The Return of the Lake Tahoe Spectacular Weekend?

Long time members will recall that one of the annual events that the club put on was the Lake Tahoe Spectacular Weekend. This two-day event took place during the summer allowing for warm, sunny weather not only to enjoy cycling but also the lake itself. Members drove up Friday or early Saturday and spent two days of cycling in the Lake Tahoe area. We rented an odd house, “the Octagon” and cooked a group dinner Saturday evening.

The earliest versions of the weekend had riders drive half-way around the lake, park the cars, and then cycle back to the rental house; the second day we rode to the cars and then drove back, about 35 miles each way. This quickly evolved to riding around the lake in one day—70 miles—and then doing something else on Sunday, usually riding up Brockway Summit to Truckee and then back on Highway 89. Later when mountain biking became popular, some would instead do the Flume Trail.

The last time this trip was offered was around 2006. What killed the trip was the loss of “the Octagon”: it was taken off the rental market and there was now no easy way to house a large group inexpensively. The Octagon was an otherwise semi-decrepit ski house but it had one exemplary trait: it had a crapload of beds making a weekend at Lake Tahoe immensely affordable. There were four bedrooms that could sleep two couples each, a couple of bunk rooms that could accommodate four or so each, a hallway area with two beds (!), and then an upper seating area where at least a couple of folks could crash. It wasn’t uncommon to have more than 15 people attend; I recall at least one occasion when there were well more than 20.

A few years ago I attempted to rent the Octagon but was unable to get a response from the previous agent. About three years ago I accidently ran across it listed on VRBO. It had changed hands, had undergone a serious remodel and update, and of course was now a lot more expensive! But in its new incarnation it can still handle 12-16 people.

I ran the Tahoe Weekend at least once (and had even written a ‘how to’ document on how to organize the Weekend) but I no longer recall how much it cost back then. I think it was something on the order of $50-$75 per person for the entire weekend. That included two nights at the Octagon, breakfast Saturday and Sunday, a big Saturday dinner, and plenty of snacks.

To rent the Octagon for a weekend in August will now cost about $1,400 rather than $700 (= 2006 cost). On the immediate plus side is the much nicer digs as well as we no longer have to clean the place before we leave (we instead pay a cleaning fee). With a rough estimate of $35 per person for food and 14 participants, the average cost would be about $135 per person for the weekend. A quick perusal of motel costs in the Tahoe City area shows that one night alone would cost about that amount and of course no food would be included.

The room arrangement of the Octagon is such that filling every bed requires that we have exactly the right number of “couples” and singles. If not enough couples, then two people who don’t mind sharing a bed; if too many couples, then some who don’t mind sleeping separately for two nights. If there is ample interest, then we may be able to squeeze more people in to lower the cost but it will involve sleeping in the common areas (either the TV sitting area above the living room) or on the sofas in the living room. If there aren’t enough couples and someone doesn’t want a bedmate, a single supplement would be charged proportional to the house rental.

I would like to see the Lake Tahoe Weekend Spectacular done again and would like to get some feedback on the interest level and cost from members.

Here is my proposal:

Lake Tahoe Weekend Spectacular

August 17-19, 2018


  • Drive up Friday. For those who arrive early enough, go out to a group dinner near Tahoe City.
  • Saturday: ride around Lake Tahoe (70 miles), group dinner at the Octagon. Hang out at the Octagon; those inclined may go gambling, bar hopping, etc. in the evening
  • Sunday: ride to Truckee and return by Highway 89 (35 miles?? I can’t remember). Depart sometime in the afternoon.

Includes food for Saturday and Sunday breakfast, Saturday group dinner, and snacks.

Cost will depend on number of participants. If 10 people, then about $175 per person; if 14, then about $135; if more, then even lower.

If you want to view the Octagon, you can see it here.

I would like to get a reading on the interest for this trip. Would you be interested in participating under the conditions of this proposal? If not, what modifications would better fit your needs? Do you consider the price reasonable and affordable? Is this a good time for you to participate or would a different weekend be better?

