America's Most Beautiful Unicycle Ride, June 5, 2011

I’m signing up for the Century. Who else wants to ride?

This is a ride around scenic Lake Tahoe. It’s 72 miles around the lake, with an optional out-and-back to Truckee to make it a full century ride. The organizers also offer a half-lake option, which starts with a scenic boat ride from the South Lake Tahoe up to the north end of the lake, and riding 35 miles from there.

I did the ride in 2006 and 2007. Here are my 2007 pictures and 2006 pictures. It really is a beautiful ride, but challenging. Lake level is around 6300’, with lots of hills on top of that. But the scenery is amazing, and being in with huge amounts of other cyclists, and their supporters, makes it a very fun ride. All along the way there are other riders, and their friends and family scattered around, cheering everybody on. I highly recommend it.

Registration is limited, and it fills up fast. Registration is open now, so don’t wait too long to decide. Once it fills up, that’s it! They close a section of Highway 89 to all traffic and non-registered riders until 9:00am, which makes it risky to try to “crash” the ride without being registered. But it’s worth it to be registered. A fully supported ride means not having to carry all that food and water. There are several rest stops along the way, and a big one for lunch with tons of food!

Hi John:
I have wanted to do this imperial century ride for the past several years. This just might be the year that I can do it.

How early are you planning to head out to Tahoe before the event?
When are you planning to head back?
Are you planning to stay somewhere?


Hi John,

It looks like fun. How accommodating are they of slow riders? I assume the Uni crowd would cluster at the back of the group. I would probably only try the 72 mile route rather than the full century.

What equipment do you use? Will you go with a guni? What crank size do you recommend for the hills? I usually use 125 mm but find long steep grades a bit of a challenge. Is there anything more than an 8% grade? How about a 10% grade?


OOOOH, sounds like fun. I’ll have to check out the website when I’ve got a little more time. After Reach The Beach last year, which doesn’t get much above sea level, the Tahoe century would be upping the difficulty level significantly.
I’ll seriously consider it. How soon do you think the registration will close?


I’m considering the 72 mile option. It’s been a while since I’ve done a big ride.

It would be awesome if you could come, Carl. Jacquie and I will probably head up on the day before, though it helps to go earlier as your body will acclimate to the altitude better. Last time we got together on the day before with most of the other unicyclists, for my first-ever experience at Disc Golf. The course in Zephyr Cove, for a beginner, basically translated out to the rules of “throw a frisbee at a tree, as hard as you can.” It was fun. My other experience was kind of the opposite, at a course in the desert, in Moab.

I’m sure there will be others doing the ride, and there will be multiple options for carpooling and room-sharing.

Jacquie and I will probably head back after we’re done riding. After a big meal, that is! There’s an optional pool party at the Horizon Hotel (start/finish point) for $20 but I don’t think any of the unicyclists have ever partaken of that. In fact, I’d like to offer a pool party at my place afterwards. Arrive when you get there! :slight_smile:

BTW, the finish area is one of the coolest parts of this ride. When I got there, there were hundreds of people all around, and of course the unicycles attract attention. You finish to big crowds of cheering people like you’re finishing a stage in the Tour de France!

Jaquie and I will probably stay at Harrahs again (next to the Horizon), as we get discounts. But if there’s a big group, they usually get some inexpensive motel rooms right nearby, where sharing makes it very affordable. Then we get up super-early and head out while it’s dark and cold!

There are riders of various levels. We get to pass plenty of bikes on the uphills, but they always win on the downhills. Riding the 72-mile option, it might get lonely after you pass the turnoff for the century riders, but later when the catch up again you’ll still have lots of company on the road.

As for uni crowd, the riders will probably go in many small groups of people who ride similar speeds. I was very happy to have Corbin and Louise with me for the second half of the lake last time; it made the ride much more enjoyable. I was a little disappointed on my first time, in 2006. At the beginning of the ride, Nathan told me “Beau wants to go for the century next year, so we’re planning to really hammer this time”. So we had a nice paceline up to the first big climb, but I didn’t really see the faster riders after that. Same thing in 2007 (really big uni-paceline; it was awesome!), but there were more of us so I rode with various members of the group up to the century turnoff.

