Top riders in bicycle tour |

Top riders in bicycle tour

Staff reports

Having been to the top of the world their respective sports, Franz Weber and Glenn Carano could have qualified as the celebrities of Saturday’s 10th Comstock Silver Century cycling tour. It was hard to tell, though. When they finished shortly after 2 p.m. at Mormon Station State Park in Genoa, they looked tired and satisfied, just like any of the other 226 participants in the ride.

Weber, a former world speed skiing champion, and Carano, a former backup quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys who went to two Super Bowls, weren’t out to compete on this day. They simply rode together for a 100-mile workout and, as it turned out, a dip in Lake Tahoe.

“We got on the top there on the Mt. Rose Highway and I said, ‘Franz, we’re going to be so close to Lake Tahoe, we’re not going to jump in?’ He said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to jump in.’ So we go down and about a half-mile north of Sand Harbor, we jumped in the lake,” Carano said, laughing.

Billed as “Nevada’s Historic Bicycle Tour” and sponsored by the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority, the 100-mile Comstock Silver Century retraced one of the favorite training routes once used by Washoe Valley resident and former Tour de France champion Greg LeMond.

The 100-mile route passed through Virginia City, up and over Geiger Grade, over the Mt. Rose Highway to Incline Village, along the east shore of Lake Tahoe to Spooner Summit. The route finishes down Highway 50 from Spooner Summit and on Jacks Valley Road back to Genoa — nearly 9,000 feet of vertical climbing.

“We’ve got people from all walks,” ride director Curtis Fong said. “There are a lot of attractions to this ride, I think. You have the climbing, so you have people who come do this to train for the Death Ride (on July 13). You also have the history of the area, and the tremendous scenery.”

Michael Sharp of South Lake Tahoe was happy to see the ride return from a two-year hiatus.

“I’m glad Curtis brought it back,” Sharp said. “This is a typical preparation for those who are fortunate enough to get into the Death Ride. I ride this every year to prepare for Death Ride.”

Sharp, 44, who completed the Comstock ride in a time of 5 hours, 38 minutes, is also preparing to compete at the Ironman Canada triathlon on Aug. 25.

For those who didn’t want to try and tackle the full century, 60- and 80-mile rides were also available. That was an attraction for Douglas County school teacher Paulette Irving, 38, who underwent ACL surgery in March after a skiing accident.

“Even someone like me with a knee injury can still participate,” she said. “It was definitely spur of the moment thing. I only got my bike a week ago and I only entered yesterday. My knee still isn’t ready to climb big hills yet, so I just went out to the rest stop and back again. That was perfect for me.”

Carano and Weber, both Reno residents, were part of a group of 10 friends who completed the tour together.

“Usually, we ride together Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 6:30 in the morning for about 30 miles, then we try to squeeze a weekend ride in,” Weber said. “We have families, kids and business, so we just do this for fun.”

This was the second attempt at the Comstock Century for Weber, a native of Innsbruck, Austria, who has lived in Reno since 1984 (he became a U.S. citizen in 1998).

“I forgot how beautiful this ride is,” he said. “Today was sensational. The ride was beautiful. The wind was minimal. And every time you go over Mt. Rose and drop down into the Lake Tahoe Basin, the lake view is sensational.”

Weber was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as “The fastest human on skis,” having set world speed skiing records in 1982, ’83 and ’84 (129.540 mph at Les Arcs). He was a six-time world speed skiing champion and won three overall World Cup championships before his retirement in 1985. He returned to compete in 1992 when speed skiing was staged as a demonstration sport at the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, and finished sixth.

Carano, 46, is now director of marketing at the Silver Legacy casino in Reno. He was a backup quarterback to Roger Staubach and Danny White on the Dallas Cowboys from 1977 to 1983. Dallas went to two Super Bowls and five NFC Championship games during that time. He also served on the Nevada State Athletic Commission from 1997 through 2001.

This was his first attempt at the Comstock Century.

“I had a blast. It was a big deal,” Carano said. “The Comstock Century is a real ride, especially when you add the Gold Hill climb,” Carano said. “Right around the railroad tracks at Gold Hill, it gets pretty steep. It surprised me. I miscalculated my thinking and almost didn’t make it.”