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Top 10 spots to watch the Amgen Tour of California in Tahoe and Truckee

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

For six years, the top professionals of cycling have tackled the winding roads of California in a Tour de France–style race with diverse challenges and amazing scenery. This year, the race kicks off at Lake Tahoe, and goes through Truckee on day 2. All we can say is, what took them so long? Our region’s breathtaking landscapes, exhilarating roads and athletic culture fit perfectly with this world-class event.

With that in mind, we’ve been working on a list of places to watch the world’s top cyclists compete for the leaders’ jerseys in their different disciplines.


Top scenic spots:

Emerald Bay: It’s going to be tough to beat Emerald Bay for a great shot of the peleton (cycling speak for pack) snaking its way up the switchbacks of Highway 89.  Located on Highway 89 between Homewood and South Lake Tahoe. Bonus: Racers will go by twice. What to bring: you’ll have to stake out a spot early here, so bring a Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover to stay warm in the early morning hours.

Cave Rock: The East Shore’s famous cave rock also offers spectacular scenery on Lake Tahoe’s shore. Spectators who started in South Lake Tahoe may migrate here, so finding the best view may require some hiking or scrambling. We recommend The North Face Crestone hiking shoes to get you to the perfect spot sure-footedly.

Tahoe Mountain Sports: Yes, of course we’re in our own list, but for good reason. Located right across the street from the beach, you can’t beat the scenery, and racers will pass on their way back to South Lake Tahoe, and around the corner on their way up Highway 267 on the way to the Northstar-at-Tahoe finish. Bonus: easy access to supplies in case you didn’t dress right for the weather.

Truckee Mousehole: Truckee is putting on “The King of the Mousehole” competition on day two, where the first rider to sprint through the Mousehole (the Highway 89 undercrossing tunnel of the railroad) wins points and the title of king, guaranteeing nail-biting action for spectators.  Fans are sure to be cheering loudly here, so bring a Summit Bugle Bulb Horn to add to the din of excitement.

Donner Summit: Snaking their way up Old Highway 40 on day two, racers will be competing for King of the Mountain points at the top. They’ll cross the iconic Rainbow Bridge with Donner Lake in the background and under Donner Peak. Grab a Thermarest Trail Seat to stay warm and comfy sitting on the rocks.

Party picks:

Homewood/West Shore Cafe: With not one but two chances to watch the racers go by, Homewood resort and the West Shore Cafe across the street will be prime viewing locations with lots going on. Park for free at Homewood’s North Lodge, grab barbecue from the West Short Cafe, hit up the beer garden for craft brews, listen to live music by Boogaloo and compete in a race-inspired costume contest. Lodging packages are available.

Blue Onion Cafe: Kings Beach is another two-fer place to party. Cyclists go through Kings Beach once on the way back to South Lake Tahoe (lap 1) and turn right past the Blue Onion on the way to Northstar-at-Tahoe (lap 2). Live music, food, kids activities and much more are on tap for this local favorite cafe.

Northstar-at-Tahoe: The finish line for day one of the Tour of California, Northstar is no stranger to bicycle racing. The Village at Northstar offers a plethora of viewing locations and all the amenities. A festival expo, live music, a bike fit clinic, live TV viewing of the race and, of course, the dramatic finish are just a few offerings on the schedule.

Squaw Valley USA: True to its Olympic heritage, Squaw Valley starts off day two of the Amgen Tour of California. Watch the riders sign in under the Olympic Rings in the Village before they hit the road. Keep up with all the action with live coverage on the Jumbotron, enjoy live music and then go skiing for just $39!

Mountain Hardware & Sports: After racers speed up Highway 89 from Squaw Valley along the Truckee River, they’ll make a sweeping turn into Truckee, right past Mountain Hardware & Sports on the corner of Donner Pass Road. Live music and more will keep you entertained while you wait for the racers to arrive.

Want more? Here’s a complete list of the Amgen Tour of California events around Lake Tahoe.

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