Mr Toad's Wild Ride

We had been planning this ride since last summer, or even longer. Finally June
23 came - off to Lake Tahoe to ride the famous trail: Mr Toad’s Wild Ride!

John Foss organized a cabin at the lake so we could have the benefit of
overnight acclimitization. The Lake is at 6200’ and the ride goes from 7200’ to
almost 9000’. The last time we did a ride like that, straight from sea level,
some people had breathing trouble. Brett Bymaster was our guide, having done the
ride solo a couple of years ago. See his web page
http://shay.ecn.purdue.edu/~bymaster/muni/toad.html for details and a map.

We started the trip from the Bay Area about 7pm Friday, squeezing 4 riders plus
6 unicycles into Bruce Bundy’s truck. After a stop near Sacramento for Geoff
Faraghan to deliver another new Telford to a happy customer, we arrived at the
cabin right at midnight to find John happily entertaining Rob Bowman and Andy
Jennings with unicycling videos. After a quick provisioning trip for beer, this
went on until 2am or so.

In the morning, just as we were leaving, Brett noticed the perfect gliding angle
of the street. Is he insane? No safety equipment…he’s cruising down the street
at an estimated 19mph - but he’s got no problem! I have to learn that! Breakfast
was big and good, then we drove the beautiful road to the southern end of the
lake and left Bruce’s truck at the end of the trail. 7 riders and unicycles
squeezed into John’s UNICYCL van and headed up to the start. At a bathroom stop,
Bruce joked about Mr Turd’s Wild Ride (caused by flushing).

Up at the trail head, some incredulous bikers were packing up: “They’re doing
Toad’s on those?!?” The first few miles is all uphill, climbing somewhat steeply
to almost 9000’. Brett managed to ride every foot of the way, but only by
employing fanatical devotion. Hearing him scream with frustration/triumph behind
us was great. There are a few technical sections, but mostly it’s just long
semi-steep mental exercise. Bruce was the undisputed “Dismount King” by riding a
really long way without stopping. We saw a bear cub that I chased down to
photograph. Flowers everywhere, snow on the peaks, warm, perfect!

At the top, everyone was ready for some downhill fun. It started off
wonderfully: gentle downhills, sprinkled with moderate technical sections. Soon
we came to the first of many extremely steep and rocky sections. Long drops,
sandy, not much time between drops to regain control, a non-stop blast. Bruce
and Brett managed to ride all of it. The mountain bikers we saw were walking the
hardest sections. There were a few muddy stream crossings, some snow banks to
play on, and 7 huge smiles.

The last few miles was mostly downhill and not so difficult. One of Brett’s
cranks came loose so he walked for quite a way - how could 7 of us not bring
one crank wrench? After fetching the van, we headed to a nearby pizza place
for an excellent dinner, then the long drive home. Bruce dropped me off just
before 1am.

This ride was so great that it will be a part of the Calif/Nevada Muni weekend
this September, even though it is longer and more difficult than our usual
rides. There will be a somewhat easier ride too. For more information on Muni
weekend see: http://www.unicycling.com/muni/muni2000/ You can see my photos
online at: http://www.zing.com/album/?id=4294025159&code=181365&mode=invite

I hope many of you get a chance to do this ride with us in September! I think it
really is the best unicycle ride I’ve ever done.

—Nathan