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Posts Tagged ‘Lake Tahoe Mountain Biking’

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.

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.

Still Mountain Biking Season…..

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Well, we are unfortunately reporting that it is still mountain biking season here in Lake Tahoe. With daytime highs in the 50s and high pressure holding solid over the West Coast, there is no clear end in sight. So, we rode from Highway 267 to Watson Lake and back yesterday. Here is the video, once again shot with the V.I.O. POV 1 helmet camera:


And once again, I am sporting my Icebreaker t-shirt and Zip up and my temperature was perfectly controlled the entire time. I can’t say how much I really love this Icebreaker stuff.

Enjoy the warm, fall-like weather while we have it!

First Snow of the Season and an Epic Mountain Bike Ride

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

The storm that rolled in Friday night into Saturday brought the first significant rain to Tahoe in months and a few inches of snow on the high peaks. This means that the trails were in amazing shape for a long ride on Sunday, so we headed for a long loop starting at Heavenly and ending on Mr. Toads Wild Ride.

Beautiful views of the Carson Valley about an hour into the ride.

Beautiful views of the Carson Valley about an hour into the ride.

A snowy Freel Peak in the background, we would be getting a much closer look later in the ride.

A snowy Freel Peak in the background, we would be getting a much closer look later in the ride.

The rain left these normally sandy trails in perfect shape for riding.

The rain left these normally sandy trails in perfect shape for riding.

Myself, not realizing how much climbing was still to come.

Myself, not realizing how much climbing was still to come.

Star Lake and Job's Sister, the ride is about to get a bit snowy.

Star Lake and Job's Sister. The ride is about to get a little snowy.

A little snow won't slow Dave down.

A little snow won't slow Dave down.

Looking back at the Lake.

Looking back at the Lake.

Getting close to the high point of the ride.

Getting close to the high point of the ride.

It's (almost) all downhill from here.

It's (almost) all downhill from here.

It ended up taking close to six hours to cover the 26 mile loop with 3,000 plus feet of climbing but the views and epic singletrack made it well worth it. Our Deuter and DaKine hydration packs filled with Nuun Electrolyte Active Hydration Drink Mix helped us get through the ride without bonking. Keep checking back for updates on late season Lake Tahoe mountain biking and hopefully some early season skiing soon.

Mountain Biking Tahoe Rim Trail

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Check out our latest Mountain Biking video taken using the VIO POV-1 helmet camera. The location is the Tahoe Rim Trail from Kingsbury Grade to Spooner Summit.

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