Death Ride – 3 Reports

Authors: Johnna, Kris, Nancy

This event was attended by 9 dmc team members: Johnna, Kris, Nancy, Amy, Martha, Ann, Barbara, Patricia, and Kelli.

We had 3 reports from Johnna, Kris, and Nancy.

Johnna on 7/14/13

Thursday evening; James, Sue and I packed our RV with bike gear and headed to the Death Ride. Sue wasn’t riding the event but she loves a good party and boy did we have one!

Friday morning we set up camp complete with “Hammer” banner and a dmc jersey flying high from the flagpole. That evening, almost everyone showed up at our campsite for dinner: Nancy and Dani, Kelli and Mike, Kim and Jason Cooke, Martha, Mike and Madison Porritt, Ann, Barbara, Patricia and Paul. We discussed our final meeting and departure times for the morning and got to bed early.

Saturday, up at 4:00am, all of us agreeing “we must be crazy!” As we’re having coffee, bagels and oatmeal there are hundreds of cyclists on the road. We see a steady stream of bike headlights.  Most of us had settled on a 5:30 am start time of.  Kris, Nancy, and Martha took off at 4:30am. At 5:30 am the rest of us were rolling; me, Patricia, Kelli, Kim and Jason Cooke, Barbara, Ann and Amy. The first couple miles are downhill and cold but then you start to climb up Monitor and warm up.  We naturally split up into smaller groups but passed each other several times during the ride and gave a shout out to each other. At mile 85 our support crew- James, Sue, Mike, Paul and Marvin are on the side of the road under the tent with a cooler full of ice cold drinks and some snacks. We stop and relax for a few minutes and get a little massage. Sue is in her dmc kit and ready to head out for the last pass with us to keep us motivated. She definitely gets the Best Supporter award because she was fresh and cheerful while Patricia and I were tired and cranky. The funny thing is, all morning riders are real friendly and talk to you, but on that last pass, it’s quiet, riders are tired, and no one wants to do much talking. But not Sue! We had to tell her to quit talking so much, or at least don’t expect a response from us.

At our last rest stop I am seriously struggling. Already having a mental meltdown in my head and on the verge of an emotional breakdown, my chest hurts so badly and I can hardly breathe due to the altitude and exhaustion. My body is screaming, “Why are you putting me through this so soon after Ironman?” But there is no way I’m stopping, this is my 9th Death Ride and I WILL finish. We finally get to the top of Carson and cry, hug, and celebrate………. We made it!

This ride is grueling and I am so proud of all of us for finishing! I can’t thank Patricia and Sue enough for their support and encouragement! The descent on Carson is always the highlight of my day as I can reach 52 mph.  That night we had a great dinner, drank beer, played games and retold our stories from the day. In all my years doing the Death Ride, this was by far the most fun. Hanging out at the campsite together, riding bikes and celebrating with friends. It was a fabulous weekend!

I have to mention that we had so many people come and ask if we were selling Hammer products because we had the banner up. We felt so bad telling them no, we’re just sponsored by them. We also got many comments during the ride- “you women are so strong”, and “we see you on Mt. Diablo all the time”, and “I see you dmc girls on every ride I do”, and “the butterfly team is passing us again”. It’s great to hear that people recognize us!

Nancy on 7/14/13

I survived my second Tour of the California Alps, more commonly known as “The Death Ride.”     

Thursday, I arrived in the afternoon to adjust to the altitude a day early and found that it really helped. 

Friday, I check in at Turtle Rock at 11am and boy was it a zoo!  However, the vendors at this event are great and I always do a little shopping and sampling of the free products. I found dmc Team’s home base, which was Johnna’s huge, custom-built RV. They had the Hammer banner displayed so nicely that we had many riders coming up to see if we had any products!  That night we all met for dinner at 6 pm. James and Marvin grilled chicken and made pasta. Before we knew it we had to wrap it up to get a good night’s sleep before the ride. That night, even though I felt very prepared for this event, was staying in my own comfy RV, and wasn’t nervous, I still had a hard time sleeping.        

Saturday morning, event day, I woke up at 3:15am. As I was driving to Johnna’s camp, I could see a steady stream of cyclists already on the road with their bright lights, shining in the dark. I got my riding stuff on and heading down the road to the start to meet Kris B, Martha, Marty, and Kris’s friend at 4:30am. As we climbed Monitor, my all time favorite climb and descent, the sun started to rise. I got to the top of the backside of Monitor a little after 8am, took some photos, waited a little for Martha, and that was where Amy caught us. She is so fast! She had started almost an hour after us. We got to ride with her for a while until we started climbing Ebbetts and she was off again.  

