Sunday, July 12, 2009


(July 11, 2009) The Death Ride, 129 miles, 15,000-16,000’ depending what you read. Rode parts with Johnna. 5:03-2:35 to top of Carson while taking @50 photos, 13.4 mph avg. (**329 rating**)

To view all photos of the Death Ride course (and sometimes bonus pass Blue Lakes Road which we did as a preride) click HERE
5th time doing official* Death Ride and doing all 5 passes.** Arriving at Carson (5th pass)photos-2004 stoked that did it for the first time (then on to Blue Lakes Road), 2005-hammered the course against the clock, 2006-back and foot problems had me barely surviving, 2008-enjoyed this trip after skipping 2007 (did Climb to Kaiser instead) Photos from Wildwest Images (*2003 did 4 pass self supported Death Ride, **2004 did 6 passes as bonus pass-Blue Lakes Road, offered)

Went up a few days early with Donna, who hopes to do 5 passes, though she really just started base mile training a month ago and needed another month of serious climbing mile training. My game plan is if she goes up Carson, the 5th pass, I’ll go up with her for my 6th pass.

Drive up is great—same route as we did earlier in the week to Sutter Creek, then beyond. Highway 88 leaves the hot valley at 1,000’—pine trees suddenly surround the road at 3,000’ with the temperature dropping 3 degrees per 1,000’, Snow sticks on the side of the road at 4,000’ and the air smells so differently, great views off to the side at 6,000’. At 7,000’ we start seeing glimpses of mountains dotted with snow—and we keep climbing to 8,000’. The Death Rides low point is @5,500' and every pass is above 8,000'--so while the climbs aren't hard the oxygen debt while looking at snow caps is very different.

In any event nice studio at Kirkwood, which always beats a motel room. Last year we got a unit with a mini fridge that didn’t work great, so pre made bottles didn’t do well. This year we just bring powder to mix up in the mountains, so unit has TWO stainless steel mini friges that are almost as cold as an icebox. Great steak meal at the rustic Kirkwood Inn with a real low ceiling—the rest of the time we will cook in the unit.

Day before we take an ez 24 mile ride on Blue Lakes Road—the sometime 6th pass of the Death Ride. Blue Lakes Road is beautiful and much different than the regular Death Ride passes. The road dead ends to a little campground, lake, with no intersecting roads, so going inbound there is an occasional camping pickup truck passing every 10 minutes, and outbound there is almost no traffic. The first 10 miles is a very gradual climb, albeit slight headwind, and the last 2 miles kicks up a little but nothing severe. The beginning of the ride is just past endless meadows and forest, with views of the mountains on the second half. And as almost all downhill with tailwind the return trip takes half as long as the first half. Today there was a chilly breeze all morning, which got me thinking about knee warmers for the next day This ride is mostly unknown, we saw a dozen cyclists on it, we saw many more circling Kirkwood or riding the regular Death Ride passes with loads of traffic.

below (1 & 2)- Donna on sometimes bonus pass, Blue Lakes Road--yep that's snow on the hills to the side. (3)- I'm on the last climb inbound. (4)-The monument--this year in patriotic dress, right before the campground turnaround.
During the day talked about this being the last Death Ride. The Alta Alpina club that was divorced from the Alpine Chamber of Commerce a couple of years back from co- sponsoring the Death Ride, now offer a month earlier an 8 pass double or do as many passes as you want. From all accounts the initial run was nicely supported, unfortunately the weather was unseasonable terrible. As registering for the Death Ride has become a clusterfuck (spending 30-40 minutes on the computer trying to get through), and starting has 3,000 cyclists of varying ability screaming downhill and blocking the road—an alternative doing the same passes would be nice. Hell, by doing the Alta Alpina 8 I wouldn’t have to do Eastern Sierra, Terrible 2, or the Death Ride.

Can’t do anything about registration, but Donna starting in the dark w/ lights at 5:00, and I figured I might as well also to beat the 5:30 land rush—and to make up for taking loads of photos. Figured I might as well do something different on this ride and document the course.

