Encircling Big Blue

“Dude, the water looks so clear, its like we are in the Caribbean!”. Only one of the many moments of observation of natural beauty when going around the largest alpine lake in North America.

We had set the alarm clocks for 6:30am, with the intention to be the first ones at the complimentary breakfast and then embarking on our adventure. Considering we stayed at a rather cheap motel close to the California/Nevada state line, I was not expecting much, but a (styrofoam) bowl of cereal, a cup of orange juice and a banana would have had to suffice. And so, at 7:37am, we started into the fresh morning air and with the circumvention of Big Blue.

Tires roll

“Definitely cold!”, my friend Ethan noted and yes, compared to the night before, when we had arrived at Lake Tahoe, temperatures had dropped significantly and showed about 45 Fahrenheit by 7am. But preparation is everything, and prepared we were with windbreakers and mittens. The forecast for Saturday had not looked that promising initially, but we started with partly cloudy skies literally no wind. The 20% chance of precipitation were just too low to take serious, we decided.

About 20 minutes into the ride, we took a right turn, leaving Hwy 50 behind us and making our way towards Emerald Bay, the first of two significant climbs along the route, as I had meticulously noted on my to-scale map/sketch of the route. Halfway between the turning point and Emerald Bay, we got overtaken by a fellow cyclists, who greeted us with a brisk but collegial “Morning!” between bikers. All dressed in Lance Armstrongs LIVESTRONG gear from head to toe and quadriceps the size probably comparable to Lance’s, he passed us with seemingly no effort. However, he turned around and went back the other way shortly after and so we were on our own heading up and then down to Emerald Bay, only to have to climb back up again for the descent towards Meeks Bay. By that time, we had already gotten rid of all the other layers that we had put on and were just riding in shorts and short-sleeved jerseys.

Cruising along

Apart from a little climb at the Rubicon Park Estates, the road was now relatively flat and we were cruising along Hwy 89. Then the first beach view at Chambers Landing, an invitation we decided to postpone until after the ride and time for a little break. 2 hours and 20 minutes and 52 km (32 miles) into the ride, we arrived at the junction of Hwy 89 and 28, where we watched water flowing out of the lake at its only outlet at the Lake Tahoe Dam. Being on the road for 2 hours and 45 minutes and pretty much halfway around the lake, we took a well-deserved lunch break on a pebble beach at Carnelian Bay. While we indulged ourselves on Clif Bars, Gatorade and GU Energy Gels, we enjoyed beautiful vistas of the lake, in almost spotless sunny skies, while people were out paddle boarding or playing with their dogs on the beach. “Holy cow, we are lucky with the weather so far”, I commented on our pretty fortunate situation at this moment.

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