Leading up to this event I'm NOT scared of the amount of climbing --I'm scared of the f'n weather. A week before many in our club were supposed to do the climbing Sequoia Double Metric --it was rained out, but at the same time it rained in the Bay Area it snowed in the mountains. I ran around adding soup and hot coco to my food supply (staying at Sorenson's Cabin lodging for the event) and any warm cycling clothes I could find. It had been 29 degrees that Friday at 4am--my start time (though timed no mass start--you can start whenever you want)--and usually it never got out of the 30's until after 7am. Markleeville, where the ride starts near, is one of the lower elevation points in the area, it would be colder higher up.
Good news during the week, it was heating up--and more importantly the chance of rain was near 0%--sudden mountain rainstorms rained havoc on two of the Death Rides after I came in with the deluge accompanying a plunge in temperature. Though lots of snow in the mountains all the major passes were finally clear--though Blue Lakes Road, a snow park in the winter that does not have snow removal--would only partially be open. (A late arriving email from Alta Alpina Bike Club indicates that only 2.2 miles of Blue Lakes was open--so mileage would be added on later in the course; in reality Blue Lakes Road was open for 4.2 miles each way.)Driving up Highway 88 to the mountains if always fun. Starting in the foothill of the Gold Country surrounded with fields of Oak, it was 81 at Jackson, 2500', by 3000' it was 77, at 6000' 70 and snow was off on the side of the road. 7000'-67, 8650' (Carson Pass)-59. At Caples Lake--the rest area parking lot was buried in snow and the lake was frozen over. It was apparent there would be many "scenic water crossings" on this ride--hopefully none spilling over the road.
Breakfast at Sorensons--Protein Belgium Waffles. Leading up the Alta Alpina never had the hot weather where I easily shut off my appetite--and I came in +5 lbs more than I wanted to (+8 lbs more than my all time low adult weight from a year ago before my bike crash.) Actually been living on the same thing for 4 weeks--Hi-Protein Whole Wheat (Kodiak Mix) Waffles. Tired of not being to bring my favorite pre ride food to motels before doubles (as frozen waffles thaw out), got a cheap waffle iron and add to the Kodiak Mix: egg, peanut butter, pumpkin puree, protein powder and ground flax seed. Topped with thick Tillamook yogurt (below)
Relaxing in front of the Museeuw cabin.
Near Markleville is Sorenson's Resort full of rustic cabins--on the Death Ride it is impossible to get in, and when you pass on the Carson climb the parking lot is filled with people cheering you on. On the Alta Alpina the parking lot would be loudly quiet--but was the first time I had a chance to stay there, which was great.
As rode all week Thursday was an "off the bike day" so when I got up to the mountains I drove the course from the start up Kingsbury Grade--as starting at 4:00 I wouldn't see anything except my lights shining into the night for most of the 20 mile out to the start of the climb. Glad I did as the 20 miles seemed to go on forever in the car--and even thought not that many turns on this ride (road isn't marked), the trickiest section is at the beginning.
Also, my car must be getting old, I read accounts of Kingsbury Grade as being not that steep until near the end. A few times I had to throw my car into "3"--not a good sign.
Then it was down the Emigrant Trail, a side road with lots of rollers--all and all about 50 miles will have been put in just completing the 1st pass and getting to the foot of the Carson Climb.
Next day drove part of the beginning of the Course again, and then went up to ride Blue Lakes Road. Nice and warm at the beginning of Blue Lakes Road--hard to believe that the road was closed 4 miles in as a sign indicates. Figured I'd ride Blue Lakes twice--easy grade to the road closed section. Past the road closed barrier--clear clear clear as far as the eye could see. Almost the anniversary of riding Mt. Shasta last year when the same thing happened--I jumped the barrier and everything was fine for another mile--clear road with small snow drifts off to the side. Then the snow drifts started appearing in spots along the road and soon the road was tightly covered in snow.
Dr. Dave came up to Sorenson's late Friday and received a late email from Alta Alpina Cycling Club indicated that Blue Lakes Road would only be partially done--and backtracking across the Valley done in the dark at the beginning of the ride was now added on to get more miles. Dr. Dave's plan was to do four passes--he'd start at 7:30, ride down to the Emigrant Trail and meet me somewhere on it after I did Kingsbury, and we could do Luther--Carson--Blue Lakes--and Ebbets 1 together. Cool. Dr. Dave drove to checkin along the add on route--there we met up with Colin who is on the P-B-P track and did the Davis 300k in the rain when everyone else bailed. He's dedicated and no doubt will finish the course unless timed out. He's leaving at 3:30, so I hope to catch up to him around Ebbets--he's not a cold wimp like me so he wouldn't be changing clothes all day like I'll be doing--in fact he half joked that with a "warm 40 degree start" he might just wear a jersey and vest.
