A September weekend of Tahoe firsts

August 13, 2013 | Tim Hauserman

Mark your calendar to be in Lake Tahoe for the weekend of September 21st and 22nd when two challenging athletic events hit the Lake Tahoe region for the first time. The Sierra Valley Gran Fondo and Ironman Lake Tahoe.

Sierra Valley Gran Fondo
On Saturday, September 21st the Sierra Valley Gran Fondo, sponsored by the Reno Cycling Club, makes it’s inaugural ride. A Gran Fondo is a mass start, timed bike event popular in Italy (and recently in Santa Rosa, where Tour de France standout Levi Leipheimer has organized the popular Levi’s Granfondo).  Some consider it a race, while others look at a Fondo like a century ride, but with the added motivation of a timekeeper pushing you to ride harder.  Either way, it’s an event available to a wide range of abilities in a place where North Tahoe folks love to ride. There will be four distances: The Piccolo Fondo is 33 miles, Medio Fondo 66 miles, Gran Fondo 96 miles, and finally the big daddy Mega Fondo, which comes in at an intimidating 160 miles. All the routes start in Loyalton and give riders a healthy dose of the beautiful Sierra Valley, a birders paradise. The longer routes head up over Yuba Pass through the beautiful Lakes Basin Recreation Area and Graeagle before returning across the valley.  The event is a fundraiser for the Sierra Schools Foundation, helping schools in rural Sierra County. I’m planning on doing the Gran Fondo, so I will be happy to report back on the event once I get a chance to recover. To register go to svgf.org. Registration prices increase on August 23, 2013.

Ironman Lake Tahoe
The first Ironman Lake Tahoe set for September 22nd sold out almost immediately, so unless you are signed up you cannot participate, but you can still cheer on this amazing group of athletes, including a large contingent of Tahoe locals, as they attempt to conquer what to many seems impossible. The course begins at Kings Beach with a 2.4 mile swim in the early morning chilly waters of our favorite lake. Once out of the water, the athletes quickly warm up after hitting the bike for a 112 mile ride, including two laps of the Tahoe-Truckee Triangle: Kings Beach to Tahoe City to Truckee and back over Brockway Summit to Kings Beach. Then they get off their bikes in Squaw and…run a marathon. By that time, the athletes are probably glad this last stage is along the nearly level Truckee River Bike Trail between Squaw and Tahoe City. It’s an incredibly difficult mental and physical challenge, and all the participants would surely appreciate your encouragement. Thousands of volunteers are needed at the various aid and feed stations. You can sign up to help here.