Our 5th Annual Rose to Toads ride is in the books and it was BIG this year! This year was the first time we had a special use permit for the ride which means we could raise money for the TAMBA Trail Fund and also make a nice donation to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and NV State Parks. The “unlimited bragging rights” you get for finishing this beast are legit! Huge thanks to the sponsors this year including the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship and Over the Edge Sports South Lake Tahoe for the rest stops, Tahoe Trail Bar, Wanna Ride Tahoe Bike Shuttle & Tours, Flume Trail Mountain Bikes, Shuttle Around Tahoe – Shuttle It (thanks Joe!) and Paul from Tahoe Sports Ltd for wrenching at Spooner. Keep Toads Wild!!!
Here’s a play by play ride recap by Tim Peare – Photographer extraordinary and snowboard industry guru. Mountain bikes are his new toy.
My wife and I decided to take the money we were going to use on a vacation and use it to purchase a couple of mountain bikes back in May of 2015. I never had a mountain bike and had never gone mountain biking. 11 weeks later I was sitting in the back of a shuttle leaving from Corral to Tahoe Meadows on Mount Rose for the 5th annual Rose to Toad’s Ride. This was the first official year, meaning that the forest service was on board and the turnout doubled from the previous years to 140 riders. My crew consisted of friends, David Reichel and Brian Levy, both first timers as well so we had no idea what to expect. The shuttle service was awesome and I highly recommend taking it to anyone heading out for the 2016 ride. The morning temps were cold, just above freezing but with the anticipation and all the mountain bikers it didn’t feel that bad. We were blessed with a sunny day. Dave really wanted to get going and we fit our self into the middle of the pack. It was chaotic and fun as we made our way through the meadow and into the first climb. Right off the bat there were riders who had flat tires or other mechanical problems all within the first two miles….60 more to go! haha.
Lake Tahoe was a gorgeous hue of blue and very mirror-like as we made our way through the Flume trail. Expansive lake views during this section. Upon arriving at Marlette lake, we ran into event organizers Ben and Amy Fish and we chatted for a few minutes and took a couple snapshots. I had brought a camera along like I was going to take a million pictures or something. I did take a few but as the ride continued, I had less and less energy for pictures.
The first rest stop was at the South Spooner parking lot and was seriously festive, hosted by the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship and had a Gilligan’s Island theme! People were either refueling or drinking cocktails. I myself, although I love cocktails, had to pass and went for the carbs, fruit and electrolyte offerings One thing that caught my attention was that I was being asked by other riders how far I was planning to go. It was funny because I hadn’t really considered any other scenario than finishing the ride at the end of Toad’s.
The climb up from Spooner to the Bench was grueling and both of my companions were crushing it as I began to slow. By the time I reached The Bench, I was exhausted. I took a few moments to collect myself, rehydrate, take a couple photos and began the descent down to Kingsbury Grade. Somewhere along the way my rear tire blew and I set up shop on the side of the trail and repaired my flat. It was the first time I have had to do this alone. I got it working but was definitely nervous since I had only brought one spare tube.
The second rest stop was positioned at the Boulder Lodge at Heavenly hosted by Over The Edge and fully stocked with grilled cheese sandwiches and every other type of fuel you could ask for. I didn’t want to leave. This was the first major exit for many of the riders who didn’t plan to finish. Rose to Van Sickle…that’s a thing now, haha, maybe next year.
This is where the biking became really difficult for me. The route from Van Sickle to Stagecoach was long and I didn’t catch up to my riding companions until just before Monument Pass…That’s a great distance. It was during this time that I found myself in different packs, all with riders that were suffering and we fed off each other. I needed them and they needed me. This was home territory for me, so I was well aware of what was to come. Reunited with my riding crew, we made the climb up to Star Lake, took the quickest break ever and fed off of each other to each new stepping stone.
Star Lake to Freel Pass to Armstrong Pass. It was here that we made our final decision to complete…there was no backing out if we wished to continue…and we all agreed to continue. It was almost immediately after this decision that the cramps crept in. I had to learn how to ride the bike and stay calm, without applying too much pressure, or I would cramp. Honestly, it was terrible…and by the time we reached the Saxon Creek Trail, a.k.a., Toad’s Wild Ride, it was dark…but it was all downhill from here. All of us had come prepared with headlamps and/or bike lights and we picked our way down Toad’s. The dark made it a surreal, scary and awesome ride. Upon the exit of Toad’s we were greeted with the Labor Day fireworks celebration through the trees. As we made the small hill climb up to the parking lot at Oneidas, we were greeted by a group of people who congratulated us. We were not the last one’s, other’s were navigating through the dark as well.
This ride was the most difficult physical event I have ever taken part of. I know now that I am a better person for doing it and look forward to next year’s event. I would like to thank all the sponsors, TAMBA volunteers and anyone else who lended a hand to provide an experience like this…and most of all, David Reichel and Brian Levy for sharing the experience together. Bucket list checked √