Keep in mind that this is a general proposal and it can be modified. If you are interested in helping organize the weekend, let me know. Post your feedback either to the DSSF Yahoo! Group listserv or email me directly at

2018 is Just Around the Corner! Start Planning Your Centuries

At the Crater Lake Century

Was 2017 a bit of a bust for you because of the incredible amount of rain we got last winter and spring? The club ride calendar really suffered—not many were willing to proffer a ride with the likelihood of yet another weekend rained out and those that were offered were either cancelled or repeatedly postponed. It’s looking to be a drier winter and now is the time to mull over the Big Rides you want to do in 2018. Below is a select list of local and not-so-local centuries that Spokers love and cherish. Keep in mind that many of these rides have rider caps and do fill up. As we get closer to the dates we will be trying to organize Spokers who would like to ride together on a century.


1 Monday. Resolution Ride. Yes, it’s back thanks to David Sexton and Gordon Dinsdale, who seem to think climbing Diablo should be done weekly, not just once a year! Join Different Spokes as we join the crowd clawing our way up Mt. Diablo along with Diablo Cyclists, Grizzly Peak Cyclists, and the Valley Spokespeople—it’s a regular party on two wheels. Free! It’s not a century but it’s a way to kickstart your century accomplishments in 2018.


10 Saturday. Tour de Palm Springs. $80. Registration is open. It’s in the South land so it’s warmer, maybe, and probably drier,maybe, but there is usually a crew of Spokers who head down. Options for 10, 25, 50, or 10 miles.

11 Sunday. Velo Love Ride. $50. Registration is open. This used to be called the Rice Valley Tandem Ride and it’s usually on or close to Valentine’s Day, hence the name. A low-key event with a flattish ride around the Sutter Buttes outside of Chico. Starts in Gridley, just north of Yuba City—a bit of a schlep but a great ride. The meal at the end is worth it. Has a real “locals” feel rather than the usual mass-event mosh pit vibe. Sponsored by Chico Velo, the same fine folks who put on the Chico Wildflower.

24 Saturday. Pedaling Paths to Independence. $45. Registration is open. 65 or 25 mile routes. This is a pretty easy metric in the Valley that is a benefit for the Community Center for the Blind. It’s cheap too. Mostly flat so it’s not too demanding (unless the wind is blowing.) A good early season ride. Starts in Linden, east of Stockton.


10 Saturday. Solvang Century. $115 mail in; $125 online. Registration is currently open. It’s a long after-work Friday drive down to Solvang but you get to amble back home on Sunday. (But DST does begin that morning.) And be sure to reserve a motel room well in advance. Solvang is a big event but BikeSCOR has scaled it back from megahuge craziness to “just” 3,000 now. That’s still a lot of bikes on the same roads. Personally I’ll probably never do this event again because the cost is high and the rest stop food is Costco-perfunctory. And the after-ride meal isn’t even included. Seriously? But if you haven’t done it before, it’s a nice ride without a lot of elevation gain. (FYI major parts of the route have plenty of places you could stop on your own and get food way better than the mediocrity you find at the rest stops.)


14 Saturday. Cinderella Classic & Challenge. Registration opens 1/10/18. Limited to 2,500 women and girls. 65 or 87 miles. Sponsored by Valley Spokesmen, the very first women/girls only century ride now in its 42nd year. Boys will have to settle for Different Spokes’ very own Evil Stepsisters ride!

14 Saturday. Tierra Bella. $65. Registration is open. Limit of 2,000. A club fav and it’s close by to, in Gilroy. Great roads that are not suburbanized (yet). Post-ride meal is pretty good too. For unknown karmic reasons this ride gets horrendously rained out periodically. Last year it was sunny and great. This year??

15 Sunday. L’Eroica California. $150. Registration is open. 40, 70, 87, and 127 mile routes. The rides are part of the two-day festival of vintage bicycles, held in Paso Robles. You have to have a vintage bike to participate, e.g. no STI-like shifters, no clipless pedals, basically no bikes made before 1987 and the older the better.

21 Saturday. Sierra Century. $60. Registration is open. Limit of 1,200. 41, 65, 102, and 122 mile courses. Stars in Plymouth in the Gold Country, about 2.5 hours from SF by car.

21 Saturday. Sea Otter Classic. $110/$90. Registration is open. Did you know the Sea Otter Classic is more than a glitter show of new bike products and race watching? Yes, it has four rides, and in the spirit of “something for everyone” they offer two road rides (91 or 49 miles), a mountain bike ride (19 miles) , as well as a fad du jour “gravel grinder” (29 miles). But none of them is cheap.

21 Saturday. Bike Around The Buttes. $40/$45/$50. Registration opens 1/1/18. If you can’t make it to Chico Velo’s Velo-Love Ride in February, this ride covers similar roads in the Sutter Buttes area. Choice of 17.5, 40 or 100 mile routes.

