Tahoe cyclists pedal the Basin this week | SierraSun.com

Tahoe cyclists pedal the Basin this week

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunTorrie Goldstone, 8, parks her bike at Tahoe Lake School Monday morning before class. Students rode their bikes to school as part of TRPA's Bike-to-work Week.

Instead of dropping their kids off at the bus stop, a growing group of Tahoe Lake Elementary families are riding with their kids to school on bikes.

“It helps global warming and it’s fun,” said Keegan Wells, 8, a third-grader at Tahoe Lake Elementary. “And in the morning, it really wakes you up.”

Keegan Wells rides her bike nearly every morning to school with her older sister Madison and her mom and dad, Nancy and Mike Wells. And the Wells aren’t the only bike-riding family seen lately on the bike paths before school.

Students are riding their bikes from the West Shore, Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. Last week, some 30 bicycles were seen pedaling through Tahoe City to the local elementary school, said Mike Wells.

“It’s like a great way to exercise,” said Madison Wells, 10, who is in the fourth grade at Tahoe Lake Elementary.

Piper Joubert, 8, said she rides her bike to school to save gas. Jane Nall, 7, said she rides her bike because its fun and it’s better for the environment. Joubert and Nall, accompanied by their moms, met up with the Wells in Tahoe City Monday morning on their commute.

“It’s kind of like recess before school,” said Nancy Wells.

Tahoe Lake Elementary families began pedaling for their own cause, but this week also marks the national bike-to-work week, sponsored locally by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition.

More than 480 bicyclists in the Basin are registered to ride a targeted 14,000 miles this week “-a goal that’s double the miles logged last year.

And some 140 of this year’s cyclists are from the North Shore, with more still signing up, according to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

“It was a little cool this morning, but the good news is it’s supposed to be a warming trend, starting tomorrow,” said Ty Polastri, president of the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition. “So that’s going to encourage more cyclists.”

Polastri encouraged all bicyclists to register for Bike-to-Work Week at the coalition’s Web site so officials can capture just how many people in the Tahoe Basin are committed to getting out of their cars and onto their bikes. More than $3,000 worth of prizes are being raffled off daily for bicyclists who register in the event.

The heavy turnout for this week’s biking extravaganza is just one snapshot of Tahoe’s growing bike scene. Progress is being made towards bike paths on the North Shore and the East Shore, Polastri noted, stating that he envisions Tahoe as a world-class destination for biking.

“For over 125 years, cycling has been the cross-training for skiers around the world,” Polastri said. “And so what I see, since we’re such a ski-centric destination, what I’m hoping for is that we can convert all those ski visitors to start becoming bike visitors.”

Mike Wells, a local Certified Public Accountant, said he rides his bike to work daily as soon as the snow melts.

“I’m a regular bike commuter as soon as the roads are clear,” he said.

Passing the tradition down, the Wells started pedaling with their kids to school from their Tahoe Woods home last year, when Keegan and Madison attended the charter school on the West Shore.

This year, the Wells picked their bikes up at the end of April and have since been riding to their neighborhood school as much as possible, as well as on the weekends to events at Squaw Valley.

Once friends saw the Wells family sporting helmets and bike gear at the Tahoe Lake Elementary parking lot, they joined in, Nancy Wells said. The bike-to-school movement snowballed from there.

“It’s always bike to work week for us,” Nancy Wells said.

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