||Death Ride 2008
My DEATH RIDE, a tour of the California Alps. 129 miles, 15,100' of climbing.
Trust the name as it means just that: DEATH RIDE! The weather prior to and for the first half of the ride was beautiful; we soon learned how fast high mountain weather can change. Before I tell you about the late in the day, last climb weather change, I will tell you how it went from the start.
We arrived at our campsite on Topaz Lake the afternoon of July 10th. This campground was situated on the Nevada/California border about 45 minutes from the race site. On Friday at 1:30 p.m. we checked in for the ride at Turtle Rock Park, which is the start/finish line of the ride. Well, at least my buddy Ray did as I forgot my ride paper work, could not register, and did not receive my ride bib. I was not the only sad soul who had to return at 9:00 PM to claim my ride numbers and SWAG. Received some good stuff in the goodie bag: a bottle with the Death Ride logo on it, key chain with logo, Clif Bars, Cytomax, etc.
The alarm clock rang at 3:30 A.M. Saturday morning to welcome me to my 9 -hour day. I got out of bed and began my fueling ritual; I used my Ironman morning fuel plan which includes the following: two Ensures, one can full calorie Orange FRS, and one Vanilla Crisp Powerbar. After loading bikes and gear in the truck, Ray and I were off at 4:15. We had to be on CA highway 89 prior to 5:00 a.m., because the CHP closes Highway 89 and CA Highway 4 for almost the entire day. We arrived at the start/finish line at Turtle Rock Park, which is located approximately one mile North of Markleeville, CA.
The morning air was a little chilly, so we donned arm warmers and wind vests. We did not want to dress too heavy because we knew it was going to get warm as soon as the sun came up. At 5:30 A.M. we were off south through Markleeville and toward Highway 89 to begin our first climb. This was the West side of Monitor Pass, which is 11 miles long, 2814' of climbing, 8314' in elevation. Reached the top, first sticker earned for bib, then the descent down the East side of Monitor. The descent was Awesome! Approximately 10 miles, speeds that reached 55 mph and we were not pushing it. At the bottom we got our second sticker, u-turn, and climbed back up what we just descended, 10 miles, 3114' of climbing, back up to 8314'. Then another Sweeeeet decent.
At the base of Monitor we made a left hand turn and began the climb up the North side of Ebbetts Pass, 12 miles, 3330' of climbing, 8730' in elevation. This is where we observed the sign warning us of the 24% grade to come.
This was a very challenging climb of twisty, switchbacks and grades up to 18%. We reached the top, earned third sticker, filled bottles, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then descended the South side of Ebbetts. At the bottom, earned fourth sticker, u-turn, and ascended the South side of Ebbetts, 7 miles, 1730' of climbing and back to 8730'.
We then descended the North side of Ebbetts and headed back to Markleeville and Turtle Rock Park, which is the 88-mile point of the ride (41 miles to go).
As we hit the base of our last climb (Carson Pass), the weather changed and the heavens opened up on us. We had to climb 17 miles to the summit and had an average grade of 6%, 3180' of climbing and 8580' in elevation. When I say the heavens opened up, it was not just rain, but hail! Both Ray and I are sporting some pretty good welts on our arms and legs after riding for about 2 hours in that stuff. We suffered up the last climb and as I was 1 mile from the summit, I heard air leaking from my front tire. Luckily it was a slow leak and I was able to make it to the summit before it totally flatted. We received our last sticker , a sweet 5 pass pin, ate our ice cream bars (yes in the freezing cold rain), changed my flat and began our teeth chattering 19 mile descent to the finish.
In spite of all the pain and suffering, I would do it again! After completing four centuries and more half centuries then I can count, this was without a doubt the best supported and organized of them all. Closed roads, lots of stopping points with a vast variety of food and drink, and great food at the lunch and post ride BBQ.
Remember, dress for all types of weather and do not leave home without your registration!