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Trail Spotlight – Team Rider Karin Edwards: Mt. Rose to Toad’s

August 29, 2012

Looking for an epic all-day ride that showcases not only the beauty of Lake Tahoe, but also some of Tahoe’s best singletrack trails?  Then I have the ride for you – ‘Rose to Toads’!  This point to point ride covers 60+ miles of rocky, technical, and exhilarating terrain on the Tahoe Rim Trail, from the top of Mt. Rose Highway to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in South Lake Tahoe.  For those of us who live in Tahoe, this, like the Death Ride, is a kind of rite of passage – and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an adventure.  If you don’t want to ride the whole enchilada, there are many points to pull out along the way (Van Sickle Trail, Star Lake Connector, Armstrong Pass – to name a few).

Last weekend I rode a slight variation of the infamous ‘Rose to Toads’ ride (http://app.strava.com/rides/19106100).  After a 5:30am wake-up call, my friend Ben and I jump in the car and drive from South Lake Tahoe to the top of Mt. Rose Highway.  There, we meet up with a few more friends who live in North Lake.  At 7:30am we start our day, jumping on our bikes to enjoy a nice flowy, speedy, slightly downhill 9-mile segment of the Tahoe Rim Trail.  A nice warm-up to a long day.  The Rim Trail then comes to a 4-way intersection with the old Tunnel Creek dirt road.  Genevieve and I opt to head down the hill, to ride the world famous Flume Trail, with its breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe.  It’s not too often that you have the Flume Trail to yourself, but with our early departure and the sun just coming over the mountains, we feel like we are on top of the world.  After about 5 miles of smooth pedaling on the Flume Trail, we hit the first climb of the day – the Marlette Lake fire road.  At the top, Genevieve and Jim decide to take the less traveled Chimney Beach Trail, while I opt to take the fire road down to Spooner Lake and across Highway 50 to Spooner Summit.

From Spooner Summit, the Tahoe Rim Trail slowly winds its way up to ‘The Bench’.  The Bench is a popular after work trail for us South Lakers, but also literally a bench with an amazing view of the Lake.  After a 6 mile grind, I am rewarded with a rest on the bench, a snack, and a beautiful view.  I jump back on my bike and am again treated with a fun descent full of rock hopping, dropping small ledges, and smooth turns.  After about 7 miles, I get to an intersection and turn right, dropping down towards Kingsbury Grade.  This new 3 miles of trail is super fun to ride, peppered with skinny log rides and a few small rock features.

After a couple of miles on the pavement, I stop at a small market on Tramway – the only place along the route to refuel. After downing a coke, eating a PBJ, and replenishing my water bottles, I take stock of where I am in my day – even though I’m 30+ miles and about 4 hours into the ride, I’m glad my legs are still feeling strong because I’ve got a ton of climbing left to do.  It’s over 4500ft of climbing from Kingsbury to the top of Freel Pass.  After a couple of miles of riding through Heavenly Ski Resort, including contouring around the steeps of Mott and Killebrew Canyons, the trail hugs the eastern side of the Tahoe Basin and I get to enjoy expansive views of the Carson Valley.  This is not the place to fall of your bike, as it drops off quite dramatically to the left of the trail.  Just before summiting Monument Pass, I pick my way through one of the few hike-a-bike sections of the whole ride.  As I summit and begin my descent towards Star Lake, Mother Nature greets me with a torrential downpour.  My original plan was to take a dip in this beautiful alpine lake, however, the rain is still pelting down, so I carry on towards Freel Peak.  The climb out of Star Lake, although somewhat gentle, starts to feel like Everest as I ascend to the highest point of the day.

When I arrive to the top of Freel Pass, at 9,600 ft above sea level, I have cause for celebration – not only has the sun decided to come out, but because I’ve chosen to peel out at Armstrong Pass, it’s all downhill from here for me!  I catapult down the south side of Freel through high meadows and creek crossings, down to Armstrong Pass, where my friend Ryan has peddled up from town and is waiting to ride the last bit of trail with me.  From Armstrong Pass, we ride my favorite backyard trails home – Armstrong Connector, Sidewinder, and Corral.  And suddenly, 8+ hours later, 60 miles and almost 7,000 ft of climbing and 9,000 ft of descending under my belt, I’m done!  What a great day!

If you are interested in doing Rose to Toad’s this year and want to ride with a fun group of people, check out TAMBA’s 2nd Annual Rose to Toads ride over Labor Day weekend – http://mountainbiketahoe.org/2nd-annual-rose-to-toads/

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