After Blue Lakes Road we went to registration where my past comparison of the Death Ride to a Rolling Stones concert at a stadium (as opposed to Climb to Kaiser being like a Patti Smith concert at a small venue) holding strong. Half the Death Ride is the actual ride, the other half is getting Death Ride coffee cups, Death Ride tee shirts, Death Ride jerseys and other swag. Stuff from past years being sold on the 'cheep' but you need to be an XS or a XXXL. Registration was very smooth but the clothing line didn’t move—Donna almost doubles over when we almost get to the front, a half hour later, and guy in front of us tries on 3-4 different Death Ride hats to see which one looks better. We were there midday and they were already out of Death Ride arm warmers, Johnna later reported that they were out of Death Ride woman’s small sleeveless jerseys. (Volunteer did try to console Johnna of 11x23 gearing and finishing the Death Ride a half dozen times that IF she was able to do all the passes they’d have a Death Ride woman’s small sleeveless FINISHERS jersey.)

Over to crowded Markleeville for a good deli lunch—thought it took 30 minutes for the sandwiches to get made. Donna made a good call and we walked a half block and ate on the deserted Alpine Courthouse sloped lawn—tomorrow it would be jam packed with folks cheering as Death Riders went past.

Great doubles training is waking up at an ungodly hour for a bike ride—Kirkwood is 35 minutes away from the start of the Death Ride, and we woke up at 2:55am. Packed and in the cars at 4:05am—cars loaded with bikes had already been leaving 10-15 minutes earlier. (On Thursday Kirkwood had almost been deserted, maybe a dozen cars spotted but on Friday loads of arriving cars loaded with bikes and cycling gear.) Breezy but 63 degrees. Driving down Carson Pass which is incredibly dark—hmmm, maybe Alta Alpina 8 not a great idea for next year as this is when they start their ride. Eventual turn to Turtle Rock Park, 6 years ago most people parked in the Park and I could score a good spot on the road (road parking tactically better) but last year park was closed and now most people park on the road shoulder. Even though very early a volunteer waved us to a spot on the shoulder ¼ mile away—we’d later see more spots closed to Turtle Rock Park but, oh well.

Heard Big Mike laughing at me for being overdressed so luckily took off the knee warmers; today would be much warmer than yesterday. On Blue Lakes Road yesterday I was happy I had a tee shirt under jersey on at noon, today I’d take off the tee shirt before 9am. Put on helmet light and blinker so I could start at 5:00, before first light at 5:30. EZ roll out the ¼ mile to Turtle Rock Park where huge stadium lights were on with a crowd gathering for the 5:30 start.

To Monitor
Death Ride starts with a fast 3 mile downhill to Markleeville and the 5 miles of rollers to the start of Monitor. What an Fn joy it was this year, it wasn’t THAT cold and at 5:00 only 10% of the cyclists on the road as at 5:30, so no screaming on your left when someone slowly riding 4 across doesn’t move the first two times you call out, or folks weaving in and out. Also no huge slowdown when we get to the checkpoint at the base of Monitor—not only are cars stopped but anyone not wearing at Death Ride number (until noon.) Sun not up but light enough to see beautiful valley with stream running alongside.

Up Monitor 1
Monitor is Mt Diabloesque, real steady grade, nothing severe, about 9 miles to the top. I had planned to take it easy, but my competitive nature had me passing anyone ahead of me. On Monitor 1 only one cyclists passed me and stayed away, and I rode up consistently with two guys—but recognizing that the hammerheads would be starting at 5:30. One was on an old carbon Trek Y-Foil, which I wanted when I bought my GT @1997. Guy commented that it is his most comfortable bike, and he just pulls it out for century rides. Again, with only 10% of the cyclists on the road it was great not having to dodge traffic and ride on the left side when road was fully blocked. Today no one coming down yet except for one cyclist who looked real slow—he must have started at 3am.