22 Sunday. Primavera Century. $70. Registration is open. 100, 85, 63 and 25 mile routes. Last year there was no Primavera because Calaveras Road was closed due to earth movement caused by rain. Calaveras is still closed but is expected to reopen for weekends in early 2018. Starts conveniently in Fremont but too early to get there by BART (except for the 25-mile fun ride).

28 Saturday. Mt. Hamilton Challenge. Last year the Mt.Hamilton Challenge just never happened presumably due to uncertain weather. But this year the Pedalera Bike Club is promising it will take place.

29 Sunday. Chico Wildflower. $45/$75. Registration is open. 12, 30, 60, 65, 100, and 125-mile routes. This year there is also an 80-mile dirt/gravel option but it’s limited to 200 riders. This century is a club favorite. A group of Spokers usually arranges to have dinner together the night before in Chico. Booking lodging requires advance planning, as the Wildflower will fill up all the motel rooms in the area. If you can take Monday off from work, so much the better because you will almost certainly be whipped after the ride and the excellent post-ride dinner; driving back right after is just a chore.


5 Saturday. Wine Country Century. Wow. After losing a warehouse of century equipment and supplies in the Tubbs Fire, the Santa Rosa Cycling Club is still planning to put on the Wine Country Century in 2018. Now, that’s determination! No one would carp if they had decided to call it a year and coast into 2019. No information up on the web yet. This is a beloved century and one of the easier in the area.

6 Sunday. Grizzly Peak Century. Fee not yet announced; registration not yet open. 76, 102 or 110-mile road routes; 78 or 100-mile mixed terrain routes. Capped at 1,000 riders. Starts in Moraga so very easy to get to except not by BART because BART doesn’t open up early enough! The GPC is most definitely not a flat route–it’s a climber’s ride. This one always sells out, so don’t wait too long after registration opens, which I am guessing will be around the New Year. The end-of-ride meal is most definitely homemade and delicious!

19 Saturday. Davis Double. No information yet but the DD always takes place!

20 Sunday. Strawberry Fields Forever. $65. Registration opens in January 2018. 30, 63, and 100 mile routes. A pleasant ride in the Santa Cruz and Watsonville area. Despite the multitude of road closures in the Santa Cruz Mountains this past winter, their routes are intact for this spring.


3 Sunday. Sequoia Century. No information yet but Western Wheelers always puts this century on. 100, 72, and 50 mile routes.

23 Saturday. RBC Gran Fondo Silicon Valley. $700/$260. Registration is open. Yes, your read that right: $700 for a friggin’ 75-mile ride from Palo Alto to the San Mateo coast and back along the roads we ride all the time—Kings Mtn., Tunitas Creek, Stage Road, Pescadero Creek, La Honda Road. For the venture capitalist in your family. Well, you don’t have to drive far to do this one.

30 Sunday. Climb to Kaiser. Registration open on Christmas Day. 95 or 71 mile routes. If you enjoy heat and climbing, this is the ride for you. “Only” 7,500 vertical ascent but you have the pleasure of baking in the Central Valley.

Open & Closed Cases

Temporary one-way bridge to Canyon

This fall has finally brought a spate of road reopenings. By now you know that Morgan Territory Road has reopened as well as Alhambra Valley Road, which allows a complete circuit of the Three Bears—both were parts of recent Different Spokes rides. What I neglected to mention is that the Canyon bridge in Moraga also reopened about three weeks ago. The original bridge was scheduled to be replaced this year due to age when nature intervened in the form of earth movement, partly due to rain last spring, displacing the support piers and causing an immediate closure for safety reasons. The City of Moraga was finally able to install a temporary one-way bridge controlled by a signal and reopened the bridge on November 22 just before Thanksgiving. It allows the classic Orinda Pool Party route to be used again this summer as long as we don’t suffer another catastrophe this winter. Since we are probably staring at yet another dryish winter, this shouldn’t be a problem. Please note that the temporary bridge is one-way and users have to alternate crossing. Bicyclists may use either the roadway or the pedestrian walkway. But if you use the latter you must walk your bike. Don’t let your impatience get the better of you and ride across the pedestrian walkway even if there aren’t walkers. If you must ride rather than walk your bike, then wait for the green light to cross.

