Race Report: America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride

Okay, so I wouldn’t really call this a race, it is more like an event!  But either way, the first weekend in June, as part of Team in Training, Mason and I participated in the 100 mile route of America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, an aptly named ride around Lake Tahoe on the California and Nevada border.  Since this isn’t your typical race, my report format will be a little different than my past reports, but here is all the info you will need if you plan on participating in this wonderful event:

About the Ride:

  1. There is a 72 mile route that just goes clockwise around the lake, and then there is another 100 mile route that goes around the lake and does an out and back through historic Truckee, CA.  We did the 100 mile, so that is what this post will be referencing.
  2. This event takes place at Lake Tahoe, which FYI is at an elevation of about 6000 feet.  Now, physiologically, elevation shouldn’t start bothering you until around 7000 feet, which is about what the top of the climbs of this ride sit at.  However, if you are not a conditioned athlete, you can start to feel the effects as low as 4000 feet.  For this reason, I would not recommend this ride for a beginning cyclist.
  3. There are 2000+ extra people in Tahoe this weekend, so I definitely recommend getting in Friday instead of Saturday.  Two benefits to this are: first you get to beat the traffic, AND you also get a day to hydrate and prepare your body for the elevation if you aren’t used to it.  My husband and I live at sea level, so we had mild headaches the first day, just from dehydration.  You want to be well hydrated for this elevation.
  4. ALSO keep in mind that that is 2000+ people at roll-out in the morning!  We rode with some AMBBR veterans and rolled out a little early, ahead of the crowd.  We missed the start line excitement yes, but we also got to head out at a normal pace.  I recommend studying the route and doing the same.
  5. Piggy-backing off of bullet 2, this ride has quite a bit of climbing, with about a total of 4800 feet of elevation gain over the course of the ride.  The first “big” climb is up to the Emerald Bay scenic overlook, and is about 800 feet.  Its about a 2 mile climb starting at mile 11.  If you are a climber or are exposed to some climbing, I would say this is not a hard climb.  I never had to get out of the saddle, I just spun right on up it.  If you are a flatlander, another reason to get some hills on your legs.
  6. There are well stocked aid stations every 20 miles or so.  They have fruit and snacks and beverages and the nicest volunteers!  I stuffed so much nutrition in my pockets before the ride and I hardly ate any of it because there was so much support offered on the course.  You’ll find your first aid station at the top of the Emerald Bay climb.
  7. After this climb, its pretty much easy downhill for 20-30 miles.  If you are pace-lining, then you will be flying!  You won’t start going uphill again until about halfway, and it will be more of a headwindy false flat, so your pace team will want to make quick rotations.
  8. At mile 70, you get lunch.  And its a legit lunch.  Sandwiches, brownies, chips… definitely fill up because you have 30 miles left, and its going to be mostly uphill.
  9. Right out of lunch is a short but steep climb, and then its rolling until you hit around mile 80.  That starts the second big climb.  Again, I wouldn’t say this is a hard climb, its just long.  If you aren’t used to climbing, this will be challenging for you.  If you are used to climbing like we are, then it will feel like a long false flat.  Again, I never had to stand up for this climb.
  10. The last 12-15 miles are mostly downhill! Yay!  There are a couple rollers in the last 5 miles, but again if you are pace lining, you can use the momentum from the downhills to get over them.
  11. This ride ends at 98 miles.  Go ahead, be that OCD cyclist and ride around for 2 miles to hit 100 😉
  12. There is a huge expo when you finish, with shops selling last season cycling gear for royally good deals (Mason got a new jersey and bibs for 20 bucks, and they are good!).  Theres also lots of food and beer, so go ahead and get that first recovery meal, you earned it!

Other Logistics:

  1. Book your hotel SUPER in advance, and get a place that is close or biking distance to the start!  Parking is very limited in the town, so you won’t want to have to deal with that.  This is a major Team in Training event too, so many of the nearby hotels are already pre-booked for Team in Training participants.  There are lots of little lake houses you can probably AirBnB, and lots of nice hotels to stay in town.  The race starts on the California/Nevada border, and you might want to stay on the California side, as the hotels are a little quieter.  Here is why: gambling is legal in Nevada and not California.  So most of the hotels on the Nevada side have casinos that are lit up and playing music all night, and allow smoking indoors.  Not exactly what you want right before a 100 mile bike ride.
  2. There is a really great bike shop in town that is well stocked and ready for this event!  We forgot to pack our bike pump and they had exactly what we needed.
  3. Weather is highly variable in Tahoe this time of year.  It was 48 degrees at roll-out, and then reached 78 degrees by lunch time.  Wear lots of layers, and they will have drop bags at the aid stations so you don’t have to carry them with you.
  4. Speaking of drop bags, they just put your number inside of them and leave them in a pile based on the aid station they got dropped at the finish.  It was very hard to find our bags.   If you feel like carrying it, bring some brightly colored duct tape, or something to make your bag stand out after you drop it.  This will make your life easier at the finish.
  5. Finally, as the race is on Sunday, don’t be us.  Don’t drive back home that night and go to work on Monday.  Take another day and enjoy Tahoe, as it is truly beautiful.

 

Pictures to come!  (they are on my other laptop)

Have you done America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride?  Are you doing it next year?  Have any questions that I didn’t cover?  Comment below!

happy riding,

-jules

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