Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tour De Tahoe - The Full Story

What an amazing experience. What an amazing weekend. 

Saturday I was leading over 40 Porsche automobiles along beautiful Sierra roads from Squaw Valley to Nevada City and then on Sunday riding my 1998 Porsche Bike S all the way around Lake Tahoe.

An all Porsche weekend for sure.

The ride started Sunday morning at the Hard Rock Hotel in South Lake Tahoe. So, immediately following the Saturday Squaw to Nevada City tour, I drove to South Lake to a hotel room near the start/finish line. 6:00am Sunday I was up and heading to the start line.

The Tour De Tahoe is an annual 72 mile ride around Lake Tahoe. This year the event fell on September 11. So this year's theme was remembering the 911 tragedy. 

The ride kicked off at 6:30am after a remembrance of the people that lost their lives on 911. Sad moment, but I'm glad people still remember.

Around 1,500 riders participated this year, I'm told. I took off in the second wave of riders. They space them out intentionally to avoid a log-jam of bikes on the road. Even with spacing the first few miles was tight with bikes and riders. Riding through South Lake Tahoe in the early morning is a smart start to the ride - traffic and congestion is much lighter. The ride always travels clockwise, allowing the riders the maximum Tahoe views from the right side of the road.

The first miles were nice and flat before heading north into the west side of Tahoe. The steep climbs up toward Emerald Bay was challenging, but what amazing views awaited riders!

The first rest stop was at the Emerald Bay overlook after 14 miles of riding. Too short for the need for food, so I just dropped off my cool weather clothes and continued on.

Still early morning, traffic was still low while riding north along the west side. The mix of steep up hill and fast descents finally gave way to relatively flat roads that traveled right along the lake.  Again great views!

Reaching Tahoe City after 33 miles of riding, I grabbed some snacks at the second rest stop. A banana and an energy bar and I was back on the road heading to Kings Beach on the north end of Tahoe.

About half way around the lake, my legs felt good and my Porsche Bike S was performing perfectly. I was gaining confidence that I could not only complete my most challenging ride to date, but I felt like I could ride it faster than I ever imagined.

My 18 year old bike isn't the latest and greatest technology. It is heavier than current ultra light carbon fiber road bikes and my 26" wheels are much smaller than the current 29" wheels. I was at a serious disadvantage. Yet, my determination and summer-long training effort provided me with an edge over many of the other riders - many coming from the Bay Area and Sacramento.

After a fast lunch stop in Kings Beach, I powered on through the fourth and fifth rest areas without stopping. I had enough water and fuel to make the 72 miles without another stop. This saved time and my bike speed downhill helped me passed many other riders.

Riding through Incline was a blast. The beautiful and massive lakefront homes were quite a sight. The ascent up to Spooner Summit had the best Lake Tahoe views of the entire ride.

Once at Spooner Summit the very steep and very fast downhill back to South Lake Tahoe began. I was over 40 miles per hour for several miles. This helped with my mile per hour average - considering the steep uphill to Spooner was so slow.

I had a couple Yellowjackets bounce off me on the fast downhill. I closed my mouth and breathed through my nose to avoid eating one.  These wasps are everywhere around the region right now. 

Riding back into South Lake Tahoe and the finish line I still felt strong and thought I could keep going, which is good considering I have a 100-mile ride in a couple more weeks.

Crossing the finish line at the Hard Rock Hotel I was handed a finisher's medal. I grabbed some water and looked at my time - 72 miles in almost 5 hours exactly. I noticed there weren't a lot of people around. I completed the trip around the lake and finished in the top 10-20 percent of the 1,500 riders.

Even though my bike and I performed better than I imagined over this mountainous region, the best part of the ride was definitely the views. Lake Tahoe is amazingly beautiful.  I would recommend this ride to anyone looking for a serious challenge with great scenery.

Will I do the Tour De Tahoe again next year? Heck yes!

Footnote: After scouring the internet for hours on end, I believe my Tour De Tahoe ride is the longest distance anyone has ridden a Porsche Bike S. A new world record I'll claim!

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