Death Ride 2009

I was oncall the week before the 4th through the weekend.  That translated to a lot of time on my rollers.  Not the best way to prep for a ride with 15,000 feet of climbing!  We had quite the vacation week planned.  Drive up to Las Vegas on Thursday (after a morning Bush Highway Loop ride), then a longer drive to Markleville for packet pickup and then to South Lake Tahoe.  After the ride, we headed to Magic Mountain for some roller coasters, a long drive back to Mesa to pack for a camping trip at Kinnikinick lake up near Flagstaff for the rest of the week.  2200+ miles of driving!  Ouch!

I was feeling pretty good for the start of the Death Ride.  I got to the start a little later than I wanted and left my car at around 5 minutes to 6am.  It was a pretty nice morning overall.  I took my time to the start of the first climb up Monitor Pass.  Lot’s of 6% grades.  I made pretty good time overall to the top where I got my first pass stamp and stopped to enjoy the refreshments.  They had little boiled, salted red potatoes.  Wow, those are my new favorite ride food.  Good stuff!  After filling my bottles I headed over the top for the fast descent down the other side.

There were a TON of people at the bottom, so I just got my second pass stamp, turned around and started for the top again.  About 70% of the way up I ran into John and Liz Mazzola who were on their way up on their tandem (sorry about calling you the Toussaints!).  We chatted for a bit, then I started riding my own pace up the hill again.  I made a quick stop at the water stop on the way up since I hadn’t stopped at the bottom, then continued back up to the top.  Sadly, they were out of those red potatoes, so I snacked on the more standard fare (nuts, orange slices, bananas) before heading down for another really fast descent.

Two passes down and I was still feeling really good and made quick time to the start of the Ebbets Pass climb.  In my opinion the front of Ebbets is the hardest climb on the ride.  It’s not as long as the other passes, but has the steepest grades and goes up to the highest point.  I started to suffer on that climb.  It’s a hard, hard climb.  When I was a couple miles from the top I felt a sudden sharp pain in my left knee … “What the???”  I backed off my effort and the pain didn’t come back, but then the altitude started to get to me.  I had a great ride over Monitor Pass, but not so much with Ebbets.  Couldn’t seem to catch my breath and just didn’t feel right when I got to the stop, so I just got my third pass stamp and continued straight over to get to a lower altitude.

I remembered from prior Death Rides that the back side of Ebbets is very rough in spots, so I took my time on the descent.  By the time I got to the bottom for my 4th pass stamp I was feeling a lot better.  But I decided to hand out for a while and recover some before heading back up the hill.  They had another unique item on the food table – oatmeal cookies with a slab of sweet cream cheese on them.  Man those were GOOD.  Ok salted boiled red potatoes or oatmeal cookies with sweet cream cheese…  MMMmmmm..  Hard call, but I think I preferred the red potatoes.

I was feeling good again when I started again, but forgot to re-sunscreen.  So I stopped shortly after leaving and reapplied sunscreen.  When I started up again, I had another of those sharp sudden pains in my left knee.  It hurt bad enough that I think I actually groaned out loud.  It didn’t seem to bother me if I just spun easily (thanks to my triple, that was possible), but when I tried to use power, I’d get that pain.  Not good at all.  I still have a number of rides I want to do this year and a knee injury would compromise them all.

I made it slowly to the top, then had a fast ride down again.  There as a pretty bad looking accident on one of the corners and I passed an ambulance on it’s way up a bit farther down.  The lunch stop was at the bottom.  They had wraps for lunch, but they didn’t look all that appealing, so I continued.  I was spinning easily, but wasn’t making very good time.  I checked the time and I still had almost 3 hours before they closed the checkpoint before the climb to Carson, so I had plenty of time to get there even at my slow speed.  I went into a mental debate on whether or not to continue.  “I could do some significant damage to my knee if I kept going.”  “I had plenty of time to finish, even at a slow pace.”  “There was still a lot of climbing left to risk serious knee injury. “ “I could still make it though.”  Then the wind picked up and spinning easily became more difficult.  Crap.  That finalized my decision and I decided not to continue onto Carson Pass.  So 91 miles with 4 passes completed.

And with this ride I “retire” my 2002 Trek 5200.  It’s been a great bike, has taken me on some of my absolute best rides and was my primary mode of transportation to work for several years.  Hopefully I’ll find a home for it with someone who will get just as much enjoyment as I got from it.

    1 comment to Death Ride 2009

    • Aunt Lee Bistline

      Hi! I did not read all of what you wrote, but will soon… good for you to do this… Thinking of you and yours… Love Aunt Lee