Death Ride, July 2004

I had an old entry for the Death Ride, that I didn't use in 2003. After some negociations with the race director, I was allowed to enter the ride. 5 hours to drive 220 miles from San Jose (friday evening traffic in the Silicon Valley...), and I was in Markleeville, close to Lake Tahoe. Incredible - the ride is said to have 3000 participants, and for sure plenty of people were there, on friday night in Turtle Rock park. People sleeping in their trucks, in tents. Others testing their bikes, chatting about the ride, buying jerseys or eating a late-night dinner. A crowd was sitting in front of the ride office, waiting for 10pm in order to buy the spots of the no-shows. And riders would continue to arrive during the whole night, stop and sleep on the side of the road near the start.

All this to participate in an insane ride. 129 miles, 15000ft of climbing. 5 passes. Essentially this means spending your day suffering on climbs. While I really liked the scenery and appreciated how well the ride was organized, I'm not sure I really enjoyed the day. The climbs were hard, I climbed most of them below 5mph, as I had not trained at all. And the downhill were scary (I crashed last week, now anything scares me). Not only because of the slope, but because you always had to be careful with the cyclists climbing the other way. Good thing the road was closed to vehicles !

In the end, I completed only 4 passes and 11000ft of climbing, as I was a bit short of time for the cutoff for the last pass. This was already better than I expected considering the altitude, how little training I had done, and my crash from the previous week. Next year I'll finish.

Is this how I will look after the ride ?
They advertise it as scary... and it IS scary
6am - I've been climbing already for more than 1 hour
Sunrise on a nice landscape
Reaching the first pass
People put windbreakers on before the downhill
Beginning a 3000ft downhill...
... to Hwy 395, close to Nevada
Several hours later, back to Monitor Pass
The rest stop is very crowded now. It's 9:30am
Starting the 3rd climb - the sign doesn't look promising...
Following a river
And following plenty of other riders
Halway up the climb. Paradise ? no, Hell !
Pictures don't show, this is steeper than 12%
Massage, water, snow. I skip all of it.
12:30pm, top of Ebbett's Pass
A huge number of cyclists who finished 3 or 4 passes
Bottom of the 4th climb.
I stop to take a picture on this side
On the downhill - somebody went too fast and hit the wall
Lunch stop, I skip
Will I make it in time for the cutoff ?
Back to the start
15:44, this is late, and I'm dead. Let's stop.
Not doing the proud guy - I need more training !
Thanks to Vance for letting me borrow his rear wheel