Category: deathride

An Inspirational Deathride Video – and Other Alpine County News

101 days and counting until the Tour of the California Alps, menacingly, yet lovingly referred to as the Deathride. When you’re on the course, especially on climbs 5 or 6 – this year there are six of those bad boys – you might feel like you are close to death, but thankfully no one has ever died on the Deathride.

The tertiary try is the charm we hope! 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic. 2021 “flamed out” because of the Tamarack Fire. Let’s go 2022!

THE Alpine County Chamber of Commerce has just issued a press release and an amazing and inspirational (we think) promotional video. We’ve never done anything like this before (at least that I’m aware of) regarding our beloved “DR” so it’s yet another first from the Deathride team.

HUGE kudos to Becky DeForest, Exec. Director of the Chamber, for herding the necessary cats to get it done.

GET’S me fired up when I watch it and I’m certainly honored that several California Alps Cycling members, including yours truly, are in it!

LET me know what you think. If you were waffling, did it change your mind? If you had never considered riding it, are you now? Will you perhaps share it on your social media channels to get others excited?

Some Tree Planting and a Community Clean-up

THE above images are courtesy of the Markleeville Water Company. They show some members of CalFire and the California Conservation Corps doing the “seedling shuffle.” 😉

READ their post for some more information on this planting, which took place just over two (2) weeks ago. It also has some links to register for the tree plantings that will take place on April 9th (this Saturday) and May 1st, so if any of you have some spare time and would like to help us with our restoration efforts please do sign up. We’ve love to have you!

MARKLEEVILLE’S Enhancement Club (MEC) has scheduled its Spring Clean-up for Saturday, May 14th. This all-volunteer beautification committee will be doing some work in and around town, picking up trash and biomass, trimming trees and bushes, picking up litter on two (2) Adopt-a-Highways stretches of Highway 89 (California Alps Cycling’s section from Turtle Rock Park to Camp Markleeville and Alpine Watershed Group’s section from Camp Markleeville to Monitor Junction), and doing a bit of landscaping and such at Al’s Got Gas (our local fuel depot).

RIDE here? Hike here? Boulder here? Here’s yet another chance to give back. Email me if you’re interested and I’ll add you to the list.

Other Upcoming Events

WE’VE got a few other things in the works this year, on both the East Slope (east of the Sierra crest – Hope Valley, Markleeville, Woodfords) and the West Slope (west of the Sierra crest – Bear Valley, Kirkwood).

HERE are some ideas:

  • Live Music at Cutthroat Brewing Company – Fridays 6 – 8 p.m., Markleeville
  • Women’s Fly Fishing Retreat – May 13th -> 15th at Wylder Hope Valley
  • High Sierra Archery Shoot – June 11th -> 12th at Bear Valley Resort
  • Ebbetts Fest – June 12th – Benefiting the Ebbett Pass Scenic Byway Asssocation
  • Music in the Park – Starting June 25th, Alpine Co. Library, Markleeville
  • Bear Valley Music Festival – July 22nd, Bear Valley
  • Stargazing – August 27th, Alpine Co. Airport, Markleeville

FOR specific details on these events, and to peruse other options, go to the Events Page of the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center.

Last But Not Least – Our Local Passes

MONITOR Pass is open!

Ebbett’s Pass should be soon based on the Caltrans activity I noticed on a lunchtime ride yesterday; a beauty day here in the California Alps. That’s me in front of Raymond Meadow Creek (RMC), at the 7000′ mark of Highway 4, just below Silver Creek Campground, on the Ebbett’s Pass Highway.

I chatted for a few minutes with a trio of mountain athletes from Sacramento before I turned around and headed back down the mountain. These dudes had just come back from behind the “7000′ gate” and were hanging out basking in the glory of their day’s adventures. They told me the road was just plowed but they didn’t get all the way to the top so not sure how far up the snow was removed. It was cool to see some skis, a mountain bike and a gravel bike nearby. Talk about being Alpine!

