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From one Adventurous Spirit to Another…The Death Ride is Insane

Saturday In Alpine County California is Filled With Some of The Worlds Most Daring Riders

Sierra Rec Magazine – Alpine County Ca,  July 2018 – Here we are on the eve of the 2018 Death Ride in Alpine County Ca, and as I sit here planning my alternative route in the morning for my hiking adventure in Desolation Wilderness, I can’t help but wonder what kind of personality trait is it, that someone would want to put themselves and their body through the Death Ride Experience?  Listen I drive these 5 mountain passes routinely on the way to my weekly adventures and on my wilderness day hikes I have even climbed up a trail that may have covered that type of altitude gain (once) on my journey. But I can’t even fathom the type of pain associated with climbing 5 mountain passes over 129 miles of highway covering over 15,000 feet in elevation change all in one day.  Let’s not even discuss that this is in July, which is the hottest season of the year typically in Alpine County Ca.  One word comes to mind “RESPECT!”
Deathride Graphic
I believe it was 2008 that I was first introduced to the Death Ride, as a newbie to the Sierra, by chance I actually drove up to Alpine County out of the Carson Valley on the eve of the ride. There were bikers everywhere and atypical bonehead driver I was at the time, I was probably a bit annoyed at the extra effort I had to give to these cyclists on the roadway.  But over the past 10 years, I have come to respect this group of individuals that each year ascends on Markleville Ca and the surrounding communities to tackle the California Alps and in part challenge their bodies and mind to a limit I frankly can’t comprehend. It only takes one trip up Ebbett’s pass in my truck to know the strain in places on my motor going up and the brakes/transmission coming down.
To choose to do this on a human-powered bike is the definition of adrenaline junkie if you ask me. I check out these Grades (9.2%, 9.5%, 10.3%)  and that is just halfway up one pass all five passes read very similar.  Oh, and why do they do it? For the best I can tell, just to say they did and maybe a cool jersey… I rest my case on the type of individual who rides the death ride. My favorite Deathride past time is to head up Ebbits Pass anytime a couple of weeks prior to the race and sit in this great little pool that forms on the Silver Creek next to the bridge below Silver Creek Campground and watch the would-be riders climb as they ride past me. Of course, they have no idea that as they are killing themselves on these climbs, I’m casually enjoying the cool waters of the Sierra in a cool bath made for one.

What You need to know if headed to Alpine County on Saturday to watch the riders or get to your favorite recreation area.

Start & Cut-Off Time:

Generally, the start-time is 5:00am or at daylight. Starting before sunrise requires visible lighting in front and back of bike and rider. If starting early bring your own food and water at rest stops will not be open until posted times. Riders not planning on completing all passes please start a little later to avoid congestion. All riders must be off the course by 8:00 pm.

Road Closures: Day of Event 07/14/18

From 5:00 am – 7:00 am, the road will be closed to traffic from the Markleeville Courthouse to the junction of Highways 89 & 4. Monitor (Hwy 89) & Ebbetts Pass (Hwy 4) will be closed to vehicular traffic starting at 5:00 am. Monitor Pass reopens to vehicular traffic at 12:00 pm. Ebbetts Pass reopens to vehicular traffic at 3:00 pm. Highway 89 from Woodfords to the Markleeville Courthouse will remain open. Please adhere to posted speed zones and early morning parking crews.
Deathride Welcomes Visitors and Volunteers
We welcome spectators or if they want to volunteer have them check out our Jobs & Times page.
Here are some interesting statistics about people who participated in the Tour of the California Alps – Death Ride®. The Alpine County Chamber of Commerce makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information listed.

2017 Tour of the California Alps – DEATH RIDE®:

YOUNGEST 5 PASS FINISHER: 14 male, 20 female
OLDEST 5 PASS FINISHER: 80 male, 67 female

We Love having the Deathride in Our Backyard

I have not been a cyclist since I was 10 years old on my red Schwinn on the backroads fo the cascade mountains in Beaver Marsh Oregon,  but I do have friends that ride in a variety of ways who just are so passionate about riding. When I lived in Iowa they celebrated Ragbi,  and boarder to boarder ride across Iowa that was quite the party) and I thought they were some of the bravest souls I had ever heard of. But these Death Ride participants take the cake. I love living in the Sierra where we can celebrate huge race events like the Amgen Tour which crossed here earlier this year and celebrated competitive greatness, or the best of the best tackling the single track in Carson City and Lake Tahoe in this years Carson City off Road Mountain Bike Race. But for me, this race, The 2018 Death Ride is filled with just the right amount of passion, crazy and triumph of human spirit. I love having the riders here for the weekend, and enjoy watching them ride on, from the comfort of my truck!
Best of luck to this year’s field of participants. May your bodies hold up and the satisfaction of completion bring you great joy.

About the author

Charlie Pankey

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