Death Riding

Jerome” s Motion Based info is very cool! I may have to take my cycling technophilia/geekness up a notch and purchase a GPS myself instead of always asking Jerome, Jaime and David what our elevation gain on a ride is. Personally, I am still waiting for a helmet-mounted camera with a shutter control wired into the gear shift though.

For those of you who have never done the death ride, don’t let the fact that a little rain (OK, a whole lot…Bart and I were soaked too when we got back to my car) fell in the last few miles deter you from signing up for the lottery for this AWESOME ride next year! According to Bart, this is the first time in about 10 years that it has rained at all. About 3,000 riders do the Death Ride, with some number just over 1/2 doing all 5 passes.

Aside from Jerome, Anne Hall, and Bart and I all completed this year’s DR. Jerome’s motion-based info gives you a good view of the profile and the map of the route, but it can’t give you an appreciation for how truly beautiful this part of the Sierras is.

Bart and I started riding about 6am and it was already light and warm enough to need nothing other than shorts and a jersey. In honor of the native alpine creatures, I wore my Cal Bears jersey, much to my Stanford friend’s chagrin. DR starts off deceptively enough with a steep descent of about 500 feet until the climb up Monitor Pass begins. Another one of the great things about DR is that Monitor and Ebbet’s Pass are completely closed off to vehicular traffic, so there are only other bikes, the occasional motorcycle sag (it’s quite a trip to see bikers on the back of a motorcycle with their bikes over their shoulders and emergency vehicles (happily we didn’t see many of those this year).

There are something like 16 food and water stops throughout the course and the support is really terrific. This has to be one of the best supported rides out there! Quite a deal for $80. In contrast, those who do the Tour du Organics this year will hopefully get more than a few artisanal peach slices for their $60 registration.

Almost all of the DR route is spectacularly beautiful. My personal favorites are the backside of Monitor Pass with its stunning views of the Carson Valley, and the front and back sides of Ebbets. While the grades through0ut the route are in the 5-7% range, some top out over 10% and there are two hairpin turns on Ebbets that are an impressive 24% (“trucks with trailers NOT advised”!) At times like these, oxygen is really over-rated.

Other highlights are the fun skeleton-themed stickers affixed to each rider’s number upon the completion of each pass, the red vines at the top of Ebbets, and the ride pin and ice cream provided at the top of Carson Pass for those completing all five passes. A well-deserved yum! This year we were fortunate enough actually have some tailwinds push us up Carson Pass heading west. As we started the descent from Carson Pass back to the starting area in Markleeville, ominous clouds were forming and a few bolts of lightning encouraged us to reach toward 50 MPH downhill in an effort to beat the rains. While Bart and I got soaked for the last 6-7 miles, we were lucky to have missed the hailstorm!! Good thing we got such a late start.

One thought on “Death Riding

  1. .. if you have the trail of the gps, routes or waypoints, of the Deathride please send them to me, I’m going to Alpine County possibly tomorrow!

    I was on the skeleton crew in Hermit valley (I was the loud one 🙂 ), glad you enjoyed the ride.

    I missed the peaches in Tour dOrganic and yes it was not that good of a deal but a fine ride none the less.



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