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Thread: Death Ride!!

  1. #61
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    Hats (helmets?) off to all of you. I finally had a chance to talk to my friend today about his Death Ride experience. I admire him so much, and for him to talk about how hard it was really makes me recognize what a great achievement for all who completed the 5 passes. Biciclista is right on: STP is just another rec ride compared to what you achieved.

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilingcat View Post
    What's great is that everyone finished and finished safely. Soo is pass #4 the back side of Ebetts? Monitor-Monitor-Ebetts-backside of Ebetts- and Carson?
    Yes.
    Sarah

    When it's easy, ride hard; when it's hard, ride easy.


    2011 Volagi Liscio
    2010 Pegoretti Love #3 "Manovelo"
    2011 Mercian Vincitore Special
    2003 Eddy Merckx Team SC - stolen
    2001 Colnago Ovalmaster Stars and Stripes

  3. #63
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    San Jose, CA
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    691

    My ride report - better late than never

    A year ago I contacted maillotpois to see if I had enough time to train for the 2009 Death Ride. I thought she'd laugh uproariously at my private message, but instead, she gave some helpful advice. Her parting words in that private message were "Glad you're interested. Now we just have to get you committed. (You know that's the difference between bacon and eggs, don't you? The chicken is "interested". The pig is "committed".)"

    On the Death Ride itself, I came to realize just how important it was to be fully committed to doing the event.

    First of all, the day started at 2am. Yes, 2am. We needed to be ready to leave the hotel by 3:15 to get to Turtle Rock Park and on the bikes around 4am. I'm not a morning person by any stretch, so this in itself took a huge amount of commitment.

    We started riding around 4am -- there was a large contingent of Team In Training riders who, for one reason or another, wanted to get an early start on the day. We really lucked out with the weather -- it can be in the 30's, but it was in the mid-60's when we started. Dachshund and I had been outfitted with lights by Jobob and Leebob -- we lit up the road for ourselves and any surrounding teammates. It's kind of weird to ride in the dark if you're not used to it -- you can't really see the terrain or the data on your cycle computers, you just have to ride by feel. Kind of zenlike and calming. The only drawback was that I couldn't see far enough ahead and couldn't hold a straight line to save my life. I felt sorry for anyone riding by me, but later I found that most of my teammates had the same problem with wobbliness.

    We climbed most of the front side of Monitor in the darkness, a contingent of red taillights chatting our way up the hill. We'd been warned not to go to fast up Monitor, or we'd lose valuable energy and be extremely sorry at the end of the ride. I did my absolute best to follow this advice. The sun came up, I was still easing my way up the hill and enjoying the scenery. I got to the top around 6:15am, got my sticker, and headed down the hill.

    Descending the back side of Monitor was a blast! I enjoyed flying down the hill without having to expend any pedaling effort, and towards the bottom of the descent, I started seeing people ascending the back side of Monitor. We whooped and hollered and cheered each other on -- how fun is that? I think I got to the bottom around 6:30am, and got my second sticker of the day. While at the bottom, I decided to use the rest stop to refill my Camelbak, eat something, and turn off my lights, which I'd forgotten to do at the top of Monitor.

    Around 6:45, I decided to head back up Monitor and earn the second sticker. The back side of Monitor is about 10 miles of steady grade. It didn't seem that daunting until about a mile in, when my lower back started complaining. Oh boy. I started squirming in my saddle -- try climbing seated towards the back of the saddle. Nope, not so good. Try climbing in the front of the saddle and spin more. Uh, no. Not only that, but the incline of the hill made my butt want to slide backwards, so I was pulling myself upwards using the handlebars. Stand for a bit? Sure, but only a bit -- don't want to get too tired, since we haven't even done 2 out of the 5 passes. Slower cadence and low gear? Yes, but this is going to be a long ride. Ugh. I started getting passed by everyone, which is fine -- "ride your own ride" was drilled into me by my Team In Training coaches as well as my own roommate (who doesn't even ride.) I got passed by a guy in a Captain America jersey, a couple on a tandem, a guy on a fixie, someone on a mountain bike (full suspension, even), people on vintage bikes. Obviously there's some really strong riders out there!

    Meanwhile, as I was laboring my way up the backside of Monitor, others were descending and cheering us on. Lots of "Go Team!" cheers from current teammates and past Team In Training alumni. There was also a group of runners stationed on the backside of Monitor, offering to refill bottles with water or Cytomax. They'd take your bottle, sprint up the hill, refill the bottle, and hand it back to you. Very, very impressive!

