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Archive for the ‘Mountain Biking’ Category

Thin Tahoe Winter Provides Us With Multi-Sport Paradise

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

TMS Ambassador Mike Tebbutt outlines all there is to do and be active in Tahoe during another low-snow winter. The following is his report on this re-imagined winter pastimes. Follow Mike on Instagram at @irontebby

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On top of Mt Baldy with Donner Party Mountain Runners for some off-trail running.

As I wrote this, Tahoe and Truckee were getting some much deserved snow!

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed with the lack of snowfall this winter, and scared for what this means for all of California as we are forced to fully embrace this severe drought we are in. However, the Lake Tahoe/Truckee region always provides us with the goods by which to enjoy this world-class destination. And in my 26 years of living in the area, I have seen many drought years that leave the “experts” telling you it will take several years of big winters to bring the Lake back up to capacity, only to have them contradicted by one winter with the HUGE precipitation that the Sierras are so famous for.

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Skiing at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe with my wife, Liz

This year has been an exceptional winter in that we have been able to enjoy Mt. Biking, Hiking and Trail Running all winter on the trails down low and still get some great skiing in up high. With these unique conditions, I have made it a point on several occasions to get in multi-sport days, even a couple of what I like to call “Tahoe Triathlons”. These triathlons consist of heading out early with my dog, Loosey, for a run on frozen dirt trails before the lifts open, then making my way up to Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe (which has been surprisingly good ALL winter) after breakfast for a few hours of skiing, then coming home to take Loosey out for round two and some quality “brown pow” mountain biking. I have also enjoyed some great off-piste running on the firm snow up high, as well as a handful of lift served and backcountry powder days.

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Stormy backcountry skiing with Sam Skrocke and Loosey on Mt Rose

I’ve seen many others taking advantage of the warm and calm days out on Tahoe and Donner lakes stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking, even a few brave swimmers. Others have also enjoyed some epic surf and kite surfing conditions this winter with the couple big storms that packed strong winds along with the snow.

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Mt Biking the February “brown pow”

I know we are all dreaming of bluebird and waist deep powder days, but until Mother Nature decides to bless us with those conditions, life is always good in Tahoe! While it hasn’t be waist deep this winter, we’ve still been having fun!

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Pond ice skating in Tahoe Vista!

Mountain Biking Mount Rose Meadows to Chimney Beach

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

WHO: Lis and 9 friends

WHAT: mountain biking

WHERE: Tahoe’s East Shore, from Mt. Rose Meadows to Chimney Beach

WHEN: October 16, 2011

GEAR: SmartWool PhD socks, polarized sunglasses

Oh man, I can’t get enough of this ride! Mountain biking from Mount Rose Meadows off Highway 431 to Chimney Beach is definitely my current obsession, and the trails are prime right now. With sun in the sky but moisture in the soil from the past few weeks’ snow and rain, it doesn’t get much better for mountain biking in Tahoe. The Chimney Beach downhill can get pretty sandy and loose, so it’s a treat to catch it in this condition.

You’ll need to prep for this ride with some shuttle drops. We managed to make it happen with 10 people (yeah, we were a big crew!) and one car at the bottom of the Chimney Beach downhill (two folks hitchhiked back up, and two cars had to return back to pick up the other riders).

The best map of the ride I found was from Here’s the full Mount Rose Meadows to Chimney Beach map, with other options also highlighted. As you can see there are loads of ways to do this. I’ve taken the Flume (which is a must-do) but recommend the Tahoe Rim Trail to Marlette Peak route (which we took on this trip) for an extra cardio kick and to bypass the Flume crowds on weekends. I’ve zoomed in on a few key sections below so you can really get a view of the important turns.

Here’s the starting point off Highway 431, Mt Rose Highway (start on the trail on the east side of the highway, just to the meadow’s right, and take the trail that looks like it leads left):


Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic – Stage 2 dispatch

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

In this Adventure of the Week, we get an exclusive dispatch from photographer Vince M. Camiolo, who’s in State College covering the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic, Pennsylvania mountain biking at its most hard core. Enjoy!