This year I stuck with eating what I normally do on a ride. I used my own Hammer Electrolyte products HEED and Fizz. My stomach was so much happier. It is hard to eat enough on this ride, but carrying open bars in your pockets and taking bites while you climb, helps. It is also very important to drink a lot in the altitude so I tried to take a sip every five miles or so.  

Ebbetts is a bit steeper than the other passes so I was glad when that was behind me. I saw Amy climbing up the back side of Ebbetts while I was descending, and I saw Johnna, Barbara, Ann and Kris descending Ebbetts backside while I was climbing it.  

After lunch I got back out on the road hoping to jump on another pace line when all of a sudden Patricia and Johnna came up with another guy and I jumped on. Perfect timing!  I was so happy to meet up with them. They said Amy was about 45 mins ahead of me.  WOW!

The last climb up Carson is a grind. You are tired, the pavement and bike lane isn’t that good and cars are allowed on the road. These last ten miles of the Death Ride are always the toughest for me. I had no one to talk to so I was singing “Take me out to the Ball game” and a few other songs in my head. I saw Amy descending Carson around 3;30pm and gave her a shout out. I finally made it to the top a little after 4pm.  Boy was I happy to be done. Not long after I got there Barbara and Ann showed up. Then Patricia and Johnna showed up. These ladies are amazing considering they started a half hour to a whole hour before me! 

All of a sudden there was Martha! She had made it!  Our mountain biker turned roadie had done it. She finished all five passes of the Death Ride. I was so happy for her. As we left, Kelli and Kris came around the bend to finish. We gave another fun shout out!  The Carson descent is another fun one, so Martha and I both let it loose and got very close to 50 mph. The hard part is heading up Hwy 89 to get to Turtle Rock which is up hill. It may not seem like much on a normal day but after what we had done it’s a bit of a grind.

We finally arrived at Johnna’s camp.  It was a great day and a great experience. We had a record nine dmc gals on the ride, which made me proud.  I’m especially proud of our rock star racer Amy who finished in nine hours, Johnna who finished after doing her Ironman only a few weeks before, Sue who rode up Carson to support of her teammates, and Martha, my training buddy, who set out to do this ride in January and has improved as a road cyclist by 100%.    

I felt I had taken my time on this ride to enjoy it more and was surprised to learn after looking at my Garmin results that I had done it at almost the same exact pace (~one tenth mph faster) and my heart rate averaged 6 bpm less than it was last year.  Pretty cool!

I’m in again for 2014.  We already reserved out site at the Carson River Resort.  It will be Johnna’s 10th and final Death Ride so she says. Hopefully we can get a big group again to help her celebrate this accomplishment.  Who’s in????

Kris on 7/15/13

The Death Ride is an event that you cannot appreciate until you have attempted it.  It is truly a suffer fest, but everyone is suffering right along with you.

 I started out with Nancy, Martha and my friend MartyMarty wasn’t feeling good (but still finished 4/5 passes), so I ended up losing Nancy, Martha and Marty and did the ride solo. You never feel like you’re alone though, as most riders are very friendly and shout out words of encouragement as they pass, such as: “looking good”, “you can do it”, and “you’re almost to the top”.  My favorite was when a guy came up behind me on the back side of Monitor and yelled out “number 507, you win the award for the best hair!” because my ponytail must have looked awesome!

Seeing my dmc teammates on the road was also a huge motivator to keep me going.  Amy looked so happy every time I saw her.  Johnna and Patricia passed me a few times and I chatted with them at rest stops.   Nancy & Martha were descending Carson as I neared the top and Kelli and I topped Carson seconds apart.  James shouted out to me as I rode by, but I didn’t realize it was him until after the fact!

I was struggling at the last rest stop too, but after ice water, watermelon, and a liberal application of Chamois Butt’r, I got back on the bike for the last 9 mile climb to Carson.  The feeling of accomplishment when you get to Carson is indescribable, and the descent off Carson is amazing (I hit 45 MPH, which is fast for me!). 

 Unfortunately, staying in Minden, NV meant missing out on the pre & post-ride festivities with the other dmcer’s. Although I didn’t get to spend much time with you, it was wonderful catching a glimpse of most of you!