Lake Tahoe Prologue Free Day

| July 6, 2009 6:37 am
Lake Tahoe Prologue Free Day

by Paul Metz

Don and Barbara from the “Alameden Cycle Touring Club” want to do some climbing on the free day in Lake Tahoe on the Prologue.  They haven’t done much climbing on their tandem, and want to see how it would go.

We get up a bit early, hoping to leave by 8am to do the easy side of Kingsbury Grade, and return by 10am for Randall Braun’s ride to Echo Lake (echo lake).

We leave a little late, and I mention to Randall that I wasn’t sure we’d be back by 10am, and he suggests that we take Pioneer Trail, and meet up at HW 50/South Upper Truckee at 11, instead.  That sounds good, as none of us had ridden that.  He told me his route to the meeting place.

I lead the way, since I’d looked at the maps and had been in Tahoe before.  I picked the main roads, not knowing that road work was in progress.  Partway there, near the Y, the bike lane was closed, so we took over the slow lane.  We went a little farther, and the slow lane was also closed, so we took over the *only* lane in our direction.

We try to go fast, so as not to block traffic too much.  I think we were doing close to 20mph through there.  Although it was a bit stressful, I was happy to point out to Don and Barbara that no one had honked at us!  We made it into Nevada, and turned onto Kingsbury Grade.

Kingsbury Grade from the Tahoe side doesn’t climb much more than 1000′; the grade seems around 7% according to the gradiometer I bought for $3 off John Mazzella years ago.  Traffic wasn’t bad, but when I saw one HUGE truck climbing up, I got off the road and motioned Don and Barbara to do the same.

Signs at the top said this was a 9% grade!  The math doesn’t add up; 9% x 3 miles would 1800′. Perhaps there were some sections of 9%.

After some photos, we head back down and look for Pioneer Trail.  It came up quickly, so we ended up making a square turn.  It has a gentle grade and is quite pretty.  I got a photo of a bike route sign that had a typo and another mistake.  I started talking to a cyclist going our way.  He introduced himself as Rabbi Jonathon, and as we chatted, we realized we were both from New York, and that he went to my high school! (We didn’t meet there, he graduated 9 years later).
When we hit the downhill, the tandem left me in the dust using their LBS (pounds).  Part of me wanted to race to catch up, but then I decided to take a picture of the lupin, and take it easy.

We hit HW 50, and saw the bike path.  I try to ride over the dirt to get there, and almost fell over; the dirt was looser than I’d expected.  We walk to the path, and get to go a couple hundred feet along it before we’re off the path and in a bike lane on HW 50. Whoopee.

We arrive at the rendezvous a bit early, and Randall isn’t there.  We consider backtracking his route.  Don is short of water, and takes the tandem back to a gas station, while Barbara and I talk.  Randall shows up from a different direction!  He didn’t want to spoil the surprise of the next day’s riding, so he took a different route.  It all worked out.

We start up Meyers Road, and I hear people mention “Log Cabin”.  This is on the photo scavenger hunt list (a surprise idea from Connie)!  I ride off to the right near the lower gate to get a photo, and someone in the cabin comes out to tell me that this is where the Vikingsholm caretakers lived!  The cornicework was added as a tribute to Vikingsholm.  I use the ascent to take photos of a lot of the riders.  We had seen Vikingsholm from the dinner cruise last night.

Crossing HW 50 at the top of Meyers is not fun.  Cars come downhill fast, and there’s a turn so you can’t see as far uphill as you’d like.  As I am approaching the summit of Meyers, I hear someone getting honked at.  Someone took exception to Mike McGeough crossing HW 50.  It was suggested the people cross the road quickly, and ride the wrong way on the opposite shoulder.  Not legal, but safer.

Across 50, the road may have a different name, perhaps Echo Summit Road.  We get a history lesson from a man in suspenders; cargo was winched up to Echo Lake, and came down Myers Road into Tahoe.

At the store in Echo Lake, many of us chip in $5 (Randall’s idea), and we got bread, lunchmeat, mayonnaise, chips, vodka dip(!), etc. to share.  We ate at the picnic area that had been covered in snow a few weeks earlier.  Now, the ground was just squishy.  We sit on the benches, tabletops, and logs that were available.  Someone had spread mayonnaise on a slice of bread and left it, and I put my sleeve right in it!  The “bathrooms” there were of the cement portapotty type; no running water.  I rinsed the sleeve out in Echo Lake before seeing the sign about not contaminating the water.  Oops!  Well, it already had at least one Cheeto in it.  I saved one loaf of bread, and carried it back inside my jersey for use by the Prologue.  (Does this loaf make me look fat?)

As we get ready to go, I realized that in my rush to leave in the morning, I hadn’t put on any sunblock.  I borrow some to put on my nose, but I was quite pink for a day.

We return down Meyers to HW 50, and get to use a bit more of the bike path than on the way out.  We duck under the construction tape to make use of an almost-open Bikeed bridge just before Sawmill Road.  To get back “quickly”, most of us go over Tahoe Mountain Road.  The name should have been a  hint.  It had several hundred vertical feet of climb, perhaps at 10%.  Then the road changes names and zigzags before depositing us on Fallen Leaf Road.  We did this in the other direction the next day.

Two of the group take off for Fallen Leaf Lake (I think it was Vickie and Karin), which I understand is also quite pretty.  I want to get back to camp, so I lead the remaining riders down 1.5-lane-wide Fallen Leaf Road.  About 1 mile from camp, I could feel my rear tire going flat.  I’d had a rash of rear flats lately, which is one reason I didn’t try the loop into Nevada that Alison, Franz, and Anne went on.

We make it back to camp, and the little bike shop at the entrance has a 25C Michelin tire for $17, just a little wider than I usually use.  I replace the tire (which I finally notice is a bit worn), the tube, and just in case, I add some electrical tape over the rim tape (this puncture seems to be on the spoke side of the wheel).  It’s been two weeks now, and no rear flats!

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One Response to “Lake Tahoe Prologue Free Day”

Vickie wrote a comment on July 12, 2009

Paul, well done!!!

The Lake Tahoe Prologue was great fun, especially sharing it with you. And yes, we (Karin & I) did enjoy the beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake. We saw June & Steve there, too.

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