Epicenter Crew Takes Tahoe
A few weeks ago, owner Shawn Wilson called me over and asked “Do you want to ride Tahoe next Thursday?”
So there I was at 5:30 on a Thursday morning, scrambling in my garage to find an extra tube and the match to my glove. I put my day pack on my back, swung my Camelbak around my belly, hopped on my saddle and pedaled in the dark over to the Mission Street shop.
To my surprise I was the first to arrive and wondered whether I should run over to Ferrells for donuts. Everyone started arriving though and the excitement was high. We were about to drive to Lake Tahoe to ride Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, a trail only the boss-man had ridden before. And then we were to return to Santa Cruz ... all this in one day! It was sure to be an adventure.
We barely hit any traffic and arrived at the trailhead some time past 10am. First we shuttled Armstrong and Corral. It was incredible! Armstrong was a glimpse into the rocky loose terrain we would later encounter on Toad's, while Corral was full of berms and tabletops. The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship built Corral a few years ago and you can tell it was built by professionals — it is the perfect example of a sustainable, fun, and accessible trail. Bravo, SBTS!
After our second lap on Armstrong and Corral, we drove to the top of Armstrong and scrambled up the climb to Toad's. The ascent was about eight miles long, and I think I dismounted more on the climb than I did on the descent due to lack of momentum. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire climb. It was flowy, with no steep pitches, and was mostly in the shade.
Once at the top we were all excited and a bit antsy for the descent. I had heard so much about Toads beforehand; that it was difficult, that I might have to walk sections. In truth, it was like sailing through a gorgeous alpine paradise, with changes in terrain and habitat with every drop in elevation. I think I laughed and cheered the entire six miles down. I could not stop smiling. My teeth were caked in brown, high elevation dust. It was non-stop fun, and one of the best trails I’ve ever ridden.
The first half was mostly rocky sections that never seemed to end. Nothing was extremely steep, just technical. We crossed through several meadows and breathtaking vistas. Unexpectedly, near the bottom it became very flowy and loose with long, wide turns, and a few staircases. I can’t express enough just how fun it was to ride such a long descent with so much variation in discipline.
We finished riding around 6pm and headed to the lake to jump in. Magically, a reggae concert was just starting on the beach. We sat in the water, letting the waves wash over us, and looked around at each other grinning. Without saying anything at all, we knew we had just shared a day in paradise.