When no one was looking Dr. Dave grabbed and put on the 8 pass jersey.
Colin and Ashley and Dr. Dave at checkin, Ebbets or Monitor behind them, we'll be riding up into the snow.
All checked in--final prep is to figure out where I'm going to keep change of clothes. Wednesday had a high of 70, predicted high of 73 for the event, so weather pattern should be similar. On Wednesday 37 degrees at 4:18 in Markleeville, didn't get to 50 until 8:18. And Markleeville at 5,500' is almost the low point of the ride, it would be significantly colder at the top of the passes--most above 8,000'. Later, once the sun went down the wind rapidly picked up and temperature dropped from the 70 degree high at 5:18 to 58 degrees at 8:18, and best I could expect I'd be somewhere on Monitor for an hour or two after where it would be much colder.
Re the 37 degree morning and 40's on Monitor at night, I was going to start the ride looking like the Pillsbury Dough Boy--and send some excess clothes out to Monitor from Kingsbury and drop more excess clothes off at Sorenson's when I began the Carson climb (around the 50 degree mark.) So I started with: buff for head (replace with headband at Sorenson's), wool buff for neck, Swix Ski gloves (replace with regular glove liners at Sorenson's), knee warmers, knickers (replace with regular shorts at Sorenson's), ski socks with sock liners (replace with regular cycling socks and new liners at Sorenson's....) and arm warmers. Oh yeah, layers on the chest--7--long sleeve tee shirt (keep all day, which was a mistake), wool muscle tee shirt (off at Sorenson's), regular jersey, thin vest, long sleeve jersey (off at Sorenson's), thermal vest (send to Monitor from Kingsbury) and a thin rain jacket. I told you I'm a cold wuzz.
Wake up at 2:00 and pull into Turtle Rock Parking lot at 3:45--lots of moist air and it 38 degrees. Only a half dozen folks getting ready to ride at the 4:00 window--you can start any time from 3:30 to 5:30 though for timing purposes you have to declare when you'll start--but as no one checking one could sandbag and register for a 5:00 start time and leave at 4:00. Soon I'm off on the 3 long downhill rollers--have my 3 lights at 2100 lumens going full blast, and bundled up so I am not that cold until I stop to adjust my handlebar bar straps that are rubbing against the tyre. Luckily drove the course so ready for the fast right turn onto Diamond Valley Road--7 miles in the dark through high desert until the next turn. Eventually there is a little light in the direction we are cycling in--its shitty starting in the dark but what a great feeling seeing the sunrise. I stop a few times to take photo, about a half dozen cyclists pass me but I'm taking it easy--I just want to finish the 8 passes. Sun coming up over Nevada.
Though 1/2 the distance of a climbing ride is downhill--unfortunately the uphills take 5-6x longer than the downhills. Soon back down and now backtracking until I get to Emigrant Trail Cutoff.
Saw some cyclists going "the other way" on Kingsbury but except for half dozen riders who passed me on the flats and fewer that I passed, kind of strange being on an organized ride with so few cyclists. Going solo when two cyclist come by close and pass without saying anything--that gets my dander up and I catch up but recognize one guy as a usually top 5 finisher so I drop off as I see the duo continue down the valley--Mr. Top 5 sucking the other guys wheel the whole time.
On the Emigrant Trail--Carson Pass with snow ahead.
Near the Emigrant Trail water stop, my mile 48, Dr. Dave comes along resplendant in his orange rain jacket. He had started 3 1/2 hours after me and rode downhill a few miles from Sorenson's.
Put on rain jacket for downhill which we didn't need. Carson downhill is fast so can't ride in the shoulder, but enough traffic to to make either cars unhappy for being slowed down, or cyclists unhappy when passing cars zoom by too damn close. Turn on Blue Lakes Road none too soon--and I'm wearing 4 more layers than I did for "practice ride" yesterday.
Dave and I continued downhill for the Blue Lakes make up, Carson River Road--Diamond Valley Road--Airport Road. We started off having fun with a nice tailwind but eventually make a U-turn and are doing rollers in a cross/ headwind in sudden,y warm & dry air. Then its a dead end short but steep uphill on Airport Road. So while we lost 16 miles of Blue Lakes Road--where the scenery and weather is great, we got 20 miles of pain in the ass riding.
Another few steep sections and we get to the rest stop dug into the snow on the side of the road. Its 3:50--12 hours have gone by--mile 134. Haven't sat down at a rest stop yet--here I slump off into chair. No way I want to go down and then climb back up Ebbets 2--though Dr. Dave volunteers to do so with me if I want to keep pushing on. No--my ride is done. Spend about 15 minutes here-sun is out and snow walls block wind so not too cold.