WHO: Vince M. Camiolo

WHAT: the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic

WHERE: State College, Pennsylvania

WHEN: May 29 to June 4, 2011

GEAR: Reef board shorts for creek-soaking, bike gear in case I can steal a ride in between or after shooting

Hello from mountain bike fantasy sleep-away camp.

Only in its second year, the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic is already a must-do on many top pro endurance mountain bikers’ calendars and graces the wish lists of others. And although the word “epic” seems to have infiltrated the pop culture vernacular, stripping it of all authentic meaning — like “amazing” or “ironic” — this stage race embodies the original definition, challenging racers with seven days of punishing Central Pennsylvania trails. More than half the days have racers pedaling up and down the notoriously technical trails for between 38 and 47 miles.

This year Mother Nature has upped the ante with mid-July-like heat and humidity, testing these athletes’ claims of masochism (case in point: Racer Rebecca Rusch, arguably one of the greatest female endurance athletes in the world, embraces the moniker “The Queen of Pain”).

The race may attract big names and boast big ambitions, but it is glaringly grassroots (for you West Coasters think the Downieville Classic, but a week long). Organizers/promoters, locals Mike Kuhn and Ray Adams, have their hands (and bull-horn assisted voices) in every going-on during the week. In fact, this event serves as the biggest fundraiser of the year for their Outdoor Experience Organization, whose mission is to build, improve upon and document forest trails in the state of Pennsylvania (again, not unlike the Downieville Classic).

The coolest thing about this event is that five of the seven stages begin and end at the Seven Mountains Scout Camp, a sprawling mountaintop camp that includes a full dining hall for racers (and support staff/family) and accommodations ranging from private cabins to dormitory-style lodges, RV parking to tent camping. Add to that a picturesque pond for swimming and fishing, a bathhouse, swimming pool and post-race cold-water muscle soothing courtesy of a brisk stream… this event is nothing less than a mountain bike fantasy sleep-away camp.

But I’m just here to shoot.

And what I do can be anguishingly difficult. Not because of the two sleepless nights nursing an ailing laptop back to health prior to my four-hour drive to get here. It’s not the lugging of several bags of heavy camera gear over root- and rock-ridden trails in order to find the ideal location from which to shoot (and then another, and so on). It’s not even the thought of my beer getting increasingly warmer in the greenhouse that is my car with every second that passes (incidentally, I drink the good stuff, so ice cold isn’t necessary or even preferred). The anguishingly difficult thing about what I do is being so close to people doing what I love to do when I can’t do it myself. My consolation, however, is that the only thing that rivals my passion for mountain biking (and other outdoor pursuits) is documenting others’ passions for it.

After all, it’s the documentation of my passions that often gets me through a day stuck in the office, or motivates me to get some dirt under my tires during a lazy spell. If my work can provide that to someone else, that’s all the motivation I need to leave the bike — or climbing shoes, etc. — in the garage in exchange for a camera, notebook and pen.

*Note to editors and other content-purchasers: Please don’t read too much into that final statement. I still like to pay my rent.

The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk (or hike, surf, climb or Pennsylvania mountain bike) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

The Great Escape: Auburn Mountain Biking + Sugarloaf Climbing

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

WHO: Lis, Chris and friends

WHAT: A weekend of no snow

WHERE: Auburn and Sugarloaf

WHEN: April 30 and May 1

GEAR: Deuter Trans Alpine backpack (about as small as I can go for a day’s worth of cragging, sans any trad gear since the others carried it in), Black Diamond climbing gear, the padded bike shorts I wish I’d brought

As is evidenced by my posts on this blog, I like snow. But after more than 700 inches this winter, I had to get out!! Chris and I decided to spend the weekend in as close yet as warm of places as possible, so we chose Auburn and Sugarloaf for our getaways. Looking to do the same? Here’s the quick guide to ditching snow for sun during spring in Tahoe:

SATURDAY: Auburn, mountain biking the Foresthill Divide Loop Trail + Connector

This was my first time mountain biking in Auburn and it was awesome! Great early season riding since the trails are so smooth and roll-y. We took the connector (4 miles one-way) into the Foresthill Divide Loop (11.3 miles) to add a little more length to the ride. It was the perfect amount of cardio and nothing too technical, so it was great for easing back into riding. Though I learned one important thing: don’t forget your padded bike shorts on the first ride of the season. Ouch! The trail is super popular so it was a bit crowded on our way in via the connector. I actually think we timed it well (leaving Tahoe at 9am) since our second half of the ride was less crowded.

SUNDAY: Sugarloaf, rock climbing

Sugarloaf, a bit farther than Lover’s Leap, is only a short 30-minute drive from South Lake Tahoe yet feels far away in climate. There are various aspects to climb here so you can essentially be in the sun all day if you want. The main Sugarloaf formation is beautiful, as pictured above, with Chris on Captain Fingers (5.12c). It’s a great spot for a crag dog too (as modeled below by Fern) but watch out for ticks. None this time, but she came home with a few after our last trip here.

The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk (or hike, surf, climb, bike) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

Sea Otter Classic 2011

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

While we hung out in the never-ending Tahoe snow last weekend, TMS friend Brit Crezee took a trip down to the Sea Otter Classic and wrote up this report for us – thanks Brit!

WHO: Brit Crezee

WHAT: Sea Otter Classic

WHERE: Monterey, California

WHEN: April 15–17, 2011

GEAR: Reef flip flops and of course Gromeez T-shirts for our two groms to sport

Last Friday I waved goodbye to Truckee and the six feet of snow in the yard and headed south for the Sea Otter Classic at Lugana Seca Raceway. After a 700-inch winter, Monterey sunshine was a welcome treat.

As the ski and bike worlds are a bit incestual by nature, it was no surprise to see so many Tahoe folks representing as competitors, vendors and Joe Shmoes (like me) who just needed a break from winter. Local nonprofit Biking for a Better World snagged this video (edited by the fabulous Emily Turner) so be sure to check it out. You don’t want to miss the sick action!

Every year, Sea Otter kicks off the West Coast riding scene with a four-day cornucopia of all things bike. The event has something on tap for everyone from roadies and downhillers to dirt jumpers. The event draws top pros and beginners alike with competitive classes for almost every discipline. The massive vendor expo is like a candy shop for gear heads and industry hobnobbers.

But you don’t have to be a competitor or a hard-core bike junkie to enjoy this event. For families and groms, Sea Otter offers kids races and a mini bike play zone not to mention a handful of free bounce houses and kid friendly activities (hint to parents: the Sierra Nevada booth is nearby).

For spectators, there were trials and mountain bike stunt demos. Camp of Champions out of Whistler pumped up the crowd with a Big Air Bag exhibit. H5 Events and Red Bull hosted a rocking dirt jump contest and the speed and style track made a sweet addition to the daily scene.

Expo-goers earned swag by competing in arm wrestling, extreme musical chairs and other wacky contests. I walked away with a new “peanut butter spreader.” This was a personal first in the swag department but my well-concealed excitement confirmed for me that parenthood has officially killed any bit of “cool” left in my blood.

So after a healthy dose of sunshine and some chill time by the sea, the annual pilgrimage to Sea Otter reminds us that bike season isn’t gone forever. It just might be a while before we’re back in the saddle at Tahoe.

The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk (or hike, surf, climb, bike or Sea Otter Classic trip) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

Working on the Weekend: Kirkwood 9 to 5

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

This Adventure of the Week is penned by Mike Lefrancois, a 10-year Tahoe resident who lives in Kings Beach and has been mountain bike racing locally for the past decade. While most of us think 9 to 5s as hours worked for the Man, Mike chose to put himself to work for 8 long hours of singletrack.