    I put my head down and kept pedaling. Couldn't find the magic position that would make my back happy, so I just grit my teeth and kept at it. I have to admit that I did get a little pissy, though. I felt like I was on Monitor for a friggin' eternity. It felt like 5 hours had gone by since the bottom of the hill, and I'm STILL on Monitor. And, to add insult to injury, I'd already gotten the second pass sticker, so there wasn't any big incentive to get to the top. As the road snaked around, I kept thinking that the summit MUST be around the next bend. But NO, just more friggin' Monitor to have to climb. Finally, I decided to take a break on the side of the road. Rest the back, stretch, take some Vitamin I. Another rider stopped and asked if I was OK. We both commiserated about our lower back issues; he had some BioFreeze in a rollon and offered some to me. Oh, it helped my back feel much better, and we got back on and soldiered up to the top. I think I finally got to the top of Monitor around 8:45am. I took another opportunity to get off the bike and stretch my back and reconnect with some teammates.

    Another thing that had been hammered into our heads was to not take too long at the stops. Boy, did I blow this strategy! My back was bugging me so much that I just didn't want to get back on the bike, so I'd find reasons to dawdle at stops.

    Next I got to descend the front side of Monitor, and it was just what the doctor ordered for a sore back! I followed one of my teammates, and she FLEW down the mountain. I achieved my then-personal best speed of 49.1mph on the front side of Monitor!

    All good things must come to an end -- it was time to head up Ebbetts. I was developing a saddle sore, which I hoped would distract me from my lower back. Alas, the saddle sore and lower back double teamed my brain, and I did an impromptu stop. It was early enough in the ride that I still wanted to be fairly discreet. I searched for tree cover so the 2000+ cyclists wouldn't catch me with my hands down my pants. A little Chamois Butter -- ahhhhh much better. Hmmm, while I'm stopped, I should take off a few layers. And have something to eat. And have some Gatorade. Oh, and switch my long fingered gloves for the short fingered ones. You see, so much for efficient stops.

    I'm a good procrastinator, but even I knew it was time to quit stalling and go up Ebbetts. It's a beautiful road and all, but it harbors some of the nastiest, steepest switchbacks I've ever seen. My back didn't like them at all. Meanwhile, masses of cyclists continued to pass me. Recumbents! Some guy on a contraption that is best described as a combination bicycle/elliptical trainer. Oy. Whatever -- I'm working on my 3rd pass, dammit, and I'm gonna keep going until I bag all 5! You may have a superior cardiovascular system and leg muscles to die for, but I have the most highly developed sense of tenacity this side of Lance Armstrong!!!!

    I think I got to the top of Ebbetts around 11ish. Over halfway there, and hey, the backside of Ebbetts is mercifully short! At altitude camp, I was able to descend the backside in 12 minutes and ascend it at 50 minutes, and that was in the rain, hail, and snow. Shoot, if I played my cards right, I'd have 4 of the 5 passes finished by noonish.

    No. First of all, it was a lot more crowded on event day than altitude camp. I actually passed people on the descent, but I had to use a bit of caution to make sure I got around them safely. Secondly, there was a nice rest stop at the bottom, singing its siren song to me. I collected my 4th sticker, parked my bike by a tree, and loaded up on food, Coke (not even Diet), and a V8. Ugh, my stomach wasn't too thrilled with the combo of V8 and Coke, so it joined up with my back and saddle sore in The Effort to Keep Mel from Getting Back on the Bike. "We'll see about that," said my well developed Sense of Tenacity. Game on.

    My next challenge was remembering which tree I'd used to park my bike. Oh boy, that added several minutes to my already lengthy rest stop. Coach Maillotpois would not be happy. Finally found it, my Sense of Tenacity laughed derisively at my stomach, saddle sore, and lower back, and we headed back up Ebbetts.

    At this point, my lower back stepped it up a notch. It whined so much, that my Sense of Tenacity started barking at it: "Don't make me pull this bike over. You don't want to see what will happen if I pull this bike over." Oy. Meanwhile, I'm being passed by teammates who'd started a good two hours after I did. "How's Mighty Melissa doing?" "Uh, Mighty Melissa's feeling pretty tired. Go Team." (Whimper.) Lower back finally won, and I pulled over. Several times. So much for managing rest stops, eh? Sense of Tenacity glowered, lower back gloated, stomach begged that we not try any Ibuprofen for the time being and to please, please, please not mix V8 with Coke ever again.

    Got to the top of Ebbetts, and this is when my Sense of Tenacity started caving. I mean, 4 passes is really good -- very respectable. It was early afternoon, and I could descend Ebbetts, go to the lunch stop, and cruise back to the car. Heck, a beer and nice shower could be in my very near future. At the lunch stop, I found dachshund and some of the coaches. As I was trying to choke down some lunch, I mentioned my 4 pass plan to them. Lots of head shaking ensued. One of the mentors said that we had time to make the cutoffs, but we'd have to leave soon. No rest for the weary.

