Last year, when a Death Ride ticket landed in my lap 40 days before the ride, I panicked. This time, when Erik informed me, only four days prior, that he had decided to do the Death Ride, I said, "Okay, and in that case, I will do it too." There was no second guessing. That sureness came from the power of knowing: knowing that if I did it once, I could do it again; knowing that our mountain bikes were still out of commission; knowing that if I said no, he would do it by himself anyway (I couldn't blame him since I did it without him last year); and knowing that there were many tickets on Craigslist waiting to be picked up these days.
To be honest, I already called the event "been there, done that" and had no plan to return. I was pretty happy with how I rode last year. Knowing that I had given the ride pretty much all I had, I would not expect any dramatic improvement in the future… unless suddenly some day, I win lottery AND gain enough self-discipline to ride all the time, but that will never happen in a million years.
But how could I ride this one differently from last year (otherwise, what's the point of doing it again)? Oh, I got an idea! See, last year, not knowing what to expect on the course, I brought all my own food and did not take even a Gu or a bar from the course support. I didn't even bother taking a glance at their food trays. For that reason, I ate scarcely. And being anxious about not getting caught in the afternoon storm, I refilled only twice on the ride and relied on the two bottles of water to last me long ways. Even though I made good times, in the end I was dehydrated and feeling weak. This time… I would rely solely on the course meals, drink more water and refill whenever one bottle had gone dry, and even bring my camera!
As for doing it with Erik, well, that would not change anything because when I asked Erik, "Do you think we should stick together?" He shook his head and said "no", just what I wanted to hear. Accustomed to riding single file, we are never the chatty type while riding. On self-supported rides, we do make sure to regroup when necessary, but neither of us sees such necessity on a ride like this. From our last weekend's riding in the Eastern Sierra, we both had expected that I would be a little stronger than him, but as it turned out, I couldn't ditch him even if I had wanted to. At the beginning, we both were fresh and I never really pulled away from him. Plus, he was a faster descender than me (even though I was not slow since I was passing a lot of people), so we traded leads a couple of times until the climb on the front side of the Ebbettes where I passed him and pulled away. But then, he arrived at Hermit Valley station when I was rolling out. Again, he arrived at the lunch stop (where he didn't break for lunch) just after I had my lunch and was ready to roll. On the gradual climb back to Turtle Rock, I stayed with a pace line, off of which he fell at one point. But again, he rode by the car without stopping where I was applying my third layer of sunblock. Last I saw him without having planned so was at the Woodfords station. Yep, I couldn't ditch him even if I had wanted to! The only intentional wait was at Carson Pass. I wanted to have a picture of us together for the "historical" moment.
On the climb up to Carson, I felt strong. Having stayed fueled and hydrated was definitely showing the positive effect. Another pleasant change from last year was the lack of bone-numbing pain from the saddle. I was glad that I slammed my soft WTB Vigo MTB saddle on my road bike even though the tilt didn't feel right because the saddle clamps were designed to use with a split saddle and the thick cushion probably looked goofy.
Overall, my total elapsed time was half an hour more than last year's due to the more frequent and longer breaks (10.5 hours total this time). The riding time got reduced by about 15 minutes to 9 hours even according to Garmin Connect (compared to previous year's data on Motionbased). Not much reduction there, as I said earlier, I did give pretty much all I had on last year's ride.
Since I brought my camera, I made sure to take pictures while riding. Just like every other time, now that I'm back sitting in front of my computer, I wish I had taken more photos. For the photos below, hover the cursor on a photo to see descriptions and click to see the larger versions.
On the front side of Monitor Pass:
On the back side of Monitor Pass:
On the front side of Ebbettes:
On the back side of Ebbettes:
Carson Pass (from top down):
That's all from me reporting from the Death Ride. … Oh, wait! I promised Patrick that there would be a food tasting report! That's the only reason I'm writing this report! Not.
Carbo-loading at Hamdogs the night before:
Sampling of Course meals:
Even though I ate a big plate at the Death Ride dinner hall (Erik ate a little), when we got back to our room, we were both hungry. We were super happy to discover this gem, JT Bar & Dining Room, and loved our delicious dinner.
On Sunday's drive back home, we stopped in Murphy and walked into Murphy's Saloon right at 11:30am, when the FIFA World Cup final was starting and when we were feeling hungry. That meal lasted us a good 120+ minutes, an exciting 2+ hours for a 1-0 ending, an ending that made me cry just because one team, one nation, had to lose. Soccer is cruel. I'll stick to cycling.
Now, a few goofy shots at Carson Pass Station:
I took a photo of every previous year's Death Ride poster that hung in the dinner hall. Loved the artworks. See my album for those photos as well as other photos that did not make into this report. BTW, Erik just found out, by examining previous years' posters, that his last Death Ride was in 1989!
Whew, that was a long report! Oh well, it was about my longest ride — not that I could help it!
P.S. For anyone reading, if you have a spare 30-year Anniversary Death Ride bug that we can buy, I would really appreciate it if you could. We were bummed that they were sold out when we got to the registration and were told that they would not make more.
- Our photo album for this trip (a lot more photos)
- My First Century — 2009 Death Ride
- Death Ride official website