The evening after the half marathon, there was check-in, dinner and an informational meeting for the Sierra to the Sea ride. Clay and I got there, picked up our shirts and packets and sat at a table with 5 or 6 other guys. We discovered that the clientele on the tour was us…. guys (and gals) in their 50s and 60s – some older – few younger…. I was expecting everyone to look like Clay – thin and fit, Tour De France capable…. But, no most were at least as ‘heavy’ as me…. Even though I had only 3 training rides all year…. I felt there was a good chance I would be able to keep up. The dinner and the conversation was excellent.
Sunday Morning, Clay and I woke up early, got our bikes ready to go, transported our duffel bags to the tour group and then we started our ride! Most of the group had camped there at Lake Tahoe, but Clay and I…. and his family… we had a nice little cabin just down the road! Anyway, we got our gear to the campground and then we started our ride.
Day 1 was not scheduled to be the longest, but it was scheduled to be the toughest…. at least if you did the optional side trip. In total we went over 4 passes – one heading south out of Tahoe, then an optional pass heading over to Blue Lake, and then BACK over it, and then the infamous Carson Pass heading to our campground.
On our way up the first we spend quite a few miles on this very pretty, steep narrow road, before topping off at the pass.
We had a really fun, really fast several mile descent and then we made our way to the first rest stop. From here we headed out on the optional 12 mile out and back to Blue Lake. I naively assumed that nearly everyone would do this… but probably 30 or 40 out of the 130 riders did it. The scenery on the way out and back was beautiful. We had a little fun checking out the lake and then we headed back. We stopped at the pass on the way back for some pics of the view…. It started hailing! We headed down the mountain, the road was dry, so the traction was good, so we were moving fast…. but hail was stinging our faces! Then road started turning white and we slowed down… after a short while the hail stopped and we had dry downhill to enjoy!
After our enjoyable cruise back to the rest stop it was time to head west on the highway over Carson pass. As soon as we made the turn the climb began. It was about 6.5 miles to the top. The last four were very steep. I was in my bottom gear, occasionally standing, mashing the pedals with just about all the effort I had. Strava analysis says we averaged 5.4 mph for the hill so it must have taken 35 – 40 minutes of sheer effort… Clay, could of course done it faster, but he hung with me. There was an awesome view pullout near the stop and we (especially I) enjoyed the break.
From here it was just another few minutes over the pass and then downhill – with a couple more significant climbs …. to our campground at Silver Lake.
So, 68 miles and 5913 feet of climbing after leaving Tahoe… we had completed our first ride. This was my 4th longest bike ride ever and is my new personal record for elevation climbed in a day.
The camp had a bunch of little cabins. Clay and I got one to ourselves. Dinner was great, It was very cold so everyone hung out around a big camp fire afterwards…. It was an awesome first day….