WHO: Mike Lefrancois and Will Stelter

WHAT: Kirkwood Nine to Five Endurance Race

WHERE: Kirkwood Mountain Resort

WHEN: August 28, 2010

GEAR: ContourHD 1080p helmet cam, Jetboil stove for coffee to start the day, GU Energy Sports Gel and Cytomax to make it through the day


Inspiration came for this one probably after doing the Coolest 24-hour relay this past May down in Cool, CA.  I was on a team of four, and we each rode about 50 miles over the course of 24 hours.  Many others rode longer with fewer teammates or solo, something I had never tried.  Eight hours solo seemed within my ability as we often have long days in the saddle on the occasional epic ride, and I figured I could step up the pace and find my limit.  I’m sure those who don’t race think I’m crazy, but it’s something I’ve taking a liking to.  I figured this would be good learning experience too for future endeavors.

My buddy Will was an early partner in crime here; he is not one to race often but he also enjoys senselessly long bike rides.  We packed up my VW with provisions and bikes and set off to Kirkwood Friday afternoon to get a jump on setting up our pit, register and get all the easy work out of the way.  We arrived to frigid temperatures and gusty winds.  Not all surprising as this cold snap was forecast, but 40 degree temperatures were something we had not dealt with all summer.

I have a habit of not preparing in advance and haphazardly throwing things in the van with the hopes everything will be there in the end.  We were on solo missions and had no support.  I woke up that morning knowing my bike still needed some tuning, I had no pump and my front tire had a slow leak.  My derailleur hanger was bent.  My bottle cage screws were stripped and needed some rigging.  I dressed too light for the weather, fixed a few things with zip ties and scurried off to the pre-race meeting with a ContourHD helmet cam loaned to me by Tahoe Mountain Sports.

I was racing “expert,” and Will was racing “sport.” We arrived at the start/finish area to a crowd of 100 or so, and the usual race rules were rambled off.  Team Bigfoot has been sponsoring the race so we got a taste for the way they run things.  All races seem a little different, but this met my expectations of a low-key Kirkwood scene. There was a modest crowd of racers including the elite legend Tinker Juarez.  I couldn’t help but notice he chose the same bike as me (Cannondale Scalpel) so I knew I was in the right club.  I’m sure his mechanic is better than mine and his pit crew took care of him just fine.  Turns out he was using this as a warm-up race for the World Masters championship coming up in Brazil. The guy is 49 and crushes people half his age.

A dirt bike lead us out around the parking lot to string out the field before necking down to singletrack (see video 8 above).  I struggled to hang on to the front but was feeling strong.  It quickly set in that I had 8 hours of racing ahead and I should settle into a pace.  I never saw Tinker again.  I felt good and started to soak in the scenery and find my groove.  I always would tell new racers to ride your own race and don’t let the guy taking off in front get to you.  I was not competing with Tinker. There were a handful of others too that I couldn’t worry about so I let them go.

It didn’t take long to catch up to a few of the guys dropped off the front however, but likewise I met up with a few riders from behind. Turns out a few strong riders I’ve raced with on Thursdays at Northstar were here so I knew we had a race.  I spent the next few laps trying to keep pace with a single speeder who would drop me on every climb.  I made a point of putting down some calories every lap to keep pace with my efforts.  I rounded the final bend after my first three laps and the clock read 2:01, only ¼ of the way done.  It felt good however and I had consistent lap times.  Each lap was 6.5 miles and I recall doing the math in my head that I had already ridden nearly 20 miles.  That next lap is where it all began to change for me.


