Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tour de Tahoe (Part 2)

When last we met, I was discussing our ride down Millionaire Mile. Man those were nice houses.

Once through that neighborhood, however, it was back to the highway. Amazingly the narrow two lane highways we were on most of the day never seemed as nerve racking as I thought they would be. Apparently, having already passed 500 riders cars had figured that there would be more, were looking for us, and gave us plenty of room.

Soon we were riding by all the cars parked above Hidden Beach (Lake Tahoe's nude beach for those not familiar with the area). So focused were we on the goal at hand, however, that even if the Hooters swim team had come hiking up tho their cars in the buff we would just have continued on towards the finish line. OK, you're right, it would have been rude not to stop for at least a couple pictures... Not an issue at any rate, there was nothing to be seen but crystal clear waters, mountains that looked like they were cut out of the sky and awesome granite boulders

After that came Sand Harbor which looked pretty busy and then the climbing began in earnest which earned this leg of the ride the theme song, AC/DC's "Highway to Hell". It was almost Johnny Cash "Ring of Fire" but after Ken suggested Highway to Hell I came up with a perfect tie in to the next leg so Highway to Hell it was.

I'm sure you're wondering how any part of this beautiful ride could be given such a tortuous sounding theme song. Let me explain. First, remember we're over 50 miles into the ride at this point. Regardless of how beautiful the route the legs are starting to tire. Second, at this point we started the LONG climb up Spooner Summit. Spooner is over 1000 vertical feet of climbing. Third, because of the time of day and the direction we were headed (south)the sun was beating directly down at us and there was very little shad despite the tall trees growing to either side of the road.

Ken had indicated that the next stop was at the top of this climb so I kept a mantra going in my head, "Just make it to the rest stop, make it to the rest stop, all down hill after the rest stop..." Of course, Ken rode on ahead to find a tree that looked like it was need of irrigation leaving me to contemplate the meaning of life and the chances this hill had no end. To say this hill was a grind was an understatement. Not only that but I kept passing and being passed by the same people. I'd pass them and a few minutes later they'd pass me, and then I'd pass them. Time seemed to stop and the only thing that still existed was the heat and the pain in my legs. But if I could just make the rest stop...

And then there it was, the shining city on the hill. Bikes were pulling off into the most beautiful oasis I had ever seen. Yes, it was just a pullout with a few tables setup but to me it was like seeing the rescue helicopter having been adrift in the ocean for weeks. I had made it! We were there! And then it happened... Ken walked up and said "Hey, how you doing, only a few more MILES to the top. Exsqueeze Me? It sounded like you said a few more MILES to the top. Red lights flashed in front of my eyes, voices in my head urged me to find the nearest large rock and bash Ken in the head repeatedly.

Luckily, more rational voices won out and I think I said something like "Oh, really, I thought you said the rest area was at THE FRIGGIN TOP OF THE HILL". At which point Ken informed me this was a new rest area they didn't have last year. Good thing I didn't listen to those voices... Anyhow, the rest area did do me some good. I downed generous quantities of liquid and felt a lot better and ready to push on.

Here's a few pics from that mid-climb rest area:

Here's the bottles of water I finished off while at this rest stop! :-)

After that it wasn't that bad a push to get up to the summit where another rest stop awaited.

At the summit some were saying it was all downhill from there. Ken urged me not to believe it as there were some more shorter uphill sections left. Having been up at Tahoe a couple days before when my wife, son, and I did a boat tour on the MS Dixie I already knew it was somewhat rolling from the bottom of Spooner back to stateline.

And so we pushed off, headed down the south side of Spooner Summit. The first few miles were a relatively steep downgrade with nice wide turns making for one smoking descent. The theme song for this section of the ride was Meatloaf's "Bat Out of Hell" (get it, Highway to Hell followed by Bat OUT of Hell?). Man was that a fun descent. The air was blowing past my face so fast my eyes were tearing like crazy and it felt like we were practically falling into the lake below us. It was sweet!

After the screaming descent it was a quick succession of ups and downs back to Stateline and the finish line at the HoHo. The one highlight was Cave Rock. At Cave Rock the highway goes through a tunnel drilled into this giant granite outcropping. Here's a picture:

As we approached the tunnel Ken called out "Make sure you honk your horn as you go through". So, there we were, riding through the tunnel, me calling out a low "HOOOONNNNKKK" while Ken chose a higher pitched "BEEEEEPPPPPP". It's the simple things that amuse us the most!

At the finish line, we rode under the FINISH arch together, then got out the camera and got pictures of each of us riding under the finish arch separately. It was an incredible ride, one that reminds you why you ride a bike in the first place. I've driven around Lake Tahoe dozens of times in my life and always been impressed but it just doesn't compare to having biked around it. And to cross the finish line with as good a friend as Ken, makes it even better.

Next ride - The Maywood Earth Century this Saturday. Updates to follow. Until then, Ride On!


Craigers said...

Looks like you guys had a blast. This ride seems to be challenging, but extremely rewarding too! See you at Earth Ride.

Jonny K said...

Congratulations on the finish, Chris. See you this weekend.