Death Ride from Hail

Last Saturday was the Death Ride, also know as the Tour of the California Alps. It is a 125 mile ride with 16000 feet of climbing. At least that’s what they said but I had never been able to figure out how four passes with less than 3000 feet each and one of 1550 feet could add up to 16000.

Well, now I know: it’s a myth. My GPS recorded 14913 feet of climbing and I think MotionBased is even exaggerating a bit.

In any case, this Death Ride (my seventh) turned to be a memorable one. Because of the last 3 miles. That last climb to Turtle Rock Park (the start/finish) generally leaves you some memory, either becasue you cannot wait for this ordeal to be over, or because you’re getting thrilled with your accomplishment. This time for me, it was because lightning started to strike all around me with thunder that was so close that there was no delay between the light and the sound. Then it started to rain. And to rain more. And to pour. And to pour more. And then hail. I am actually glad I was climbing, and it didn’t happen during the fast descent that was preceding. I would have frozen.

Otherwise, apart from those last 15 minutes, the weather had been perfect. Not too cold, and more importantly not to hot, especially in Woodford Canyon, the part that precedes Carson Pass and where I suffered many times in the past. I had started ahead of Bill and Bart, so I only saw them when I was climbng back the parts they were descending at the same time: the back side of Monitor and the back side of Ebbetts.

In the end, that made a pretty dramatic ending for what maybe my last Death Ride. Because I am starting to feel a bit over it (one year might be enough to change my mind, though :-)) I saw a lot of riders with “Climb to Kaiser Finisher” jerseys and that could make for a change. We’ll see…