I also found out that taking photos ruins my cadence—digging camera out of jersey pocket stuffed with Hammer products/ tums/ sunscreen, vest, and two bags of HEED (only deadly Cytomax offered), and Cliffshots. Then getting wrist strap around my wrist, the turning it on, then trying to compose photo while riding in a semblance of a straight line. The guys I were riding with were steady, and after I pulled out the camera I’d have to dig to catch back up to them.

Below-(1)- Reaching false flat on top of Monitor, note wide road/ expanse compared to Ebbetts and we are NOT climbing that hill to the left. (2)-Looking back on Monitor 1.

Seemed quick to false summit and then valley where it seems that climb is up another 500’ but drop down through sticker area, and rest stop. I went past rest stop but stopped at Monitor tombstone for a Sierra Club dedication and to take some photos, ready to leave when some nice old time pulled up and volunteered to take my photo. A little after the rest stop the real top of Monitor.

Vest on, camera in protective case, and started down the long gradually undulating other side of Monitor. Again, with only 10% of the riders out, and typically slower than the ones starting later, only a few people tearing it us and cutting in and out. Many nice “empty pockets” to feel comfortable—I actually passed a bunch of people on the downhill, though more passed me. Many people did call out “on your left” which is greatly appreciated. 19 enjoyable minutes to the bottom—big change from 2004 when I was scared shitless. Half way down GREAT view of Topaz Lake and the valley floor below. Joke is at the bottom you get your second pass sticker as there is really only one way back. (unless you take a long circular ride on Highway 395.)

Up Monitor 2
I had skipped first rest stop (I’d skip all top of Mountain stops) and had now been riding for 2 hours on half a bottle of Perpetuem, Heed and a Cliffshot (great as makes you drink) so took some time at the base to fuel up with a banana and fig newtons, and top off the strong bottle mixes. Also a few photos so left 13 minutes later, which is the longest I’d had stopped here since 2004. At base of Monitor and rest stop--now have to climb back up Monitor 2.

Start riding up and hear someone call my name, it’s Super Johnna, who had started at 5:30 and blew off the first two stops. She was riding her usual flatland gearing 11x23, no surprise here this is what she rode on my backwards Sierra Century with steeper climbs. She was riding with a guy in a Stanford Jersey—no wonder all the Diablo Cyclists patriarchs, all bleeding blue and gold, don’t do this ride any more. We started bsing when another person yelled out my name, it was Donna’s friend Tina, so the camera got more use. Actually here the photo shots were more difficult—side to side I can frame a photo pretty well, but now riders were screaming down Monitor so wanted to stay far away from the center line, and half of the time aiming the camera backwards I just got a nice shot—of the ground. Starting up Monitor 2 while cyclists are screaming down other side of the road. This isn't bad--soon the other side will be jammed with cyclist, many on the yellow line. I try to stay far to the right on the climb back up.

Johnna, Stanford Guy and me are setting a nice pace, often having to loop pockets of slower riders. Once in awhile someone would fly by—usually in a pink jersey (yes, for some strange reason the three cyclists who flew by on climbs today were wearing pink jerseys.) Some other riders would slowly go by but I’m not chasing—it’s 8 miles to the top and steeper than Monitor 1, and I have a 50%/50% chance of doing Carson twice today—Donna dependant. But then a guy on a Cervelo shoots by—ON THE RIGHT-without saying a work. He gets about 25’ ahead of us but that’s it. I want to take a picture of Topaz Lake, and an ideal spot is coming up, so I put a dig in to shoot by the guy, then pull the camera out for some photos—by the time I’m done Johnna is back and we continue up the climb.

Below (1 & 3)-How is Johnna smiling while climbing Monitor 2 with a 11-23 cassette. (2)-The beautiful view of Topaz Lake. (4)-We're approaching the running water boys half way up Monitor 2 (the composition & perspective of this photo taught at the Ward Industries Co-ed Cyclist Photo School)

A little more than half way up pass the running team that will grab a bottle and fill it up while you’re still on the bike. I haven’t been drinking enough and no need for a refill. We soon hit the county line were the climbing changes to small rollers. I love this part, and went out hard as wanted to take another photo before the downhill and expected to be passed by Johnna on the downhill—but she must have stopped at the top as I wouldn’t see her again until the end of the ride.

