The route around lake Tahoe is 71 miles long and has a total elevation gain of 4,200 feet according to my trip on Strava. The route follows the road.
The whole thing should take about 5 hours for the average person. I finished in 5:03 and had an average speed of 14.2 MPH. I did a lot of stopping to take pictures and eat (pausing my workout), and the real thing took about 7 hours.
The logistical hurdle with this trip is if you are renting a bike. Most shops in Tahoe do not open until 1000 and they close at 1700. So you have a 7-hour window to rent a bike, cycle the lake taking pictures, and return the bike to be rid of it. I did not accomplish this because I didn’t start until about 1200. Just beware of that.
To rent a bike for all day + holding overnight was $39 each with the Tahoe Bike shop in Kings Beach of Tahoe Vista. The owners name is Don, and he was very helpful giving us route maps, tool bags, his phone number, and even offering to pick us up if we gave up. A service I would never use because I am too stubborn. There is also a bus that you can take back to Tahoe Vista from Tahoma if you decide to quit 50-miles in.
I started in Tahoe Vista and rode clockwise so I could ride on the lakeside of the road. Most people do this for better views.
Vista to Incline has a 220-foot hill
Incline to Spooner has a 780-foot hill
From Spooner to South Tahoe there is a long downhill and is followed by pretty mellow 15-mile stretch of flats and small climbs.
Around mile-40 you’ll hit Emerald bay, which has a 600-foot climb followed by another 300-foot climb after a descent. This is the toughest part, but also the most beautiful so take your time and stop to take pictures.
After Emerald bay you are on the home stretch. There are a few mellow climbs and the road shoulder narrows, but there are bike paths you can follow if you like a bumpy ride.
I don’t think there is any “best place to start” because the 2 major climbs are at opposite ends of the lake. Emerald bay is at the “7 o’clock” and the Spooner climb above South Tahoe is around the “3 o’clock”. Either way you will hit one in the beginning and one at the end. Just man up and do it.
There is cell service the whole way so I carried my phone for pictures and emergencies.
I wore my hydration vest with 3-liters of water
I brought 2 bags of GU gummies
There are shops along the way so packing food and water is not important. If you are going to power through and go for time, plan food and water for 5 hours.