The summit like just about every other place has its good days and, its bad days. Fortunately, the number of good days far exceeds the bad, but the last two days were definitely bad. The severity of this winter has been discussed here in previous posts, but considering we are well into May, we thought we would be finished with it by now. Not so. This weekend we had a late snow storm with temperatures that were 20-30 degrees below normal. While May snow storms are not unusual up here, the very unfortunate consequence of this storm was a real blow to cycling enthusiasts like myself. For the first time, the Amgen Tour of California was starting at Lake Tahoe and Stage 2 was scheduled to come up Old Highway 40 right through the summit area. This is a world class event with the top cycling teams participating and a great event to observe.
My plan for my post this week was to be a description and photo gallery of the peloton of Amgen Tour riders as they came up Old 40 and crossed the Rainbow bridge. I had scouted out my spot weeks ago and had cleaned and tuned all my cameras and lenses. So when I heard the weather forecast a couple of days before the start for 6-10″ of snow, I started getting a bad feeling, especially because the weather at the time was sunny and warm. Right on schedule the storm broke on the summit on the Saturday before the start and it dumped a foot of snow on the summit. The storm extended over all of the Tahoe area and two minutes before the delayed start of the race, officials announced the cancellation of the first stage due to unsafe conditions. This was understandable in light of reports of 3″ of snow on some of the roads. Snow continued to fall the rest of Sunday and it was clear by Monday morning that there was no way the riders could start at Squaw Valley and pedal over the summit that had 4-6″ of snow on the roads. As it turns out, race officials had decided late Sunday night to start the race in Nevada City where the race had started the year before. And so instead of two stages touring the Tahoe and summit areas, the Tour left the area on a bus without a single pedal stroke.
The disappointment of cycling fans was not the only downside of the Tour cancellation. There had been a huge effort of time and money from the promotion to get the race to come to the area to the preparation for the event itself. Local service businesses were primed for the influx of cycling fans. Many festivals and events were planned around the event. There were estimates that the Tour would bring three million dollars into the local economy. Cancellation of the Tour was a serious financial blow to the area. The question now is whether the Tour organizers will even consider bringing the event back to area in the coming years. It could be argued that this year’s weather was a fluke, but to anyone who has lived up here, it is a fluke that happens all too often. We can only hope.
Sagehen Creek Update
We received some feedback about the Sagehen Creek hike that was recommended in last week’s post. The trail is clear of snow but it is muddy in spots. Flowers have already started blooming. It should be a beautiful hike for the next couple of weeks, once the sunny weather returns.