velojoy alights at lake tahoe, breathlessly

View of Lake Tahoe from Tahoe City, CA

My bike box and I have landed in Tahoe City, CA to gear up for Sunday’s 19th annual America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride around Lake Tahoe. What better way to pop the cork on velojoy than with a century ride at America’s largest alpine lake, known for its clear water and scenic vistas?

You’ll find details here at bikethewest, but this photo tells you most of what you want to know about this sold-out event. With views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains like this, you might think the biggest challenge of the 100 miles will be keeping my eyes on the road.

Or not. Aside from heart-stopping beauty, the ride around this historic silver-mining and logging locale turned mecca for tourism and recreation, offers two breath-snatching features unfamiliar to New York City-area riders like me: big hills and high elevations.

As my  friend Al, a veteran climber, observed during a recent training ride: “It’s not like here, there.”

I’ll say. Manhattan’s highest natural level of elevation, in Washington Heights, is 265.5 feet above sea level. The AMBBR ride, clockwise around Lake Tahoe through California and Nevada, ranges in altitude from 6,300 to 7,100 feet. Higher elevation means lower barometric pressure, or “thinner” air.  Thus each breath delivers fewer molecules of oxygen to support physical activity.

How to help your body adapt? Reactions to altitude vary, but here are a few basics:

    • if possible, arrive a few days early to help acclimatize
    • drink lots of water
    • avoid alcohol, caffeine and certain medications that affect breathing

Right now, I do notice added exertion in climbing the stairs to the kitchen — to fetch another glass of water. And that avoiding caffeine thing? Please refer to the About tab.

Next up: Retrieving my road bike from tuning at a local shop, and getting out on the road in Truckee, CA.

Top: The view across Lake Tahoe as seen from Tahoe City, CA on the west shore. Photo: velojoy

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