Mr Toad's Wild RideWell I finally got here after flying into Vegas with my wife for a sunny holiday in CA. We stayed in a great place called the Tamarack Lodge 1.5 miles out of Tahoe City on the Northwest of the lake. I met up with my good friend Todd and his family who I chanced upon at Slickrock in ’06. We rode Porcupine Rim last year and have had this jaunt organised since Christmas ’07.
First priority was to rent a bike. A ’08 Heckler looked good to me for the price so with pedals attached, camelback filled I rose at 5:30am to meet Todd and drive to the trailend on Oneidas/Fountain Place Road at Meyers off the 89/50 south of South Lake Tahoe. Boy it was cold even for a hardy Brit used to the unpredictable climate at home. I put on my windproof and as we set off it felt like a British eye popping winter ride rather than a Californian summer one! I knew it would change as we started the lung busting 3000ft, aptly named, ascent up Armstrong Pass. The tarmac ended after 4 miles and then the dirt started and went up and up and on and on. We had plenty of stops especially as I was still recovering from a fall off the bike I had had 2 weeks earlier, which I thought was going to put the an end to the riding this summer. Thanks to a brilliant physio I was almost back to pain free status.
The ride was only 20 miles so I had told my wife to expect us back at about 11:30 am. Well by that time we hadn’t even got to the top of the climb. A grovelling phone call back to the Lodge on Todd’s mobile did the trick for the time being!! We hit the Tahoe Rim Trail and both breathed a sigh of relief. Rim and trail sounded so much easier than pass. A nice gentle ride along the edge. You are joking. More climbing! Was it ever going to end? There was the added factor which accounted for our exhaustion – altitude. We were climbing from about 6500ft to 9500ft! The highest mountain in England is 3200ft!!! We turned right off the TRT and on towards the miss named Tucker Flats still heading uphill!! Eventually we hit a sign the Saxon Creek Trail aka Mr Toad’s Wild Ride! Wahey! This was the start for us. We chatted with two other riders who had climbed from the other side of the valley up Warr Trail. They made strange gesticulations and used various metaphors to describe what we had just ridden up!! Made us feel pretty good to be honest!! Now the fun was about to begin.
We headed down the trail which kicked straight into some serious technical stuff over huge granite bounders. We were buzzing, rolling down off these seemingly impossible drops. All however is ridable and will challenge any rider's skills. It took us a couple of hours to get down with plenty of stops to discuss what we had just gone over and the mbpost photo stops too! The lower sections were not as technical but fun non-the-less as we swooped on the single track round large fir trees like a giant slalom course. We were in our element with permanent smiles on our faces and we flew over rocks and round berms even though we were exhausted from the climbing, out of water and GUed up to the eyeballs on 2X caffeine Expresso Love! This was something approaching MTB heaven on earth!
It had to end though as the track levelled out and in the distance Todd’s pick up loomed. I have to say it was a welcome sight. We were knackered. The time scale had gone to boot. I arrived back at the lodge at 2:30pm, three hours out on our expected ETA! But I tell you what, every muscle and sense was zinging from an amazing ride. Now the wife wants to go for a hike in the hills! Owch!!