    Dachshund, Maillotpois and I pacelined our way thru Markleeville, where we were cheered on by lots of onlookers, including jobob and leebob. Yay, this type of thing always perks me up! We were just about to roll by the start/finish point (my car!), when Maillotpois had us all stop by the side of the road for what I'll call the Sermon on the Mount. Dachshund and I both wanted to call it a day, so MP quizzed us. My reasons were that I didn't want to go thru another 2+ hours of climbing as my lower back was unhappy AND I felt like my saddle was ripping me a new one. (Yes, I actually said that.) MP asked how bad I wanted to do all 5 passes. Honestly, at that point, not so much. (Yes, I actually said that. I think my Sense of Tenacity had fallen asleep -- it hates to be woken up at 2am.) MP told me that I'd worked very hard all year for this, that I was physically capable of finishing the ride, and that we had time. Then MP turned her attention to dachshund, who had other reasons for not wanting to finish the ride. She was having issues with the altitude, including dizziness. Obviously this was a safety issue, so MP agreed that dachshund shouldn't do Carson. Dizziness. Dammit, why didn't I think of saying that?!?! MP looked at me and asked if I was going to do this. My Sense of Tenacity woke up and we headed out to Woodfords. MP pulled me to Woodfords, setting a nice, steady, determined pace.

    We got there with plenty of time to spare before the 4pm cutoff. I drank another Coke and enjoyed being sprayed off by a nice woman with a garden hose. Ah, glorious! Not quite the shower I'd envisioned, but close enough for the time being.

    The next challenge was to get to the Picketts Junction rest stop before the 5:15 cutoff. During this part of the ride, Coach Paul caught up to me and was concerned about my nutrition. Paul's a staunch believer in Gu, so he opened a packet and suggested I down it. "It'll wake up your legs." Cool. My stomach wasn't as enamored with Gu. Then Paul started talking about opening another packet for me to ingest, and my stomach revolted, threatening to launch the first packet of Gu if Paul didn't cease and desist immediately. Fortunately, the legs, stomach, and Gu called a truce, and we all soldiered on to Picketts Junction.

    At Picketts, we met up with Mentor Will, who had tried to talk Tony into finishing. Somewhere between Woodfords and Picketts, Tony decided he didn't want to continue. Will said, "I think he could have finished, but I'm really proud of him anyway. Four passes is great!" A couple minutes later, a two more purple Team In Training jerseys rolled into the Picketts rest stop. They were none other than Coach MP and Tony! Apparently Coach MP had seen Tony sitting in the shade by the side of the road and ... well, motivated him in that special way she has. Coach MP -- I swear that she has magic motivational powers!

    It was time to leave Picketts for the final ascent up Carson to get the fifth sticker. Mentor Will paced Gayle, Mark, and I up Carson. It was a nice, slow, steady pace -- my back was still grumbling, but had pretty much given up the fight. Someone joined our paceline and eventually mentioned that this was his 9th Death Ride, but the first time he was going to do all 5 passes. He was really grateful for Will's pacing.

    Finally, around 6pm, I got to the summit of Carson. I'd been happy and relieved to get to the summits of the previous 4 passes, but this one ... ah, this one was something else. This incredible feeling came over me; it was a mixture of relief, gratitude, pride, joy, disbelief. I actually made it -- I climbed all 5 passes of the Death Ride! Two years ago, that would have been an insurmountable goal, and now, it was a done deal!

    It was a little cold and windy at the summit, so I decided not to enjoy the traditional ice cream at the top of Carson. I signed the poster and hung out with some other teammates. Then we were dispatched in groups for the final descent. Wow, it was a fast descent!! Will hit 60mph. I got up to 50.4mph -- a new personal best! Then Vernon, Mark, and I formed a final paceline for the last few hills back to Turtle Rock Park, rolling in around 7:30pm. What a day!

    It was a huge accomplishment, and I have so many people to thank for helping me to reach my goal:
    - The Team In Training honorees, for inspiring us to keep going, no matter how hard
    - The Team In Training coaches and support staff, for getting us ready
    - Anyone who donated -- your generosity is another source of inspiration
    - The Bobs for their most excellent lighting and encouragement. I still need to give you back the axle mount for the headlight.
    - Coach MP for helping me to overcome the temptation to call it a day before attempting Pass #5
    I'll get back on the bike soon, I promise!

  4. #64
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    WA, Australia
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    3,292
    WOW Congratulations!
    What a great ride report.
    I am inspired by your strength to keep going even when things were getting hard.
    WELL DONE!

    I will think of you when I am being a baby on a ride.
    The most effective way to do it, is to do it.
    Amelia Earhart

    2005 Trek 5000 road/Avocet 02 40W
    2006 Colnago C50 road/SSM Atola
    2005 SC Juliana SL mtb/WTB Laser V

  5. #65
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    Aug 2005
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    4,516
    Wow, Melissa!! That's one of the best ride reports I've read in a LONG time! And I agree - next time I'm tempted to walk one of our wimpy little hills, I'll think of you

    CA
    Most days in life don't stand out, But life's about those days that will...