COME and get some! And remember to check our local weather and air conditions page for current weather and air quality before you head up, down, in or over.

SEE you soon!

Training for the Deathride? Here’s the Number One Thing You Should Do

CLIMB! And, climb some more. And when you think you’ve done enough climbing, do even more. Here in the California Alps climbing is pretty much par for the course; head out the door and you’re on some sort of incline (or decline).

Yesterday, I had the pleasure (and pain) of riding up the west side of Monitor Pass (this view is from just above Heenan Lake) and was reminded that there is no subsitute for climbing if you’re training for a ride with lots of elevation gain.

SURE, I’ve been training hard, with lots of paincave sessions, including HIIT, V02 max, and more, and some of those sessions focus on things such as building endurance, “rocking the rollers” and sweet-spot training (SST); yet I realized while “out on course” that even though my strain is up significantly from the previous week, I’m just not climbing enough.

THIS past week, including yesterday’s adventure, I rode about 116 miles with almost 11,000 feet of elevation gain.

THE DeathrideTour of the California Alps does that in one day, though, and while yesterday’s ride was 36 miles with over 4000 of climbing, I asked myself could I do that three or four more times.

The short answer = NO. At least not yesterday. 🙁

As you can see by my happy, yet very sweaty mug, that first big pitch was hard.

MONITOR east, Ebbetts north and south (or west and east depending on your preference), and Pacific Grade (twice) would still be yet to come on July 17th. Yowza, there is work to be done!

THANKFULLY, we’ve all got more time. IMHO, and based on previous experience, right about now (3-4 mos. out) is when you should start ramping 😉 up your training. And it’s not just about the climbing… Your secondary focus should be on time spent in the saddle.

IF you are going to tackle the entire ride, you’re looking at a full day on your steed.

BACK in 2017, when I finished all of the climbs, I was on the bike for about ten (10) hours and my elapsed time was twelve (12) hours!

VENTURING on a velocipede for that amount of time takes a serious toll on the bod., and takes some getting used to, so don’t skimp. And, if you’re not already thinking about it, be sure to address your future nutrition needs by practicing what, and how much, you eat and drink.

EXPERIMENTING with new bars, gels or drink mixes the day of is a recipe for disaster!

So Now What?

WELL, for me that means heeding my own advice and hitting those hills and mountains more often, and taking on longer rides. I would guess that applies to you as well.

ANOTHER aspect of training that I’m working on is the gear. You may have noticed that I was wearing an USWE hydration pack. Amazing piece of equipment by the way – pretty darn comfy and it DOES NOT move. I am not planning on wearing it for the Deathride but I am going to have it on for May’s Paydirt here in the Pine Nuts. And, yes, sharp-eyed reader, Roscoe is a gravel bike. So it was a double-duty deed, if you will, yesterday – got some climbing in and did it on the bike I’ll be riding in May, with the gear and grub I’ll be hauling.

I’m thinking a 50-60 mile ride on dirt will be a similar experience to a century on the road and so I see some benefits to training for Pete Stetina’s ride now, while also keeping that next big day in July, in mind.

NEED some other ideas? Search “climbing” on this blog for myriad posts on the subject. If you’re a neophyte I’d especially call your attention to this post as well as this one.

The snow is melting and the rivers and creeks are rising and getting chocolately. This is the East Fork of the Carson near Monitor Junction.

AFTER all, spring has sprung so it’s time to get cracking!

WE’RE looking forward to riding with you in July (or sooner perhaps), and the community is getting ready for your visit.

BE sure to make those reservations early, by the way. There are fewer resources around due to last year’s Tamarack Fire.

RIDE on, be safe, and climb, climb, climb!

The 2022 Deathride is On! And Other Exciting News

LAST Thursday night, the Alpine County Planning Commission officially approved the permit for the 2022 Deathride – Tour of the California Alps!

WHILE it is somewhat of a formality, it’s a necessary and important step to keep things moving forward towards the big day on July 16th. It’s during this meeting that letters of support from various agencies and entities are provided, traffic plans are perused and various other milestones are addressed. The Commission also takes into consideration any public comments, good or bad, in its decision.

