Which bike for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride?

Lee, this Saturday I have been invited on a trip to ride Mr Toad’s Wild
Ride in South Lake Tahoe. My question is “Which bike?”

1. 30lb Giant Trance with triple chains rings. 4″ at back and 5″ at front.

2. 36lb (stronger than stock wheels, cranks and ST Minions) Giant Reign with
a single 32 chainring and 6″ at back and 5.5″ up front.

Both bikes have Fox Shox front and rear (of course!). Both have a 34t
biggest cog on cluster.

I am very fit and a strong climber (resting heart rate less than 40bpm) but
am thinking that, even being fit, the Reign may be a little heavy in the
thin air. The reason is that I would prefer it for the downward run.
Everyone else on the trip is a similar speed to me, at least either up or
down the hills.

A one word answer (Trance or Reign) would be appreciated. Being sort of new
to this country, I don’t know anyone else that has done it.

Your devoted reader,


The more you click, the more I can post. Lee Likes Groceries dot com!

Hi Chris,

One word


Lots of words

Mr. Toads is an amazing descent preceded by a ball-buster of a climb. Even if you shuttle the ride, the descent is both technical and long. And there is very little air for a low-lander like you!

I do rides like this for the decent, so I am willing to drag a bigger, slacker bike up the hill. If you can’t clean the climb, who cares? Just get off and push.

My buddy Jim Norman and I rode Mr Road’s back in 2002:
Tour de California – Day 1 : Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, South Lake Tahoe

BTW, check out the rest of the Tour de California. This was the very beginning of Lee Likes Bikes!

Jim spins a mellow part of the climb.

Trickier part of the climb. This crew was going backward.

The top of the descent is steep and rocky. Me on a 2002 Enduro — back when I still worked for AltaVista. I thought I knew how to ride, but I had no idea …

The bottom is fast and flowy. This is why Mr. Toad’s has such a reputation. Your Reign will rip these turns!
16 replies
  1. Chris says:

    Thanks Lee. Unless it’s a cruel joke!

    I did read that 2002 story which is why I asked you. I didn’t think it warranted a post.

    I’d heard about this ride from Australia so it is one trail on my hit list while I’m here. Forget Disneyland! Porcupine Rim is the other super-famous trail and luckily that’s no too far away from NorCal. Oh, and Repack in Marin if only to pay homage to our sport’s roots.

  2. Brian B. says:

    I was just there a few days ago. You should also do Corral Trail which is just up the road from where Toads comes out. You have to ride, or have someone shuttle you about 2.5 miles up the road and Corral trail is on your left. Super fun trail with lots and lots of berms. You will come out on Powerline and hang a left and cruise for a short while and you will be back on the road again. I had more fun on Corral than on Toads.

  3. Bob says:

    The whole point of Mr Toads is to rip the downhill. So go big, that is big bike. Anyways, 6 lbs difference isn’t that much. Have fun and let us know how it went.

  4. Lor Riihimaki says:

    I rode Mr. Toad’s on my demo 9 which weighs in at a feathery 46-47lbs. I was able to ride it on 3/4 of the climb and it made the downhill that much more fun. I have done it on a 6″ travel bike and that was fun too. I wouldn’t want to have much less as the top is rocky and the bottom your speed just increases. 🙂

    I’m also interested in the trail Brian B. was talking about that is near Toad’s. Is it where you come out on the paved road or the dirt road? Thanks.

  5. Peter S says:

    Light Bike! Starting @ Stateline pedal up Kingsbury Grade to Heavenly, pick up the Tahoe Rim Trail, Ride High Sierra singletrack for several hours finishing with Toads as a final downhill. Long as Hell but with 20+ miles of awesome trail well worth it.

  6. Chris says:

    Well, I took the Reign. The problem was that the plan changed to a 40 mile ride as we thought 4 hours was too long to drive for a 20 mile ride. So we shuttled to Spooner Summit and did some very sweet singletrack along the Tahoe Rim Trail through Kingsbury Grade North, Heavenly, Star Lake, Freel Pass (9800ft, the highest I’ve ever been) and then to Armstrong Pass, which is the summit on the normal Mr Toad’s loop.

    I’d never ridden at altitude before (most of the ride was around or above the highest point in Australia). I suffered, but the other four on their 30lb bikes suffered too. Elevation is something else. The ascent from Heavenly to Freel Pass was brutal. But, like Peter S said, we got to ride some GREAT singletrack from there. We started waaaay too late in the day and had to be back to the Bay Area that night and by the time we hit Armstrong Pass it was 6.30pm and we were looking at 1am arrival home. So we decided bail on Toad’s and go down Corral (which I suggested in pre-ride planing as an extension of the Toad’s only loop as per Brian B, thanks!), which after the suffering we had all done, was a great end with everyone smiling. 7000ft of climbing, nearly 35miles of singletrack and 200 bike miles (5 guys x 40 miles), no injuries and the only mechanical was a slipping seat post that was fixed in seconds. Nice.

    I have to congratulate two guys we saw on the trail that had already done 50 miles by the time we saw them in Heavenly. They were half way through their ride. Animals!

    Next time, I’ll do the Toad’s only loop and then a lap or two of Corral if we are still wanting more.

    The Reign 0 comes out of the box at 30lbs and would have been a great bike but my one with beefier stuff on it wasn’t too bad and I will definitely take it next time.

    Thanks guys.

  7. leelikesbikes says:

    Don’t listen to Peter S.

    He is insane.

    I’ve been on enough 5-hour rides with him to know …

  8. Peter S says:

    Not Insane Lee, just too cheap to shuttle. Congrats on the new LIFE/Relationship, sounds to me like you’ve got all your, Ducks In A Row!

  9. m-dub says:

    I drove 8 hours to break in my new Nomad this weekend. Hit Toads and Corral. Toads was sooo dam sweet top to bottom, but man that air is thin up there (I live at sea level) and took some spark out of my legs on the climb but worth it. No breaking bumps and a mix of tech rocky and fast. Im still smiling. Corral, was like a mini Toads. Sweet log ride and burms for days. The last section has rolling moto whoops that with speed you can pump and dubble. Hit Auburn on the way home, Murders (over rated) and Cannel ( super fun). My 34.5 lb Nomad was spot on and blew my mind with its verstality ( like a mini DH bike that climbs like a heavier XC rig) You Nor cal guys/gals have some goood stuff. Got home and saw that the whole place is up in flames. God bless all who lost their homes.

  10. matt says:

    if u are all not aware tahoe has been struck by devastating fire and we have lost some trails but at least no lives were lost. but still many faimlys are now homeless

  11. Erik says:

    I like the responses about how you “need” 6″ of travel. Weren’t people riding Toad’s before we even had suspension?

  12. amy says:

    Erik, I agree. Toad’s is not so gnar you NEED a 6″ travel bike. I do that ride about once a week on less than that. I used to ride it on a big bike, but a smaller bike is really fun on that trail.

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