  6. #66
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    melissa, GREAT ride report. I'm proud of you. You had at least two things going on that might have made me quit. um, 2am start? no, 3!!
    I like Bikes - Mimi
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  7. #67
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    Apr 2003
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    Concord, CA USA
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    Great report and great achievement, Ms. Sandbagger!

  8. #68
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    May 2007
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    San Francisco, CA
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    WAHOO!! You worked for it, you gave it everything (even when you didn't want to), and by golly you EARNED it hardcore! Hopefully you've rested up by now and can look back on it with a sense of more happiness.

    SUPERCONGRATS!!

    -- gnat!

  9. #69
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    Dec 2003
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    Folsom CA
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    That was fabulous.

    2009 Lynskey R230 Houseblend - Brooks Team Pro
    2007 Rivendell Bleriot - Rivet Pearl

  10. #70
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    Jan 2006
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    Marin County CA
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    fantastic report! so well done - you should be very proud.

    it was a pleasure riding with you and dachsund, this season (and jo who found the worst way not to have to get up at 2 am....)
    Sarah

    When it's easy, ride hard; when it's hard, ride easy.


    2011 Volagi Liscio
    2010 Pegoretti Love #3 "Manovelo"
    2011 Mercian Vincitore Special
    2003 Eddy Merckx Team SC - stolen
    2001 Colnago Ovalmaster Stars and Stripes

  11. #71
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    Mar 2005
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    Benicia, CA
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    1,320
    I agree with MP. Great job. Loved your report, Melissm. To hear about the Death Ride from my club, you'd think it was a piece of cake. I never hear about how tough it is or what the "head conversation" might be. Thanks for sharing all of that as I'm sure you have a lot of company in that regard.

    Kudows to MP for not letting your mind run the show. She knew better. After 5x on this ride I'll bet she's seen it all! (now 6?)

    What a neat thing that Jobob and Leebob came up just to encourage everyone on the TNT team.

    Wanna harder ride? The Alpine Club (original DR sponsors, now gone) has one a few weeks prior to the DR. Even the best of the riders I know had a tough time on that one. They have some of the same passes and a few more just to add to the pain with a total of 200 miles if you complete all of the passes on the route.
    Nancy

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by maillotpois View Post
    fantastic report! so well done - you should be very proud.

    it was a pleasure riding with you and dachsund, this season (and jo who found the worst way not to have to get up at 2 am....)
    Heh, it was very nice to be able to sleep in that morning, have a tasty breakfast, hang out in Markleeville, have an ice cream cone, and occasionally shout out to my buddies riding by. Oh yeah, and have a beer at the team tent later that afternoon.

    And that, my friends, is my Death Ride report for 2009.

    2009 Lynskey R230 Houseblend - Brooks Team Pro
    2007 Rivendell Bleriot - Rivet Pearl

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bike Goddess View Post
    Wanna harder ride? The Alpine Club (original DR sponsors, now gone) has one a few weeks prior to the DR. Even the best of the riders I know had a tough time on that one. They have some of the same passes and a few more just to add to the pain with a total of 200 miles if you complete all of the passes on the route.
    You must mean the Alta Alpina club's Wild Sierra challenge.

    Lee & I stayed with Twain (one of Alta Alpina's stalwarts) on DR weekend, and we met one of their past presidents who stopped by the night before the DR. Her BF was one of the Wild Sierra organizers this year.

    The TNT gang had their Altitude Camp the same weekend as the Wild Sierra challenge.

    Lee and I drove over one of the passes that the Wild Sierra uses, Kingsbury Grade. That was a lovely road and I hope to bike up it eventually if not sooner.

    2009 Lynskey R230 Houseblend - Brooks Team Pro
    2007 Rivendell Bleriot - Rivet Pearl

  14. #74
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    Yep, the Alta Alpina ride is the one! I"ll bet Twain had a few stories about that one too! I understand that it was pretty cold.

    I'd like to drive the Kingsbury grade too sometime. If you say it's doable, maybe I would be able to do it too. I've heard stories about that grade as well.
    Nancy

  15. #75
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    kingsbury is nice - a lot like the backside of monitor but with a huge shoulder which is good because theres more car traffic than monitor.
    Sarah

    When it's easy, ride hard; when it's hard, ride easy.


    2011 Volagi Liscio
    2010 Pegoretti Love #3 "Manovelo"
    2011 Mercian Vincitore Special
    2003 Eddy Merckx Team SC - stolen
    2001 Colnago Ovalmaster Stars and Stripes

 

 

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