chilling events of history, there was an outstanding overlook of Donner Lake through the iconic Donner Summit Bridge on the Highway 40 Scenic Bypass. We rode around Donner Lake on the way back. The ride consisted of 23 miles with 2,300 ft of climbing.
After the ride we retreated back to the cabin to hot tub, barbecue and relax in nature’s beauty to prepare for the next morning’s ride around the lake.
Day Two – Ride Around Lake Tahoe
The longest day of the Lake Tahoe destination ride took us along Highway 267 where we climbed from Truckee up past North Star ski resort. We dropped down to Kings Beach where we started our 75 mile ride clockwise around Lake Tahoe. We then climbed back up Highway 267 northbound into Truckee. Fortunately, the vehicle traffic around the lake was light that day. We rode 108 miles and climbed 7,900 ft.
I was truly breath taken by the beauty of the blue water and white snow caps covering the mountains. The ride is a continuous up and down for 75 miles, but the views seem to make you forget how hard the ride is. We stopped at Crystal Bay and Emerald Bay to take pictures and soak in the unforgettable views.
Day Three – Dirt and Road
The six of us who had mountain bikes took on the famous Flume Trail, which is a moderately difficult one way 14 mile ride. It is at 7000’ to 8000’ feet in elevation with over 1000’ of climbing in the first 4 miles and 4.5 miles of single track. The top of the climb ends at Marlette Lake – a beautiful mountain lake surrounded by mountain pines. However, Tahoe got pounded with snow this year, so there was a 5 foot wall of snow between the trail and the lake. Fortunately, someone had shoveled a pass, so mountain bikers could ride around the lake and get on the Flume Trail. Cyclists choose this ride because it is truly one of the premier trails in the world. We took in the stunning views with hardly anyone else around.
The rest of the group rode in a triangle from Truckee to Lake Tahoe and back, which consisted of riding along the Truckee River. They even spotted a mama bear with her two cubs crossing the road.
After the Flume Trail, I was only 30 miles away from riding 300 miles for the week. So, we took some R&R time and got back on our bikes that evening. As the sun was going down, we cruised along the Truckee River and I accomplished my 300 miles. The ride along Truckee River was slightly down hill, so we averaged 25 mph back to Truckee.
We could have stayed closer to Lake Tahoe, but chose Tahoe Donner because it was close to Downtown Truckee, which was a huge advantage to the trip – it had less tourists, more cycling route options, and we could get really good food to fulfill our worked up appetites. There is pizza, burgers, tacos, and much more. You won’t be disappointed!
The Lake Tahoe destination ride was an experience of a lifetime! Despite some tough climbs, not once did I feel like I was suffering because I was encapsulated by the beauty around me.
In the future, I hope to plan more destination rides. I am especially interested in Carmel, California, Whitefish, Montana and Glacier National Park, so stay tuned!