Death Ride 2009

Quite the name, huh?  Death Ride.  129 miles, with 15,000 feet of elevation gain.  It’s basically five monster-sized hills, with no flat sections, and a few very short miles of rollers between the hills. And somehow, the 3,500-or-so riders that each pay about $100 to participate have to fight for their spot.  It sold out within hours, back in January.

There are plenty of interesting insights about cyclists and their bikes that an event like this is fantastic for shining a spotlight upon.  Some favorites:

  1. There are way more DuraAce Triple-equipped bikes out there than you think there are.  Unless you already think there are A LOT OF THEM.
  2. There are lots of riders, typically 40-50 yr old men, on titanium bikes from 1994-2001.  They bought their bikes from salespeople who told them that titanium would last forever, and they’re out to prove the point by NEVER REPLACING IT EVER.  But most were rocking new wheels, new drivetrains, and new kit.
  3. There are people out there putting the hurt into these hills on bikes built (and sometimes not maintained since) the 1970′s.  Totally awesome to be reminded in no uncertain way that the equipment does not make the rider.
  4. I saw two guys riding road bikes with flat pedals & sport sandals.  One was a vintage Motobecane, the other a brand new Cannondale SuperSix carbon bike. Also saw more than a few riders with MASSIVE backpacks full of I-don’t-know-what.  One had running shoes tied to the outside, because the backpack itself was clearly overstuffed.
  5. Saw several riders with iPods and speaker systems – this is the modern day Ghetto Blaster, folks.
  6. Spotted plenty of tandems (including the one with the “just married” flag behind it), one tiny kid struggling up the hill with mom (go kid go!!), a couple guys on bizarre upright ‘stepper’ bikes, and a healthy dose of women, including my own pink-haired princess.
  7. Big contingent of riders out raising money for great charity called Turning Wheels For Kids – check out what these guys are up to, and help if you can.
  8. Generally, seems like the promise of closed roads and beautiful surroundings helps people find motivation they might not otherwise find on their own.

For sure, it’s been awesome to see Gnat progress through 7 months of training under the VeloGirls coaching program, and was doubly awesome to be there along the way. I made a little documentary of her day, check it out if you’ve got 11 minutes to spare and want a pretty honest peek at what a 13.5hr day of riding might look like.

Written by chris in: General Musings |


  • ike

    Video was awesome ! Good job Gnat congrats
    You did look good!
    Maybe next year death ride for me only if the have ice cream again.

    Comment | July 15, 2009
  • I remember seeing that pink hair on the ride. Haha! Congratulations on the California Alps. That was a fun ride!

    Comment | July 18, 2009
  • john duffy kastel

    I remember coming up the second part of monitor pass and religously sticking behind rider 1024, whoever that was, and then towards the top people stopped to take in the awesome view back in the directon of hwy 395. Some guys, appaerently photographers, even got off their bikes to take pictures of the view – and all those awesome athletes too, probably. Congrats to everyone, I enjoyed it so much I just signed up for the Everest Challenge – see you in Bishop for roughly Death X 2.

    Comment | August 3, 2009
  • [...] many ways, this was similar to the Death Ride I blogged about earlier this summer.  The actual people that were out on this trip were normal, real, and [...]

    Pingback | August 28, 2009
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