It’s not a race, it’s a fast ride
Whether you choose gear-grinding singletrack or high-speed road rides, biking in Tahoe-Truckee has never been easier.
Mountain biking and cycling retailers offer a number of intermediate to advanced rides that are open to the public and free of charge.
The rides are organized by shop owners and managers who enjoy sharing their knowledge and expertise. All are friendly, non-sponsored engagements designed for fun, improvement, exercise and networking with other riders.
However, some of these rides are difficult. The experience and ability level required varies depending on the shop and the ride. But, if you enjoy pushing your ability and are willing to improve, there may be no better way to get in shape than shop rides.
The following shop-organized rides are only some of the more popular, long-standing tours. There are many others with varying group sizes, rides and objectives. Call in advance for details.
The Paco’s Ride
At 6:15 every Wednesday evening about 15 to 30 cyclists take to Highway 89 from Truckee for a road tour.
The cyclists, organized by Paco’s Truckee Bike and Ski, are hard to miss. The brightly-colored jerseys and helmets stand out against the colors of the mountainside like a carnival exhibition, not to mention the group’s size. The two dozen or so cyclists are enough to hamper most mountain roads.
Fortunately, the stretch of Highway 89 from Truckee to Alpine Meadows, which the group rides each Wednesday evening, is large enough to accommodate a bike lane.
When Douglas “Paco” Lindsay and former United States Cycling Federation racer Margie LaPoint organized the group six years ago, the two were hoping to produce a high-pace ride that would help cyclists interested in racing hone their skills.
“There are a lot of organized rides in Sacramento,” LaPoint said, “but I was frustrated that there wasn’t something up here. A few of us who used to race wanted to do something, so we organized a small group of riders who enjoy fast pace riding.”
The cyclists ride in tight formation, two abreast in a double rotating line heading south from Truckee to Alpine Meadows road.
“People learn to ride close together,” Paco said. “Sometimes bike racers are inches apart and we just want people to get used to the dynamics of riding together.”
The band of cyclists make their way to Alpine Meadows road at a moderate pace, said Paco. The double rotating line splits apart and each rider proceeds to the top of the road at their own pace.
Then, the cyclists regroup and glide back to Hwy. 89. Once the group passes the signal light at Squaw Valley Road the sprint begins, and often the group forms a single file, rotating line reaching speeds up to 50 miles per hour.
“At that point groups will divide,” said Mark Nadell, who has been riding with Paco’s group for several years. “It really teaches you race technique. If you hang in the back on this and something happens you could get dropped pretty easily. I’m a strong rider, but I usually get dropped.”
LaPoint is one of five to eight women who ride on a weekly basis, but the women who do the Wednesday night ride, she said, are hard-core aggressive riders who can hold a pace and charge ahead.
“Paco’s wife and I started a Thursday night women’s ride to teach the different techniques of road riding. Most don’t want to try and learn in such a large group.” LaPoint said. “We have about four or five women showing up.”
For more information call Paco’s Truckee Bike and Ski at 587-5561.
The Backcountry rides
The Backcountry in Tahoe City and Truckee organizes a mountain bike ride on Monday at both stores and a road ride at their Truckee store on Tuesday. All the rides begin at approximately 6:15 p.m. in the store parking lots.
“We designed our road ride to fit with the Paco’s ride,” Truckee store manager John Svahn said. “Our ride is really casual. The point is to have fun.”
Svahn first organized the store ride three years ago. The turnout varies week to week and year to year, he said, but most of the riders are locals. The group generally rides somewhere near the store.
The band of bikers leave the Truckee store around 6:30 p.m. by bike, and ride one of two treks. They either ride north on Highway 89 up to Alder Creek Road and loop back via Northwoods, or they bike to Donner Summit and back on Donner Pass Road.
The Monday night mountain bike ride takes place at any number of locations around the Tahoe-Truckee area. Separate rides take place at both stores. The ability level required for the ride is intermediate to advanced.
“Our ride is more of a skills building ride – jumping over logs and that kind of stuff,” Scott Philips said of the Truckee store’s ride, “but it is getting easier. We have a loop that we do through Tahoe Donner where the trail is a little cleaner than it used to be.”
The J.P. Trail in Coldstream Canyon, the Lunchmeat trail in Martis Valley, Lloyd’s and the Old Emigrant Trail are all possibilities from the Truckee store.
“There are so many rides we can do from the Tahoe City store that we don’t get in the car – let me leave it at that,” Backcountry owner Mike Schwartz said of the Tahoe City store’s rides. “We will go for a ride wherever people want to go.”
Schwartz pointed out that the purpose of the mountain bike ride is to show avid mountain bikers where the good rides are, not to show beginners how to ride.
For more information about The Backcountry’s rides check out their web site at http://www.thebackcountry.net.
CyclePath/Sunnyside Club ride in Tahoe City
While membership is required for the CyclePath/Sunnyside road rides, CyclePaths Mountain Bike Adventures store owner Greg Forsyth said that membership is secondary.
“The ride is definitely open to the public. It doesn’t cost anything to come and participate. We’re not making any money on this thing. We’re just trying to put it together because there is no club out here.” he said.
The CyclePaths/Sunnyside club rides after work on Wednesday afternoon at 6 p.m. and on Sunday at 8 a.m. Riding to Truckee and back and occasionally up to Gold Lake from Sierraville are the most common rides with the club.
Forsyth said bikers from Sunnyside Resort were interested in organizing a group of cyclists in Tahoe City, and offered to contribute benefits if they could help.
“Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association (TAMBA) has really become a trail access organization, but there really hasn’t been an organized road ride in Tahoe City in a long time,” Forsyth said.
To become a member, riders need only buy a road biking jersey from CyclePaths Mountain Bike Adventures, which cost anywhere from $80 to $100. The benefits, said Forsythe, far exceed the cost.
“As a member you receive 40 percent off draft beer and wine at Sunnyside, 20 percent off on rentals and demos, 10 percent off on service and repairs, a schedule of club events, and group rides and monthly banquets with guest speakers and free raffles,” he said.
The road rides with the club are intermediate to advanced. For more information call CyclePaths Mountain Bike Adventures at 581-1171.
Granite Chief road ride
Norma Jean Bowers is the cycling brainchild behind Wednesday’s all-day road ride organized by Truckee’s Granite Chief. Bowers organizes the ride every Wednesday to keep she and her friends on their bikes on a regular basis.
“The ride started with me calling a bunch of people, and that’s pretty much how it works,” Bowers said. “I’ve got a list of names and numbers going.”
The distinguishing characteristic of the Granite Chief ride is that it is an all-day affair. Bowers and others decide on a ride, assess the ride’s difficulty, and call their list of riders to describe the relevant requirements.
“I call everybody to let them know where we’re going, but certainly the rides aren’t for everyone. Next week we’re hoping to do a 100-mile ride,” she said.
Often times the group will ride to Jackson Meadows, around Lake Tahoe, the various versions near Gold Lake and the Highway 267 loop, which Bowers calls the “Truckee Triangle.”
“The Truckee Triangle starts by heading south on Hwy 89 to Tahoe City, and then we loop around to Kings Beach. Then we head North on Hwy. 267 back to Truckee,” Bowers explained.
The Chief has been organizing the ride since April. The organization is by staff volunteers, all the rides are non-sponsored and open to the public.
“Our rides are casual, but there are different levels of ability required. The best thing to do is to call a day or two in advance to find out what we’re planning to do each week,” Bowers said.
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The Truckee girls’ cross-country team raced to a runner-up finish at today’s Class 3A Northern League championships.