New Alhambra Valley Road

We rode the Three Bears a few days ago to check out the new section of Alhambra Valley Road. Looking down at the tiny creek it is hard to imagine that last winter’s rains were so prolific that it swelled to enormous proportion, enough to completely wash out the previous roadway. The culvert now is larger and should be able to withstand another epic winter should we have one. Alhambra Valley Road informally is the local dump for the local churls. You always saw piles of garbage, furniture, car tires, and garbage bags dumped by the side of the road because cretins didn’t want to take their shit to the county dump. Being completely cut off at both ends by the repair, it got a brief reprieve. But it didin’t take long for the Trash to furtively return: I counted no less than eight piles of dumpster crap along the road. Ah, back to normal!

On the slightly disappointing side, Calaveras Road is going to continue to be shut down to at least the end of September 2018. It is currently completely closed due to earth movement from last year’s rains and was scheduled to reopen in January 2018. But those rains also delayed the work on the dam so the contractors are now way behind schedule. When the new road that bypasses the undermined sections of roadway is finished, Calaveras will reopen to weekend use only. That is supposed to be “sometime in 2018”. Since the Fremont Freewheelers are going to put on the Primavera Century in April and use Calaveras, we hope that it’s sooner rather than later.

Ride Recap: Morgan Territory on 11/19


Just a day after it officially reopened Different Spokes finally did its traditional autumn ride over Morgan Territory Road. Although road cyclists have surreptitiously been poaching the road since its closure last winter, this was the first legal opportunity to ride it. Last winter’s rains saw the road collapse and one hillside to flow over the pavement cutting off the residents from Marsh Creek Road. The county couldn’t initiate a repair until the hillside stopped moving, which took months. The closure was long but once work began it moved steadily along just in time to open for…more winter rains. Nonetheless the reinforced section of road looks quite burly and able to withstand whatever Mother Nature will dish out this year (especially since it’s probably going to be dry-ish).

Build The Wall!

Stephanie and David Gaus managed to persuade five of us to tag along—me, Jan, Roger Sayre, Gordon, and David Sexton. It was more or less the traditional route from Walnut Creek BART—out Ygnacio Valley Road, which has scary fast car traffic but a wide shoulder—with a pit stop in Clayton before hightailing out Marsh Creek. Marsh Creek is another one of my favs for scary passes; the SUVs out there just love to whip past you no matter what the sight line is like. At least it is an incentive to redline your heart rate in order to get onto Morgan Territory as fast as possible. Things were much more tranquil there! In fact there seemed to be virtually no one trying out the reopened road, cars or bikes. We had the road pretty much to ourselves. We did a stop at the new retaining wall to check out the reinforced road and then continued on with everyone going their own pace up the ascent. Despite the road repair on the lower section the rest of Morgan Territory seems to be left to degrade at a slow pace— like wrinkles on your face every year more cracks and bumps appear. Perhaps it won’t ever arrive at the level of decay of Planet of the Apes but it has a nice start.

Morgan Territory Preserve had noticeably few visitors that day—was there a football game going on, had people already fled town for Thanksgiving, or was it simply the lack of awareness that Morgan Territory was now open? We saw just three other cyclists the entire way.

After a long snack break filled with more idle and pointless chattering we launched down the gnarly descent. Roger Sayre led the way with Stephanie right on his tail. The descent down the south side of Morgan Territory to Highland is steep, curvy, and full of blind spots. To make it even more challenging the road is narrower than standard width so there occasionally is no center line. To go down quickly you need nerve, good bike handling, and a bit of luck. One mistake and you’re colliding with a car or launching yourself off the steep hillside. Risk taking has to be second nature to you. But the rest of us seemed not to be thrill seekers so we took it easy. Back on the flat Roger proceeded to show us what training with a powermeter can do: to add to his courageous descending, not only can he now climb like a maniac but he’s a beast on the flats too. Fortunately I was tucked in behind him the whole way.

We stopped at Hi Tech Burrito in Danville. The lunch was, uh, unmemorable but at least the rice and beans were good fuel. Roger missed the lunch stop and we had no idea where he had vanished to. After lunch with the sun lying low on the horizon the rest of us returned to Walnut Creek BART at a leisurely pace.

Ride Recap: Social A Ride—Iron Horse Trail to Khyber Pass Kabob

Suitably stuffed with delicious Afghani food!

