Biking to Lake Tahoe

Truckee River in Squaw Valley

Last week I was in Lake Tahoe for a few days on a press trip. I haven’t been to the mountains in the west for a long time and I was really excited to visit Lake Tahoe since I had never been there before.

I arrived in late in the evening, and I couldn’t see anything when I arrived, so the next morning I was up early (I was on East Coast time!). After getting some work done and eating breakfast the second the restaurant opened at 7 am, I had an open morning to fill. Instead of lounging by the pool (the mornings are a little chilly in the mountains, not that that stopped other people!) I decided to explore the Resort at Squaw Creek (and get some photos of it while no one was awake).

Truckee River in Squaw Valley

After two long flights the day before, I wanted to do something active in the morning. The resort had a lot of options, but I really wanted to bike the 6.5 miles into Tahoe City to get my first glimpse of Lake Tahoe.

I had to be back for a lunch meeting and I thought I could make the 13 miles in the time I had, no problem. What I didn’t account for was wanting to stop every few minutes to take photos. I didn’t realize that the ride along Truckee River was going to be just as beautiful as the lake itself.

North Shore in Lake Tahoe

Since Lake Tahoe had so much snow last year the river and the lake were both still very high which was unusual for this time of year. It was absolutely stunning. On my way there it took me twice as long as the way back because I wanted to go slow and soak it all up.

There were tons of people riding, walking, and biking along the path that ran along the Truckee River to the lake, and also people floating, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing along the river. I had even asked the man I checked my bike out from at the resort if it was safe for me (woman, alone) to bike by myself and he sort of chuckled in a kind way. No, I didn’t need to worry, it was a very safe area. I live in DC and have probably watched too much true crime in my life, so I’m always thinking about that type of thing, but it was clearly safe.

Lake Tahoe

Even though I could only see a little part of the lake, it was beautiful. The water was so clear. The pine in the air smelled so good. I don’t know if you can get fresher air than in the mountains. It was a simple experience — just biking along a river — but it made me think about how we all need to make time to enjoy nature, the outdoors, and travel to other places to experience the different amazing things Mother Nature has to show off to us.

Olympic Torch in Squaw Valley

On my bike route I rode by the Olympic torch from when the 1960 Winter Olympics were in Squaw Valley. Crazy to think that the entire Olympics all fit in the tiny valley (which you can get a great view of it from the tram).

Soccer Field in Squaw Valley

I also passed this soccer field, and I just thought, wow, to be a kid growing up, and THIS is your soccer field. I mean, it was stunning. Surrounded by mountains and pine trees. Just beautiful.

Bike Path along Truckee River, Squaw Valley

And now we get to the fun part of the story…

Since I had taken so long getting to the lake by stopping and taking photos I had to rush back to get to lunch on time. The trail was paved and mostly flat so I knew I could just haul it back. Yes my quads might burn a little, but it’d be a great workout.

I got all the way back to the resort (another 6.5 miles back) and I was riding through the parking lot when a gust of wind took my hat off my head and blew it right in my face. I literally couldn’t see, while going slightly downhill in a parking lot. As I was trying to get the hat off my face, I must have caught some gravel because I went down. To my defense the street and parking lot was under some construction and there was loose gravel everywhere, but it would have been fine if my hat didn’t fly in my face as I had considerably slowed down at that point!

Once I collected myself and got up, I knew I was fine. My ego a little bruised as the construction workers came up and asked if I was OK. I was RIGHT THERE. IN THE PARKING LOT. So close to a perfect ride, so close to lunch without a hitch.

I knew I’d have some bruising on my left leg. I got to see them form over the course of 24 hours (will spare you photos). Four large dark purple bruises from my knee up to my hip. Not big deal. But my elbow…my elbow was another story. It was fine in that it was just a large scrape and bruise and swelling (no broken bones, I didn’t hit my head, and my camera, phone, and my favorite Lululemon leggings all made it out just fine).

This photo (below, ignore bad phone quality) was the day of. I had cleaned it up but it hadn’t bruised yet.

Currently, it’s a full week later, and while the bruising is slowly fading to shades of light purple, green, and yellow (on all my bruises) the scab is still very present on my arm. You don’t realize how much you use your elbow and forearm until you can’t. You can’t rest your arm on the armrest on the plane, or in any chair for that matter. It’s hard to sleep on my left side (my usual side) without having my arm bent into weird positions. And I didn’t realize how much that part of your arm gets bumped by things in one day. Ouch!

In the big picture it’s totally fine, not a big deal at all, and I won’t have any lasting damage beyond a scar (but I’m a writer — I had to tell the story of course!). It’s definitely still very tender, and preventing me from doing some plank workouts, but I’m just lucky I didn’t hurt myself worse! I do feel cool when people ask me about it and I just say “mountain biking accident” — omitting the hat/gravel story. 😉 I’d gladly do it all over again, it was a beautiful ride — worth the fall! I’m jealous of all the people who use that trail for their daily workout!

I showed up to lunch with a little blood upon my first meeting with the women I’d be spending a few days with. But I encouraged them to do the bike ride — just fasten their hat tightly and be careful in the parking lot!

It was actually really interesting, the majority of the people biking, walking, and running on the trail were 20+ years older than me (the road bike guys were totally smoking me). So the age range of people in the area was really diverse, there were even young moms pulling kids in buggies behind their bike with another kid on their own bike. I was like, you go mom (to myself in my head, I didn’t say it out loud, giving them silent praise for going through everything you have to go through to bring two kids on a bike ride by yourself). I felt like I could see myself in 20/40 years hopefully still doing the same thing all of the older people were doing — being outside and active and enjoying nature, no matter their age.

skinned elbow - biking accident

Thanks to the Resort at Squaw Creek for hosting me.