The downhill on this side of Monitor a little straighter, but a sheer cliff on the right so chance of falling rocks on the road. Again, passed by many—and was happy to get the “on your left shoutout”, as I yelled out to the few I passed. Cool descent until the end when some numbnut tandem flies by ON THE RIGHT without saying anything. Damn am I pissed and I plan to get back to them on the slight uphill leading to Ebbetts and give them an earful and photo them for this site. But at the bottom it looked like co-ed stoker had to put on makeup as they pulled off to the side and she got off the bike—when I went by I yelled out “ON YOUR RIGHT.”

To Ebbetts
From coming off Monitor to the top of Ebbetts is 14 miles, but the climbing doesn’t begin for 5 miles and the serious climbing a couple of miles after (by Silver Creek Campgrounds.) And here the climbing is serious, with many double digit hairpins, and a few short sections of the road that kick up. Not the OH WOW views as on Monitor, but though this is ostensibly Highway 4 the center line soon disappears, the road narrows and it is like riding on a bike path (road closed to cars though there wouldn’t be many) through a pine forest. And lots of people sitting on the side of the road cheering--nice weather made it the biggest turnout I remember. Cheering campers on Ebbetts 1 near Silver Creek-the road is about to kick up.

But first was pulling into the lunch stop, now just setting up for when we return, to take off undershirt and arm warmers. No place to put them in stuffed pockets, so tee shirt tied to the right side of the handlebars, arm warmers to the left. Also downed a Cliffshot to get some carbs and promote drinking,. Funny, no impetus when back on the road and passed by many cyclists, A few miles up the road was the regular rest stop where I took another 5 minutes to down a Cliff Bar and banana.

Ebbetts 1
Its about 7 miles of many double digit grade sections—especially the hairpin turns. I’m yelling out “HIT ME” whenever one come up (I was also yelling it out when we got pass stickers plastered to our jersey number) to stand. The 7 miles is a long grind, and kept passing and then being passed by someone wearing a Sierra to the Sea jersey—the ride that clubmates Stephen and June love to do. Start talking to Eric who rode with Stephen and June on the multiday tour, he’s from the Truckee area and a real strong climber. We rode up bsing together passing loads of cyclists (Eric took a little off so I could stay with him.) Before I knew it we passed the “massage therapist” setup on the side of the road—only 1 mile to go where the road kicks up. I couldn’t stay with Eric but passed other riders with no one else coming up. While Monitor has a wide expanse at the top Ebbetts to is tiny, and it was jammed with cyclists stopping and hanging out at the rest stop. Being a whimp I put on my vest and quickly started the downhill.

Below (1)-Rode up Ebbetts 1 bs'ing Eric, a strong climber from Truckee. (2)-Steep narrow grade to the top of Ebbetts .

The downhill is twisty and while most of the roads on the Death Ride are nicely paved, this one is not the best. Now, it would be the best road in Napa or Sonoma County, but here it does have some ruts and rough spots. Some people do fly by but I’m so far in front of the ride not that many cyclists come down. Only 11 minutes later and pull into Hermit Valley. “HIT ME”—get sticker #4, though have only done 3 passes.

Hermit Valley is my favorite rest stop, usually my first serious one where I actually sit down. It’s 62 miles into the ride. Up ahead is the short but ultra steep Pacific Grade, a some times Death Ride bonus pass (which we did in 2003 on our self supported Pumpkincycle 4 pass Death Ride.) To the side is an open meadow, forest and then towering cliffs. Really peaceful. Time to refresh my drink mix with a bag of Heed. PBJ sandwiches being made off to the side, I go over with a special request. I just want a slice of bread—workers joke that they real thought they’d have to make something special. Now real warm. Also grab a soda, aware that I haven’t been drinking enough. If they had a lounge chair here I might call it a day, but after 15 minutes I leave, which is par for all my other years except for 2005 when I was riding for time. Hermit Valley-real quiet and peaceful--first real rest stop of the day. If there was a lounge chair I probably would have stayed.

