velojoy scouts the ambbr route by car, humbly

Lower Eagle Falls at Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, CA
Lower Eagle Falls at Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, CA. Photo: velojoy

Drizzle and slick roads nix a planned warm-up spin in Truckee, CA. Time for some drive-by reconnaissance of the nearest leg of Americas’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride around Lake Tahoe.

The scouting mission by car, south along Route 89 from Tahoe City, gives me a preview of the first of two large hills on the 100-mile route and introduces me to the spectacular vistas of Emerald Bay State Park.

The ascent to Inspiration Point, which we riders will encounter at mile 11, begins at 6336 feet with a gain of about 500 feet over 2 miles. It is followed by a 240-foot descent into a rest stop offering magnificent views of Emerald Bay, and then two minor additional ascents over 2 miles, according to the elevation chart published by AMBBR.  It’s a two-lane road with a surprisingly narrow shoulder; thankfully, the road will be closed to traffic on Sunday.

The verdict? I sincerely have no idea how I will climb this hill on a bicycle. Self-reproach oozes as I ask myself, “Why weren’t you humping it up Bear Mountain every single weekend of the past year?”

Later, when my host arrives for the weekend from the Bay Area, he will inquire about my day, and I’ll describe the scouting mission.

“Did you drive over to Spooner Lake?” Todd will ask.


“Well, that’s the really big hill.”

* * * *

Vikingsholm Scandinavian-style mansion, Lake Tahoe, CA
Vikingsholm on the shore of Emerald Bay. Photo: velojoy

Take this hike: On the shore of Emerald Bay and overlooking tiny Fannette Island is Vikingsholm, an ornate, 38-room nordic-style mansion. It was built in 1929 as a summer residence for the heiress Lorna Joseph Knight.

For trivia fans: Mrs. Knight, who is best known for building Vikingsholm, was also a primary backer of Charles Lindbergh’s solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1927.

Top: Lower Eagle Falls at Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, CA. Photo: velojoy

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