‘Most Beautiful’ ride lives up to its title
Bicycle tires hummed around the lake Sunday with more than 2,000 riders entered in the ninth annual America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride around Lake Tahoe.Riders had the option of biking 40, 72 or 100 miles. The loop around the lake is 72 miles, but less experienced riders had the option to start at Tahoe City and ride 40 miles to the finish line at Horizon Casino Resort.For better conditioned riders, the 100-mile route included an “out-and-back” onto State Route 89.”I finished in under six hours,” said Michael O’ Connor, a 36-year-old computer software salesman from San Francisco who rode 100 miles. “It was absolutely beautiful – spectacular. With the scenic surroundings there’s nowhere else in the world that can give you a thrilling bike ride like that.”Of the 2,000 entrants in the bike ride, more than 1,100 were affiliated with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America.Pam Gill, Team-in-Training Campaign Director for the San Jose branch, said she expected most of the riders in her group, three of whom have leukemia, would finish by 6 p.m.”This weekend we raised four million bucks,” she said. “It goes to funding research as well as patient service programs. This is the biggest group the we’ve brought yet. Seventy five cents of every dollar goes to research.”James English, a 26-year-old graduate of the University of Nevada, was the first person to finish the 100-mile loop. He did it in four hours and 11 minutes.”I was trying to do it in less than four hours so I was a little disappointed,” he said. “We lucked out with the weather, there was no wind. Last year I started later so it was a lot warmer. Starting at the Horizon helped out. Last year we started by climbing Round Hill.”English started riding at 6 a.m., but that wasn’t the case for all the riders.Dick Klein, a retired doctor who sells real estate, hit the trail at 10 a.m. Klein said he rode 36 miles from Tahoe City to the Horizon Casino Resort.”I’m just taking my time,” he said. “I’m going to be 68 next month so I wanted to ride around the lake before my birthday. I have a mountain bike. I shouldn’t be doing that, I’m the only guy I saw with fat tires.”Laura Bates, 33-year-old from Campbell, Calif., who sells pharmaceuticals, came out to ride in part for her grandmother who has leukemia. She biked for seven and a half hours before she completed the 100-mile loop.As a member of Team-in-Training, Bates said she wanted to raise money for leukemia, but she also enjoyed herself. “The temperature was perfect and Lake Tahoe is just gorgeous,” she said. “It’ll be nice once all the bike lanes are in. The vehicles around the lake were all supportive. There weren’t too many jerks out there.”Sunday’s beautiful weather was also on the mind of Cheryl Fong, a co-organizer of the bike ride. “It’s just like this every year – it’s hectic, but it’s fun,” she said. “We’ve been doing this nine or 10 years and it’s the best weather we’ve had in years. We’re blessed that’s it’s not raining and snowing. I think that helps everyone’s spirit, too.”Sunday afternoon, Melissa Sotelo, a 16 year old from Sacramento, gripped a video camera in one hand outside Horizon Casino Resort and waited for her mother to complete her first official 100-mile bike ride.”I’m proud of her,” she said. “I just want to get the look on her face.”
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