The Tour of the California Alps (aka, the Death Ride) this past weekend was AWESOME! (http://www.deathride.com) The views from the passes are amazing! Unfortunately we underestimated the time it took to get from my brother-in-lawís north shore house to Markleeville. The ride start time for people who planned to do 5 passes was 5:30 am. I wasnít able to get on my bike until almost 6:20 am, close to the start time for people who were only planning to do 3 passes. I was worried about time, so I started a little faster than I probably should have, but was feeling pretty good.
Monitor pass wasnít nearly as hard as I expected. I felt great and had a good ride to the start of the pass. I passed literally hundreds of people going up. As I was passing one guy, he glanced back and said to his friend ďI thought a car was coming up!Ē I was flying through some of those sections! I stopped to fill my bottles at the top and at the bottom. I felt great going up the back side also and continued to pass a ton of people. One person didnít estimate a turn correctly on the descent and went down, it looked like pretty hard. I didnít see him go down, but I saw the paramedics working on him as I was finishing the corner. I had slowed significantly on my approach so I didnít think I was in any danger going around it.
Ebbets was harder than I expected. The ride between the base of Monitor and the base of Ebbets is slightly up hill, but I was having a good ride across. Ebbets Pass definitely has the hardest grades and was the hardest climb. On one switch-back I looked at my inclinometer and it showed 17%, but that was only for the actual switch-back (maybe 20 - 30 feet). I felt pretty good going up it. Going down the back side was scary though. The road is single lane and the back side is not paved very well. I think I hit the first unexpected bump in the road at over 45 mph and just about wet myself. I slowed way down and got a firm grip on my bars. There were at least a half dozen spots that had significant bumps that werenít really visible, at least I didnít see them before feeling them. On the way back up my right inner quad cramped. I rode through the cramp, drank both bottles, ate a gel and tapered my speed off. I didnít have another cramp for the rest of the ride.
The wind really started to kick up after I finished with Ebbets Pass. I picked up a few riders going to the start of Carson, then jumped on with another small group. They stopped at the SAG before Carson started, so I went up alone. Itís a really long climb, especially with a head wind the whole way, but the grades werenít bad, so I made good time. At the top I was 50/50 on whether or not to do the optional Blue Lakes Pass. I was tired, but not fried. 90% of the ride back was down hill. I was still undecided when I left the SAG stop at the top of Carson. There were a couple of guys a little way in front of me as I was going down, so I decided that I would do the pass if they did it, damned if they didnít turn. Blue Lakes didnít have an elevation chart, so I didnít know what to expect. They made it cruel. You climb to the top, but no SAG. They put the SAG at the bottom of a Ĺ mile 9% grade, so you have to climb back out! Ouch! They gave me a Death Ride headband as the reward for doing the option and said that less than 50 people had come through at that point! Wow, out of 4000 riders what are the odds that the two guys in front of me on the way down Carson would turn, when less than 50 had done it all day?
The rest of the ride was pretty nice. Down hill for the most part with that wind now at my back for the most part (it did shift around quite a bit). I spent about 40 minutes at various SAG stops along the way and about 10 hours 20 minutes riding. Lots of significant climbing and some really technical, fun descents. Although I didn't really push any of the descents and just had fun on them. Overall, my kind of ride and Iím thinking Iíll do it again next year (unless, of course, I find something even harder!) J Hereís some quick stats I pulled from my Polar chart of the ride:
(The Death Ride is supposed to be 153 miles with 17,100 feet of climbing. I didnít do a wheel roll out prior to the ride and had put on new Michelin Pro Race tires for the ride, so that could explain why my mileage is off, but I donít know why the elevation is offÖ)
Death Ride Time in Heart Rate Zones:
Ride Time: 10 hr 18 min 25 sec
Copyright © 2005 by Mike Enfield. All rights
Revised: 04/06/09 11:29:49 -0700.