Well I did it (again); rode the famous Markleeville Death Ride and lived to tell about it, 129 miles, 15,000 feet of climbing over 5 mountain passes in the High Sierras, and whew 1 big smile at the end of it. This ride does not get any easier and in fact this year I was in worse shape than previous years, and really struggled in the second half. I must get in more miles if I'm to be successful at the 508. Oh well I have three months left and must use the time wisely.
This year the new wrinkle was snow; the Ebbett's pass had a lot of it everywhere, which cooled the air a bit and made for even more beautiful scenery. All the rivers were flowing wildly and there were waterfalls everywhere. I love it. The Monitor Pass views were even more incredible than usual with snow on the surrounding mountain tops too. And in a twist, the Carson Pass was hotter than usual; twice before I've been rained on during that final long climb, but this year I was broiled (or maybe I was toasted :). Anyway whew I made it.
BTW must note, I have completely cut over to using my iPhone as my camera, and I am now running IOS 5 beta 2, which nearly saved my life several times as it is so much easier now to launch the camera app; no more futzing to enter access codes etc. You pull out the camera, double click, click the camera icon, and use the "+" hardware button to take pictures. Excellent.
Here are some pictures, you can find more in the gallery on my website:
the official route map (click to enbiggen)
the route: 129 miles and 15,000 feet,
out from Markleeville up and over Monitor Pass and down to Topaz,
then back up over Monitor and down into the valley,
then up and over Ebbett's Pass down to Bear Valley,
then back up over Ebbett's and down into the valley,
past Markleeville to Woodford's,
and then up to the top of Carson Pass (yay!),
and finally back down and over to Markleeville.
I still love the novelty of the Places map on the iPhone :)
early morning, up the first climb on Monitor Pass (yawn)
so far so good, climbing Monitor
emerging over the top into the valley with Checkpoint One
down to Topaz, a beautiful descent
traffic jam at the foot of the pass,
riders coming down and riders going back up
climbing back up Monitor, longest climb of the day
panoramic view down to Lake Topaz (click to enbiggen)
boy scouts help out at the checkpoints - excellent
incredible views from the top of Monitor looking West
climbing Ebbett's, Kinney Reservoir provides a beautiful vista (click to enbiggen)
after descending Ebbett's the meadows are amazing; note overflowing river
the town of Markleeville, our charming host
climbing Carson, the last bit is the worst but the end is in sight
checkpoint at the top of Carson, lots of happy death riders!
yay, made it; here posing with the official poster
descending back down the view of Red Lake is always amazing
Another year, another Death Ride in the books... Cheers and onward!