Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Bike Ride Called The Death Ride? Yes!

Image a bike ride 129 miles long, with five climbs up mountain passes for a total of 15,000 vertical feet of climbing. Now put that entire ride at elevation with the low point being 5100 feet and the highest at 8730. Would anyone be nuts enough to do that in one day?

Over 3000 bike riders.

Welcome to the Death Ride - Tour of the California Alps, an annual ride that took place this year on July 8, 2017

Unlike the Amgen race, which came through Tahoe earlier this spring, the Death Ride is open to any bicyclist brave enough to try it. (But don't try it unless you are in SERIOUSLY good shape.) All the details can be found by poking around on the Death Ride website.

So just where does this ride take place? The California Alps are a bunch of mountains in Alpine County just south of Tahoe. There are three roads with high passes that go through the area, and the ride goes over those passes, Carson Pass, Monitor Pass, and Ebbetts Pass. The latter two are closed during the winter due to snow.

Here's a bit of detail about the route.

Just south of the Tahoe Basin on Highway 89 is Hope Valley. East of Hope Valley, down the canyon where the West Fork of the Carson River flows, is the tiny hamlet of Woodfords. This is where the Death Ride begins and ends. From Woodfords, the route climbs up Monitor Pass at 8300 feet and down the other side to near Topaz Lake at 5100 feet. Then you turn around and go back up and over Monitor. From there, you head up Ebbets Pass at 8700 feet, down the other side to Hermit Valley, and once again turn around and do it all over again. After that, you head back to your starting point in Woodfords and then climb up to Hope Valley and on up to Carson Pass at 8600. Then you make your final ride back down to Woodfords.

The final climb from Hope Valley up toward Carson Pass
In this photo near the end of the race, the 3000-plus riders were so spread out as they made the final climb, that this photo shows just one rider heading up and one of the earliest finishers coming down.

The Death Ride is a grueling ride through some of the most gorgeous scenery on the planet. Riding 129 miles with 15,000 feet of climbing is an astonishing feat. Anyone who completes it is amazing.

P.S. The oldest participant was 87 years old. The oldest person to complete the entire course was 79.
The youngest participant was 12. The youngest person to complete the entire course was 13. Wow.

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