ContourHD Footage of Mountain Biking Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

WHO: TMS Owner Dave Polivy with Mike and Pam Lefrancois

WHAT: Mountain biking up to Armstrong Pass and down Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

WHERE: Trails near South Lake Tahoe

WHEN: August 2010

GEAR: ContourHD 1080P Helmet Cam for capturing all the sick footage for later viewing, Zoic Ether Bike Shorts for comfort in the saddle, Deuter Hydration Pack for keeping my energy up and Smith Trace Sunglasses for the perfect optical clarity in all light conditions


Every year I try to get in one long epic ride somewhere in Tahoe. We wanted to ride from the Stagecoach area of Heavenly, across the Tahoe Rim Trail and over to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride for the epic downhill. Because there were only three of us and it would have made a car shuttle a little annoying, we decided to try an alternative on this route. So, we parked at the Oneidas Road trailhead and road up that paved road pretty much up until the end. There is a short singletrack that connects from this paved road from the Corral trail and then meets back up again with the paved road at the end. Once at the end of the pavement, take a right and start up that singletrack until you reach Armstrong Pass. This will take about 1-2 hours depending on your climbing ability and is a fairly mellow, rolly climb that is quite enjoyable and not quite the torture as some other uphills around the Basin. Once you get to Armstrong Pass, you are not done climbing yet. There is about another mile or so climb up to the high point of this ride, but again, pretty mellow and not too steep. Once on the top, take a break and enjoy the views to the South of the Carson Pass area and to the north of Lake Tahoe.

After this, you are in for what I think is the best downhill mountain biking in the whole Lake Tahoe Basin. Start out riding the Tahoe Rim Trail down, through some amazing wildflower ridges and then in and out of small, well-spaced alpine trees and bushes. This section is fast and not too bumpy. After a few miles you will get to the intersection with Mr. Toad’s, which has the most awesome variety of riding you can ask for. It starts out with some fairly technical sections with big rocks and solid drops. After the first 20 minutes or so, the technical sections give way to open, fast curves that get you leaning into every turn and pedaling in between to really get the thrill and speed this ride can offer. All in all, if you are looking for the best ride in Tahoe, here it is, but make sure you are well prepared.

For now, enjoy the virtual ride from my ContourHD 1080p Helmet Cam footage:

Each week, Tahoe Mountain Sports takes a walk (or hike, bike, ski, surf, climb) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers, in our Adventure of the Week blog series. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

Tahoe Mountain Biking in November with the Vholdr Contour HD

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Here is the next installment in our Lake Tahoe Mountain Biking video series. Still riding on Novemeber 1st with no snow at all on our route, but the 60 degree temps were super nice! Took off from the Carnelian Bay area with Griffy and rode up to the Tahoe Rim Trail over to Watson Lake and then back down on the Rim trail on the other side. We both use Deuter Race X Air I hydration backpacks and I was wearing my favorite Icebreaker BodyFit 200 Mondo Zip shirt. All the footage was taken with the Vholdr ContourHD helmet camera and I am really starting to like the way it looks when you turn the Vholdr around and take the pics from behind. For those of you waiting on more info on the Vholdr Contour 1080P, keep holding tight as we will be shipping these out weekly for the next couple of months. Also, we will post some video from the 1080P when we have them in.

Vholdr 1080p Helmet Cam coming soon…

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, we did an epic 25 mile mountain bike ride from the top of Packer Saddle, home of the famous Downieville Downhill over to the town of Graeagle. This route basically paralleled the Sierra Crest on the west side then we climbed up and over the crest to Mt. Elwell and down the east side of Elwell to the town of Graeagle. I got some of the best footage yet with the Vholdr ContourHD Camcorder and here it is:

A few days ago, we also found out that VholdR is coming out with a new helmet camera and it will be called the 1080p. This helmet cam will have a faster frame rate than the existing Vholdr ContourHD and will have a removeable lens. Coming in at $329, we think this is a total steal. New units should be landing here at TMS within the next few weeks so be sure to preorder yours today because I assure you, we will run out!

Lake Tahoe Mountain Biking – Rim Trail and Missing Link

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Here are a couple new videos all shot with the Vholdr ContourHD helmet camera. 2 are from a Tahoe Rim Trail ride from Brockway Summit out to the Mt. Rose Wilderness Boundary and the second set is from a Western STates, Painted Rock, Missing Link Ride. The last one where I turned the Vholdr ContourHD around was one of my favorites.

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