Nothing wrong with doing the 72-mile option, it’s still quite a challenge and a great bucket list-type item in itself. :slight_smile:

I used my Coker with 125s both times. Most of the hills are not steep, so the 125s offer a good compromise between climbing power and speed. The steepest/hardest climb is the one up to Emerald Bay on 89, at around the 8 mile mark or so. If you look on Google Maps you’ll see the hairpins. I don’t know the percentage, but that’s the steepest part. Once you get past that, mostly it’s just “normal” ups and downs, though some are pretty long. Check out the official elevation maps. The official ride photographer has been stationed at the last steep part of that big climb, to catch you at your worst. I made it all the way up my first year, but was taking it a bit easier in '07 and walked the last bit. Plus it’s a great photo spot at the top, with panoramic views on both sides of the road!

This year I will have my KH/Schlumpf 36. High gear for the downhills and 150s for the uphills! And good brakes. :sunglasses:

I honestly don’t know. All I know is that it’s a limited amount of riders, and once registration is closed, participating “early” is difficult. Robert Allen tried to just ride in in '06, but got stopped at the road closure because he didn’t have the necessary stickers. He had to wait until they opened up the road at around 8:45am to get past that point.

For best results I’d contact the organizers; they can probably give you an idea of when it usually fills up. You probably have until March? But that’s only a guess.

If you’re coming in from out of town you’re welcome to stay at my house before we drive up, but I’ll have to be working on the weekdays. There’s room in the car too, and we could even use a shuttle driver if you have another person who’s interested, to come along with you. Jacquie wants to shoot for half the lake, but their boat ride option is expensive and may not offer the timing that would work for us.

Just registered and paid the fee. The plan is for Jacquie to join me/us in Kings Beach for the second half of the lake. We’ll have a support vehicle, of sorts, and driver. It won’t be driving along with us, but it will be available during the second half of the ride. Not that there isn’t plenty of support along the way for registered participants. The thing I learned last time was that I didn’t need to carry so much water and food; I was always riding toward more! :slight_smile:


How did it go?:smiley:

They’re probably still riding! :smiley:

I just got back from Tahoe… When I drove up there around 3 it looked like many of the riders had finished.

I hope they’re not still going; it’s dumping rain right now! :astonished:

3pm? They must have started at 5am or earlier if they did the full century! And that would make it a 100/10/1! More likely the early finishers did the 70 mile ride since the full century was optional, or even the shorter 35 mile option. Wish I could have joined in! :slight_smile:

The weather forecast was for cold and rain, with cold and rain (and possible thunderstorms) on the bracketing days. High of 53 or so. I bailed in time to cancel my hotel room, and the ride organizers kindly were offering people the chance to transfer their registrations to their Sept. 11 ride, which I did. All of you are cordially invited to join me and whoever else joins me on that day, for a 72-mile ride around the lake! No century option for the September event.

Though I did a 60-mile ride last Monday, I also picked up a cold from one of the two BBQ events I attended over Memorial Day weekend, and the weather was rainy/sketchy all week, which also worked against preparing for such a major ride. So my plan is, weather permitting, to head out from my house early next weekend, and ride 100 miles of assorted bike paths and other lower-elevation, not-so-cambered surfaces. :slight_smile:

Current plan is to head out from my house to the American River Bike Path, ride it to downtown Sacramento, connect to the bike path along I-80 and ride it to Davis. Turn around and head back, then connect to the bike path up through Rio Linda, then turn around and go back to the ARBP, heading back toward its other end, which is Folsom. Cruise around some of Folsom’s many bike paths, and figure out how much more riding is needed to get me home with a number above 100 miles (but not too much above!).

Of course you’re welcome to join me for all or part of that; send me an email if interested. Thanks Austin and Terry for your interest in my ride; I really want to get one in while my body is conditioned for all the miles!

When are you going to be doing this?