Lake Tahoe mountain biking: a history lesson
Here’s your chance to meet a real “Rock and Roll” legend.
South Lake Tahoe mountain bike pioneer, Gary Bell, owner of Sierra Ski and Cycle Works, is sponsoring a History of Lake Tahoe Mountain Biking Exhibit at the Meyers Mountain Bike (MTB) Festival on Sunday, August 9, 2015.
“I want to help people understand the roots of Tahoe mountain biking, and how it’s evolved over the past three decades,” says Bell.
Having the exhibit at the Meyers MTB Festival is fitting, since the Triple Crown Ride links three of South Shore’s iconic trails - Christmas Valley, Mr. Toad’s, and Armstrong Pass – which Bell and his long-time friend, Geoff Clarke, would explore on the first Tahoe made mountain bikes called Clunkers that they built in 1978.
Made out of beach cruiser frames and big heavy tires, Bell and his buddies would ride their Clunkers all over, connecting abandoned hiking trails they called the “Cabin Ride” and “Tin Shack Ride.” Following one of their more crazy descents down Saxon Creek, they named the trail Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – South Shore’s most famous trail to this day.
Gary knows a lot about Tahoe bike culture, having owned his shop since 1980 and helping to organize the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association in 1988. When asked why he still enjoys turning people on to mountain biking after 35 years, he just smiles and says, “It’s about time spent in the woods.” With old Tahoe memorabilia decorating the walls, Sierra Ski and Cycle Works is the unofficial South Shore bike and ski history museum.
On Sunday, August 9th, festival attendees can check out a Tahoe Clunker built in 1978. Other vintage bikes on display include Gary’s 1979 Pro Cruiser built by Don Koski of Cove Bikes in Tiburon, considered to be the first production mountain bike. Koski will also be at the booth with his latest creation. See you there!