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Ride Report: Death Ride 2004 (Roadie Content)

1240 Views 8 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Bike Daddy
Death Ride 2004 - My Stats:
129 Miles
16,000 of vertical climb
Ride time: 8 hours 48 minutes
Calories burned: 4560
Max speed: 56MPH

I found the Death Ride an appropriately named event. At certain points on this organized road bike ride, I truly felt as if I were pedaling toward oblivion as I rode the five Sierra Nevada mountain passes that make up the course. But in a paradox that is only familiar to other endurance junkies, this was the very lure of untaking such a ride. Plus, death by bicycling has a nice ring to it!

The day began on very uncertain note. I was unable to sleep more than two hours the night before. Given that I need to get up at 4AM, this left me a wee bit frustrated. So I drive from my place of lodging (Kirkwood) to the ride event only to realize that I left my sports drinks (Accelerade and Endurox) back in the condo. To top it off, I arrive at the rider breakfast and realize that I left my wallet back in the car some distance away. So I start the longest ride of my life with no breakfast, no liquids and two hours of sleep. Great.

Fortunately, the Death Ride is such a well-organized event that there was plenty of food and drink at the first summit. I basically treated this refreshments stop as my breakfast, eating and drinking as much as I could.

Ah much better! I relaxed and started to enjoy the ride and gorgeous scenery. If you have never been to this area (south of Lake Tahoe on the crest of the Sierra), it is magnificent. Huge snow capped mountains and rock outcroppings grace the skyline as you wind your way up and down these mountain roads.

Things went very well until I reached the summit of the third mountain pass (Ebbetts). I developed excruciating lower back pain that made me wonder if I would ride much further. Fortunately, at the bottom of the next descent, I found a kind volunteer who offered up copious amounts of Advil. This never rid me of the pain, but made it at least tolerable. Plus, I figured that perseverance and pain was the order of the day, so I just ignored the constant ache.

After the forth mountain pass, you still have 50 miles to go, twenty of which are up the seemingly endless Carson Pass. There is a HUGE difference between doing four and five passes on this ride. I am not sure I have the skills to adequately describe how utterly depleted and exhausted I was in the last few miles of the last climb. But I had come that far and was so close to completing that ride, I just kept pedaling, focusing on my larger goal of climbing all summits in the ride.

After the final descent, I gorged myself on the complimentary BBQ put on by the incomparable Death Ride volunteers. I've never seen such a devoted, enthusiastic set of support staff. They cheered you on, helped you park your bike, filled your water bottles, etc.

So I did all five passes and lived though the event. Somehow, after all the suffering and exhaustion, I felt great and have already fantasized about future Death Rides. God, I love riding my bike!


- Distance
- Scenery
- Level of support
- Eating all day long without guilt


- Distance
- Starting a bike ride at 5:30AM
- Getting caught behind slow, erratic riders every time I wanted to try and hit 60MPH on the Monitor Pass descent
- Lack of sleep
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Glad you posted. A friend of my wife's did the ride, and I'm looking forward to hearing her report too. I'm already planning to attempt it next year when I turn 40.

Mikey said:
I'm already planning to attempt it next year when I turn 40.
You can do it. There are two keys to a successful Death Ride:

1) Eat lots and lots of high energy foods/gels during the ride. Hit all the rest stops that have food. There is no way you can complete this without enough food intake (see my calories stats above). I prefer a lot of gels to large items like sandwiches because I have trouble eating bit hunks of food and drinking as much fluid as I need.

2) Completely ignore the pace of other riders and set your own pace. On my Polar computer, I kept a constant eye on my cadence and my heart rate and was devoted to keeping both within set ranges. Trying to keep up with faster riders and groups is a good way to bonk, feel horrible and not finish the ride.
Congrats, I hear the weather was absolutely perfect to boot......

DMFT said:
Congrats, I hear the weather was absolutely perfect to boot......
Just about. The temperature was perfect, but I could have done without the strong headwinds on the last climb. Ugh!
The wind is allllllways there, it just normally feels like a few hundred hair dryers blowing dirrectly into your face at 1,000 degrees :D

Did you do the "bonus" climb/mileage???
Just Five

DMFT said:
Did you do the "bonus" climb/mileage???
You mean the Blue Lakes 6th pass? No, I opted to leave that for another year and just get the 5 pass version under my belt. I heard from other riders that Blue Lakes is just gorgeous. If I don't do Climb to Kaiser next year (my plan), I'll do the 6 pass version of the DR.
I like that - "Just 5" piece o' cake right!?!?

Next year I'm sure they'll have something diabolical in store for riders being the Silver Anniversary for the D.R.

Another thing that saved me on this ride: chamois butter. It literally save my butt!
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