Ebbetts 2
Probably the most pedestrian pass. Only 6 miles, steeper than the Monitors but not as steep as Ebbetts 1. Forrest not as densely paced to the sides as Ebbetts 1. And now hordes of cyclists are screaming down the other side of the road, so you have to pick your chance when passing someone. Started yelling early as on guy coming down was almost to the edge of the side we were riding up—“MOVE OVER ASSHOLE.” Again passed easily by some guy in a pink jersey. Are old Giro Italia winners doing this ride?

Sight of the day—guy doing ride with gym shorts and underwear—gym shorts are sagging as well as any ghetto high schoolers. Passed before I thought of taking a photo and didn’t (luckily) have another opportunity.

I’[m going at a good pace, but not a killer pace, as still don’t know if this is a 5 or 6 pass ride. But again it seems that I arrive at the top with little difficulty, and earn the sticker I got when I started the climb.

below (1) Climb up Ebbetts 2 is narrow, with nice vistas to the right. Luckily no cyclists coming down when photo taken (2) To of Ebbetts is now crowded with cyclists bothing coming up Ebbetts 1 & Ebbetts 2. Down Ebbetts and back to Markleeville
The Death Ride gets its name not from the 5 hard climbs, but from the FN downhill on Ebbetts 1. Earlier, when I was climbing with Truckee guy we’d bs side to side but be very aware of anyone coming down, and yell out a warning and ride close to the right side of the road. When we were passing cyclists we’d pass front and back so we were never 3 across.

Now the hordes were coming up, around hairpins, and riding 3-4 across the road. I yelled at someone who was again almost on our side, but to calm down I ducked behind someone who was going downhill at a good steady pace. Here the “on your lefts” picked up, as there wasn’t much room to squeeze by. I also kept a lookout for Donna, here is where I saw here last year coming up but must have missed spotting her. Also saw some guys riding a weird bicycle. Looked like a NordicTrack and it was propelled by their stepping up and down.

Soon the fast straightaway to lunch where it feels great to spin—one guy shoots past and I draft behind him. Get to lunch, mile 80, at 11:45—a little slower than in past years considering I left 30 minutes earlier, but I had never shot a few dozen photos before. They have premade wraps so I grab on in its early stage and take it apart to remove the lettuce or anything else I could taste on the next 50 miles. Ready to leave in 10 minutes and I run into---Donna, she is having a lousy day. Had an early flat and got a bad case of altitude sickness. She’s just going to ride up to Silver Creek and then turn around. Feel bad for her, but now I know we wouldn’t be doing Carson 2x and I can open it up.

Turtle Rock Park is 10 miles away, with some rollers and then the steep uphill from Markleeville—with the wind picking up constantly changing from headwind to tailwind. Just before 12:00 I pass the Monitor Junction, cars are stacked up on the road as the highway is set to open at noon. In fact, now the remaining roads will have traffic on them. (above) Cheering folks on Courthouse lawn and drum group greet us in Markleeville

I catch a few riders, but if I catch them they are two slow to paceline with. Some folks sitting around and cheering off to the side, which would now become a common occurrence. Come around the curve into Markleeville and the Courthouse lawn is packed with folks cheering, and a drum group is playing nearby. Long drag uphill past Turtle Rock Park where I finally spot my car. Grab two new cold premade bottles of Heed/ Perpetuem, down another half bottle of cold Perpetuem on the spot, and eat a rice pudding, one of the most easily digestible carbo laden foods when its hot, you're climbing, you're going anaerobic—all 3 conditions when the body stops wanting to eat. Johnna and Stanford guy fly by—figure there are 2 rest stops coming up and they’ll at least stop at one, by tradition my car is the last rest stop until I get to the top of Carson. Get rid of extra clothes—full sun out so only carry a vest.