Last Saturday the threat of rain vanished and gave us a mostly sunny day to ride from Walnut Creek BART to our favorite Afghan restaurant, Khyber Pass Kabob in Dublin. We originally planned to ride to Dublin BART as well. But since we all wanted to do the full monty and ride back to Walnut Creek, we nixed the final mile after lunch to Dublin BART and just headed back the Iron Horse. Things always slow down in the club during the winter. Whether it’s the colder climate, holiday madness, or the winter doldrums, only Roy and Jim joined Roger and me for our easy gambol. What a gabby group! I can’t remember a Social Ride where there was as so much nonstop jabbering, which was perhaps abetted by being on the Iron Horse Trail where we could easily ride two abreast and free of car noise. We were all warmly dressed given the chilly morning, and we weren’t going very fast so it took longer to warm up from the effort. Regulars will be disappointed to hear that despite the tête-à-tête sized crowd we did not gossip about you (well, except for the Den Daddy)—not that your personal lives aren’t of interest to us but our personal lives just took precedence! Topics of lively interest included the advantages and misgivings of a Midwestern upbringing, why Thailand is so “hot”, what to wear on the bike when it’s cold, fabulous Japanese food, bikes we’ve had stolen, and many sundry digressions. So there!

Every time we go to Khyber Pass Kabob the food keeps getting better or so it seems. It’s in a slightly dumpy strip mall in Dublin, and recently their sign fell down and was propped in their doorway so now it looks even more down-market. But the family owners are as welcoming as ever and their food is incredible. We got there just after noon (how’s that for timing a ride!) and were the first customers. But before long it was nearly full. Roy had eaten there with us before so only Jim was the newcomer. I hewed close to habit and got the chapli kabob, a sirloin kabob spiced with green onions, cilantro and coriander whereas Roger explored a new dish to him, aushak, which is ravioli-like dish stuffed with leeks and topped with beef and yogurt. Roy ever watching his diet opted for borani kadoo, pumpkin sautéed with tomatoes and garlic while Jim went for the sabzee challow, chicken smothered in a spicy spinach sauce. We all shared a huge plate of freshly made Afghan bread, bolani, which was ten times better than the dreck you get at Costco.

Suitably stuffed we waddled back to our bikes and strolled back to Walnut Creek BART. Needless to say the ride back wasn’t at a breathtaking pace but it definitely aided our digestion!

We Recruit!


For a measly $20 you can support Different Spokes—that’s the cost of an annual membership. Different Spokes survives on folks willing to fork over a pittance. Almost all of you live in the Bay Area and know that $20 doesn’t get you very much. It’s way less than the cost of a good bike tire, about the cost of two cheap inner tubes, and just a bit more than a decent lunch. In a world of $4 lattes an annual membership in Different Spokes is a mere trifle to support your local LGBT cycling club!

We’re coming up to the end of the year when it’s time to renew. I know it’s easy to ignore that email reminding you to re-up especially with the prospect of yet another orgy of profligate holiday gifting. But your membership helps Different Spokes keep the lights on so please don’t ignore it. Membership dues barely pay for the ongoing running costs of the club. And by “running costs” we don’t mean Tony’s fabulous Rapha outfits! It means the web hosting, the liability insurance, our PO box, and just part of the expenses for our regular events such as the holiday party, the club picnic, and the Fall Social.

There are many other community organizations that deserve your donation or membership. If you are pondering whether to give that $20 to us or to the ACLU, in the era we are living in you know where it should go! But we hope that Different Spokes’ existence will continue to provide you with lots of fun, camaraderie, and relief from the grim reality in which we live. So please join/rejoin for 2018!

You don’t want that day to come when you click to get to the ride calendar and instead you get “404 Page Not Found”!

Quick East Bay Road Update

As we approach winter we are finally seeing progress on reopening the storm damaged roads from last winter. Here’s the status update.

Morgan Territory Road. Still closed but expected to reopen by mid-November. Strangely the ribbon cutting ceremony is set for December! See the details here.

Redwood Road. Still closed but projected to open January 2018. Details here.

Palomares Road. Already reopened.

Calaveras Road. Still closed indefinitely from the Sunol side. The Milpitas side is now open but you can’t go all the way through.

Canyon Bridge/Pinehurst. Still closed but the temporary bridge is projected to be open by late November. Details here.

Alhambra Valley Road. Will open this Friday, November 3. Press release here.

And over on the Peninsula, Skyline Boulevard (State Route 35) at Castle Rock Park is still closed with no news of a reopening date.