Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Tahoe Classic: Mt. Rose to Mr. Toad's (Happy Anniversary!)

I'd read about this classic Tahoe ride for years. It was supposed to be tough due to altitude and technical difficulty; it was supposed to be very scenic traversing north to south on the east side of Lake Tahoe; and it was supposed to be fun covering many popular trails in the area such as the world famous Flume Trail, many segments of Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT), and in the end, a descent down Saxon Creek Trail, aka Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. After we found out that TAMBA was organizing this member only ride again, we joined and signed up. Yesterday, we completed the ride with our friend Patrick and had a great time. The ride proved to be everything that it had promised.

Patrick took some great photos that can be viewed in his photo album. And as usual, he put together an entertaining ride recap that is posted on MTBR. Mr. Mud had his camera with him and took mostly some random shots, which have been uploaded to our gallery photo album as well.

I also posted a very quick recap using my phone on the drive home.

Yes, showered (at KOA) and fed (by Bob Dog). Life is good, especially after an excellent ride like this. Among our small group, no mechanicals, and no injuries, so I call it perfect.

Felt altitude from the beginning, and was a heavy boat anchor for Mr Mudncrud and ratpick all the way to Stagecoach. But managed to catch a second wind and was able to hang most of the way after that. I tried to give myself a head start here and there, which worked out well. Well, for the most part anyway. The strategy robbed ratpick a chance for photos and a nap at Freel Pass because I rode on ahead. But I had to drop down because I felt I could barely draw breaths in that thin air. It might be in my head since it was only at 9700', but the group saw me stop right below the pass at a flat section gasping for air. (Thanks for the encouragement!)

10hr 21min total time. Always a good feeling to end a ride with plenty of daylight to spare.

We were booked in two hotel rooms last night mainly for the coffee. But I only got three hours of sleep (skeered :p). On a long drive home now, but I'm sleeping in tomorrow! Woohoo!

I'll just add a few random little things here that didn't have a place in the above recap:

– I wore my Bad Kitty socks that Mr. Mud bought me one Xmas. I always wear them on my big rides. They bring me good luck.

– Was devastated that, due to the early shuttle, we could not buy hot coffee anywhere in the morning. Ended up staying in a hotel the night before in Sacramento area just so we could get coffee from the room. Can you think of coffee anywhere that's more expensive than that? Unfortunately, despite the comfortable accommodation, I woke up after three hours and could not fall back to sleep before the alarm went off at 3:30am. Doing the ride at altitude with 3 hours of sleep was tough! Thankfully, the canned Starbucks double espresso at the market 36 miles into the ride saved the day for me.

– The night before after checking in at the hotel, we walked over to Chipotle for dinner, but ended up in Hooters across street. Not sure why I mention this.

– At the very first section of the ride down TRT, Mr. Mud casually tucked his camera into a pouch mounted on this bike, and it was jettisoned out on the fast and bumpy ride without him noticing until he reached the junction with Tunnel Creek Trail. Well, he got lucky — One of the riders who rode up found it, picked it up, and returned it to him. Here is Mr. Mud's hero, whom Mr. Mud gives a big thumb up.

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– Recently, I've had a problem when I carry my camelpack while riding — the pack always rubs a spot raw next to the spine through the jersey and it gets irritating. I've been trying to get rid of the pack if I can. On shorter rides, it's fairly simple. I have various pouches (one under saddle and two on top of the top tube) to carry essential bike repair gear and I have a bottle cage to take one 24-oz bottle — I don't drink much. But I knew that the setup would not be enough for this ride despite the two support stations — the last 26 miles (most climbing and hardest on the ride) will not have any guaranteed access to drinkable water. After pondering solutions for a while, I decided to try out Mountain Feed bags. Unlucky for me, I couldn't get them shipped in time for the ride, but lucky for me, our friend Dirk generously offered his. In the end, I managed to mount only one on the bar, with which I could fit my second water bottle. With all the weight distributed on the bike, the hike-a-bike sections were even more difficult because I had to constantly lift the heavy bike up and over obstacles, but my fragile back was happy. The day after the ride, I was mostly sore in my lats from the bike carrying.

– One featured climb on the ride goes from Star Lake to Freel Pass because it reaches the highest point on the ride at 9700' elevation. While Mr. Mud and Patrick were still taking a break at Star Lake, I set off to give myself a head start knowing that they would catch up with me on the climb and then the descent that follows. It was tough go when it got close to the pass. I even had to stop right below the pass to gasp for air while the crowd gathered above shouted encouragement at me. A normal thing for most people to do once having arrived at the pass after a great effort probably would have been ditching the bike (anywhere since it's soft sand anyway) and lie down (again anywhere) for a much deserved break, but I rode on by without a second of pause. At that moment, I had the hope that the bottom of the descent that followed would have thicker air, and also I really needed the head start before my two guys on the long descent. They caught up with me just when we were all rolling up to the Armstrong intersection. Patrick had disappointment written all over his face.  When Mud and he rode up to the pass together, Mud noticed that my bike was not there (for some reason, he recognizes bikes better than persons), so he knew I was gone. He started a pursuit right away. Patrick had been looking forward to the top of the grueling ascent for a nap and a view sucking photo session, but now he felt he had no choice but chasing Mud down. He didn't even get to stop to snap a single photo! He was robbed! Being a sport he is, he rode on as the best riding company one can hope for after promising me "public humiliation" for my robbery act. I've been waiting for it to come since…

– Needless to say, there were many insanely strong and fast riders on this ride. I was especially glad to see a number of women who showed up on the ride and quite a few finished the whole ride. I got a few QOMs on this ride, but knowing what the locals are capable of, I do not expect them to last long. I enjoyed the traversal of Flume Trail, the rolling descent from the Bench to Kingsbury, and the descent after Freel Pass, but the highlight of the day was still the descent down Mr Toads. As I emphasized to Mud and Patrick, we should ride safely because carnage is the biggest enemy on long rides. I did not hesitate in walking down the waterfall section. But after that, I was surprised at how much I rode through, especially the chunky sections that I knew I would normally be intimidated by. I first time understood why some people were so fond of this descent because I literally had a grin from ear to ear.

Okay, maybe above were not "little" things. Mud exclaimed I was writing a novel again when he walked by behind me. Well, they were just random thoughts about the ride that went through my mind.

P.S. Two days later, it dawned on me that the weekend was our anniversary weekend! It never crossed my mind over the weekend, and I'm pretty sure Mr. Mud forgot about it too. Ha, aren't we a good match! But is there a better way to celebrate the anniversary than finishing an awesome ride together? I think not!

Related and Non-related Links:

 

Closing shot — Victory! (courtesy of Patrick)

 

All the photos from Mud's camera. I wish he had taken more action shots of individual riders that are not blurry.

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Some photos from Ben, one of the ride organizers.

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Some photos from Patrick.

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2 Responses

  1. Jeanne waldmanon 03 Sep 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Another epic ride! Thanks for the write up.
    We rode in auburn this morning. Driving home now and so far no traffic! Crossing fingers.

    mudworm

    Thanks Jeanne! Glad to know that traffic was not bad for you. One of these days, I'd like to check out Auburn riding as well. At least it's a bit closer to Tahoe. But is there any place that can top the Tahoe riding experience? Already can't wait to go back!