Up Carson
Its now 18 miles to the top of Carson. The long climb is only 14 miles, first is a 4 mile downhill to the turn to Highway 88-Carson.

As I turn onto Highway 88—I swing wide of the Woodfords driveway with the next rest stop. Most cyclists are turning in but a woman follows my wheel and comments “it looked like you were planning to skip it too.” I think her name was Laura(?) (I’m terrible with names), but we had ridden in together at Davis and she had just also completed the Terrible Two. We bs about how the climbs we regularly do don’t get us ready for the 16-18% grades on the Terrible Two.

(Terrible Two difficulty rating 501, Death Ride 329--strict translation, you'd have to do the Death Ride x 1 1/2 to have it equate with the Terrible Two. Real world translation--I had to take the elevator at work 4-5 days after the Terrible Two, on first day back after the Death Ride I was using the stairs at work all day.)

Meanwhile the typical Carson headwind is blowing, which prevents me from standings as much as I want to, but I’m happy. In 2006 & 2008 no wind at all and thunderstorms formed on the way down.
above (1) Start Carson with woman (Laura?) I finished the Davis Double with. (2) Steepest part of Carson is at the base of the climb--note cars now on the road. Note how blue and beautiful it is now--in 2 hours it will be gray and raining. below (3) Carson flattens out by the Luther Pass cutoff but the headwind will kick in. (4) I tried to help Nico Matten on the flat level part but he just wanted to ride in front of me--great, then I dropped him when the road kicked up. (5) After Blue Lakes Road cutoff grade kicks up again.

Besides the headwind the shallow grade of Carson is deceptive. The beginning of the climb is steep and so is the end. The middle portion—between Luther Pass Cutoff and Blue Lakes Road cutoff, is almost level.

When the wind would die I’d stand and pick up the pace. Where’s Johnna?? She’s a real good climber but I should have spotted her. I don’t so I keep the pace high—this is reminiscent of me trying to catch up with Jack in 2006. I start to get worried as sky is suddenly dark—OH SHIT—thunderstorms forming.

Soon go by Pickets Junction rest stop—look in and spot 1st time Death Rider Chris who went on some training rides with me, Jack and Ward. She looks happy—and give her a big thumbs up—I know she’ll finish the top now 9 miles away. Now on the level section of the ride and get into the drops, when Nico Mattan, a rider in a full Cofidis kit shoots by, I get on his wheel. When he starts to fade I go to the front and pull but Nico doesn’t like that and he goes quickly back to the front—OK, I get to play Johan and draft and when we go past the Blue Lakes Road cutoff and the road kicks up I jump on ahead and never see him again.

It is now getting windier and windier, but its also sunny again . I try to catch some riders in the front so we can paceline up—but when I catch them they are going to slow and I jump forward. Where’s Johnna and the Stanford guy??? A guy with a pink jersey flies by—too fast for me. Isolated people off to the side sitting and cheering us on. Cars passing often—maybe one every 30 seconds, but Highway 88 either has a shoulder or wide enough for the car to safely pass on rider.

I’m isolated in the wind and am soon dead. I then get passed by the strangest sight. A big guy wearing cleated sandals on oversized pedals is standing on his bike and slowly comes by but also slowly puts more and more distance between him and me. The way he’s hammering the pedals I thought he was on a fixed gear—but he wasn’t. As slight girl is riding directly behind him. I decide to also stand in the wind and catch up to him and we briefly talk about my coffee bike , also set up for sandals. But I can’t keep standing and he just powers away from me and the woman who was on his wheel.

About one mile to go when we reach the long left handed turn under a steep rock wall. I’m toast as I sit and spin in x27, and a half dozen riders pass. One comments “oh, you’re finally in the large cassette,” which was first time all day. They pull about 200’ past when all of a sudden the wind dies—as soon as it is perfectly calm I jump out of the saddle and catch up and pass the group.

