Yes, it is true that it is always 5 o’clock somewhere. At this moment, it’s 5 o’clock in Lake Tahoe, California. And yes, it’s time to go out on the motorcycle. One of the key things I look for in a location is the 5 o’clock ride.
What is the 5 o’clock ride? The 5 o’clock ride is an easy way to blow off steam from the day. It may not be the most scenic but it is loved by the rider. The 5 o’clock ride isn’t complex to get to. It doesn’t require bridges. Nor does it require tolls. The 5 o’clock ride makes riding easy. You grab your gear, you hop on your bike, and you twist the throttle. It really should be that simple.
On the peninsula, the 5 o’clock ride is fairly simple: the Skyline Hills. Highways 92, 84 and 9 make great entrances to Skyline Boulevard or out to the coast. I loved that ride for about 15 years while I lived over there.
I’ve not yet found the equivalent ride over in the East Bay. Briones Park, Mount Diablo, or Redwood Roads are all good candidates but a tad too urban for my desire. Maybe I’ll find myself in the Delta, but the traffic to get there is horrific.
But alas, I’m not in the East Bay. Sitting in Lake Tahoe, the 5 o’clock ride is clear: the west shore of Lake Tahoe. It’s one of Califonia’s 10 most beautiful stretches of contiguous pavement. The obvious however all clicked together and totally surprised me. It’s Monday (no weekenders). It’s autumn (minimal tourists). It’s 5 o’clock (the looming sunset is hurrying people away). What does that mean: uninhibited riding. It’s the first time I’ve been able to ride that stretch of highway not getting stuck behind slow moving traffic. Can I say happy? Absolutely!
There’s one stretch of highway 89 that I think is the most beautiful asphalt snippet in California. It was featured in the movie City of Angels. I remember seeing that movie in college. The cinematography around Meg Ryan riding her bicycle was truly outstanding. I took a mental note to find that place in the world wherever it was. I come to find out its highway 89 heading south out of Emerald Bay.
The road extends across a very narrow ridge line or shall I say isthmus between Lake Tahoe on the left and ahead and Fallen Leaf Lake on the right. The land all the disappears underneath you. The first time this section really caught me off guard but I’ve come to love it as it’s one of the closest highways that lead you to heaven.
But the downside of autumn is that it gets cold quickly once the sun goes down. Truth be told, that’s okay. The 5 o’clock ride is not about being an epic. It’s the 45 to 90 minutes needed to transition from the workday into the evening. For that, today’s ride did well.