Donner Summit From a Cyclist View
• 1,100 feet of elevation gain from Donner Lake to the 7056' summit.
• Approximately 3.2 miles.
• Fastest time on the leaderboard 13:05 held by Andrew Talansky.
With over 18,000 attempts recorded on Strava, Donner Summit has humbled more cyclists amid Tahoe’s history than any other local mountain pass. It tops out just over 7,000 feet, is known to throw surprisingly forceful and erratic headwinds across your wheelbase along with skin piercing hail or snow in the spring and summer. Depending on your timing you might catch the whistle of Mountain Chickadees, the rush of waterfall runoff, or the bull horns of eastbound train lines.
Donner Summit is no secret. It has been ridden by some of cycling’s greatest contenders dating back to Nevada’s Greg Lemond who, according to word-of-mouth, holds the unofficial record. It has been said that Lemond once sprinted up the 3.2 mile climb in his oversized big ring within the 12 minute range. A time within 12 minutes would claim the KOM title on internet leaderboards to date but did it really happen?
Lemond was no stranger to the area and Donner Summit was regarded as an add-on to his massive training routes that included other area mountain passes like Geiger Grade to Virginia City, Mt Rose, Spooner Summit, Monitor Pass and more in just one long day in the saddle.
Currently, the top time of record up Donner Summit is held by Andrew Talansky. A Truckee resident who has raced his bicycle within the great Tour de France on four occasions. Just beneath Talansky you can find many other top local heros and various elite professional athletes who have posted times throughout the top 50 and who ride and train on Donner Summit pavement on regular intervals.
The history of Donner Summit from a bicycle is being written day-by-day with each summit attempt. It remains a heritage route for cycling in the Sierra and is the most ridden and regarded route for Truckee area road cycling. 13 minutes is nothing to bat an eye at however, a steady conversational pace might prove more pleasant and more rewarding since the views of large granite outcroppings, Donner Lake and rainbow bridge will fill your heart and eyes equally.
Put this ride on your summer bucket list. For specific route details give us a call at the shop and we'll lay out some options. We also look forward to hearing your stories about your summit ride. If you want to share some details, do so by responding to this email. Enjoy the ride!