Tour de Tahoe - Bike Big Blue

By: Carol Chaplin

Early September finds me less interested in my mountain bike and more intent on putting some mileage on the road bike in the 72-mile Lake Tahoe shoreline Tour de Tahoe – Bike Big Blue. Curtis Fong, of Bike the West, has been organizing this fall tradition for ten years, and participants include some of us locals who are altitude-conditioned and fairly experienced cyclists; first-time, bucket-list, pedal-preemies; and everything in between. A few years ago, Curtis partnered with the Junior Diabetes Foundation and now there are dedicated fundraisers out there, cranking for the cure.

What’s cool about the throng that heads out around 6:30AM, circumventing the Lake clockwise, is that you can’t help getting in a conversation with someone who has a reason and a passion and a cause, who is having the “best time ever” with their large support group, their small band of buds or their permanent partner.  It’s a social time and for most of us, it’s about finishing, having fun and feeling like that really cold beer in another 30 miles is well-deserved.

From the start at the Horizon Casino Resort in Stateline, it’s a flat ride out past Camp Richardson Resort, and then a doable short grind up to the first rest stop where you can join the millions (literally) before you who have taken that iconic, Kodak panoramic photograph overlooking Emerald Bay.

Emerald Bau on the Tour de Tahoe
Emerald Bay is one of Lake Tahoe’s most photographed and popular locations.

Tour de Tahoe
Jenn Boyd and Carol Chaplin pose at Inspiration Point overlooking Emerald Bay.

After Emerald Bay, it’s a fun, up-and-down roll to Homewood for some more energy and maybe a little longer break. Coming up to Tahoe City, the lake laps next to your tires before some welcome window shopping distraction. You’re now opposite from where you started a few hours ago as you head through town and towards Kings Beach, where lunch is waiting for you. Sit on the beach or on a bench and listen to where all these great gregarious folks are from, and take a few moments to stretch your back and neck before you head out.

The next section is deceivingly tough on you, as the climb out of Incline Bay to Spooner Summit is long and constant — not so steep, but constant.  There’s a small aid station in the middle, but I prefer to keep going — there have been a few times where a stop at this point might mean stopping at this point.

When you get to Spooner, grab some quick energy snacks, a chair massage opportunity and some bike mechanics that can smooth you out for the last downhill towards the Horizon and the end of the day.  It’s great to have the immediate descent, but take a deep breath at Cave Rock, knowing there are still a few short climbs through Zephyr Cove before you take that last left into the parking lot and the pool party you’ve earned.

An avid cyclist and mountain biker, Carol Chaplin is the Executive Director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. 

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