Sharp right turn, crosswind, almost there but I screw up the finishing photo. Riders about 100’ up and then one 50’ up but fading fast. I want to stay well back of anyone ahead to get good finishing photo, but no matter how I slow down guy in front of me is slowing down more. I pass the last photographer, usually my favorite photo, right on the butt of the guy in front of me.

Carson is breezy and cool but I’m burning up. All I can eat is an ice pop. From 2004-2008 it has taken me 1:44 to 1:53 to reach the top of Carson from Turtle Rock, this year it took 1:47 with a stiff headwind. I put pumpkin insignia at bottom of 5 pass poster. Johnna soon pulls in, she had pulled into the last rest stop and saw me go by. She’s jazzed about finishing another Death Ride. They have some plastic Adirondack chairs set up and we see one collapse and rider land on his back, worker says “there goes another one break,” I say “now it looks like a recumbent rider” to laughs. Chris then rolls in, she’s stoked, says my ride reports description of the course really helped her.

(above) By Death ride Poster (below) No, I'm not with podium girls at the top of Carson. Even better--Multi time 5 pass rider Johnna and first time 5 pass Death Rider Christine.
Long downhill and ride is essentially over but portends trouble later on. As I’m going down Carson-Highway 88 loads of riders coming up. Many riders NOT riding single file, but in large mobs—so cars passing them uphill are coming into lane of downhill traffic—at one point car 100’ feet in front of me has to slam in his brakes and I almost wind up in his trunk. Strange crosswind at the foot of Carson, where riders are still first starting the climb. Right turn and 4 miles of uphill back to wherever the car is parked—lots of cars had to park 2-3 miles from the start. One guy comes along and we start hammering each other but luckily we start talking and then just pace each other—he’s a pilot and he’s going to ride to the airport to go home right after this.

Donna waiting at the car for a couple of hours—she’s disappointed in her ride. Under full sun we do the ¼ mile trek to Turtle Rock Park for a good fajita fest with some blue grass band that isn’t to Donna’s or my liking so we sit on the isolated other side of the building. Johnna finds and joins us—apart from riding an 11x23 she slept in her car overnite and is driving home right after this. Unfortunately, Schwans became a sponsor this year so instead of gourmet ice cream they only have very pedestrian bars or cones.
Yep-a few riders did the Death Ride on that strange machine.

All of a sudden the sky gets dark quickly, it gets cold, and the wind really kicks up. I know what’s coming. Quickly say goodbye to Johnna and Donna and I start speed walking to the car. Its now very cold and half way there it starts to rain—luckily not as hard as 2006 or 2008. I pull out a rain jacket so I can secure the bikes and we start back to Kirkwood in a moderate rain.

As a result of last year, when folks were wearing garbage bags on Carson, the Death Ride organizers gave out rain ponchos this year—but cheaper rain ponchos couldn’t be found, they look like the plastic covering a dress that was dry cleaned. As we drove up Carson we saw many riders coming down, with their wedding dress flying behind them.

When we started Carson only an isolated rider was still going uphill, but when we got to the top third we ran across large groups of cyclists—many still not riding single file but riding in a bulging pack. The road was still very wet but luckily the rain had stopped. At one point one cyclist was riding right in the middle of the highway, when safe to pass we did on lane going downhill but we rolled down the window and Donna yelled “are you trying to get killed?” You could easily see why cars get pissed with cyclists all over the road.

Another Death Ride. Looking back the best Death Ride ever. Weather perfect. More importantly NOT stuck in the crowds and had a good person to ride up the longer climbs which made them seem much shorter.

And another asleep by 8pm. Do I really want to wake up at 1:30 am to do the Alta Alpina 8 next year? or do I want to hold on the telephone for 45 minutes to get into the Death Ride?

1 comment:

mjj said...

Great write-up, felt like I was there, which I wish, but too much time away from home and my wife isn't motivated to even try do the Death Ride. I'd suggest you try a rear-view mirror to deal with all the assholes who don't call out when passing you. I feel blind without one now. Alta Alpina for you next year for sure! See you on Tam.