SOME public comment was received and it was constructive and positive – warning of the lay of the land (er…road) in and around the Chickaree turnaround (just east of Lake Alpine – where riders will flip a uey and head back up Pacific Grade and then over Ebbett’s Pass for the second time 😳) and suggesting among other things ample warning signage, yet fully supporting the new route. Our ride and event directors were on hand to hear the comments and there is a plan in place to address the concern.

THANKS to the uber-preparation by the Alpine County staff and the Alpine Co. Chamber’s Executive Director, the meeting went smoothly and the Commission had no issues with approving the permit.

LIKE I wrote back in November, fingers crossed that this third try will fly, and as I suggested in January, it’s time to start training for the big day. I myself just finished a 4-week FTP training plan yesterday and was pleased to see that ol’ FTP trending up (from 290 to 297).

MORE importantly, I realized that the Training Peaks plan that I followed would be a good guide for those final weeks leading up to the Deathride. Ramping up for the first three weeks where that third week was the hardest…Then doing some recovery rides and short V02 max workouts for the final week, but finishing the week with two FTP tests; one last Saturday (8 minute test) and one yesterday (full on 20 minute test).

Replace those FTP tests with the ride is what I’m thinking…

YEAH I hear ya though, “the DR” is a whole lot harder than a one-hour FTP test so maybe just recovery rides that final week, eh?

IN any case, we’re all excited, as I’m sure you are, to get things rolling in terms of cycling events. The first one of the season (in the Sierra at least) takes place on March 20th in Calaveras county.

Cyclists and walkers will enjoy the rolling green hills and rural roads of West Calaveras County during the Calaveras County Arts Council’s Sixth Annual Ride & Walk 4 Art on March 20, 2022. With three bicycle ride choices—30, 45, and 100 miles—or a 4.5 mile walk along the shores of New Hogan Lake—there’s something for everybody.

Mother Lode Bicycle Coalition’s post of January 25th

WE’LL be there! You coming?

That Other Exciting News

Speaking of Mother Lode…Rob Williams, chairman of MLBC, and yours truly (along with other cycling and pedestrian advocates within District 10) have recently become members of Caltrans’ District 10 Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). We held our kick-off via WebEx on February 9th and there were over forty people in attendance! It was Caltrans’ idea, by the way, to engage with the community and it all started back in 2017.

FROM the BPAC Charter…

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) adopted the Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan: Toward an Active California in 2017 and the Mode Share Action Plan 2.0 in 2020, demonstrating a deep commitment to plan, design, construct, operate, and maintain walk and bike facilities across the state for people of all ages and abilities. District 10 has identified a need for regular input from diverse members representing walk and bike interests from all ages and abilities to support this work and established the D10 Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (D10 BPAC) for that purpose. 

The D10 BPAC provides strategic input, technical guidance, and process improvement recommendations to support achievement of the walk and bike safety objectives and multimodal network strategies in the 2020-24 Caltrans Strategic Plan. The committee also guides implementation of the Caltrans Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan: Toward an Active California at the District level, through the lens of the District 10 Caltrans Active Transportation (CAT) Plan. The D10 BPAC goals align with Caltrans core values: Engagement, Equity, Innovation, Integrity, and Pride. 

WHAT a wonderful opportunity to contribute, and one of the main reasons we formed California Alps Cycling; we wanted to (as part of our mission reads) “advocate for cycling and the outdoors.” The next meeting is in April and that’s when the real work will start I suspect.

STAY tuned for more info. and updates, and a BPAC website!

A Closed Roads Preview

I’LL leave you with a couple pix to whet your appetitite because as you know, with the exception of the stretch between Turtle Rock Park and Monitor Junction, the Deathride course will be closed to vehicular traffic.

WE had family in town for the Valentine’s Day weekend (catch up celebrations for Mom’s birthday, Christmas and New Year’s) and took the opportunity to go for a walk on Hwy. 89 from Monitor Junction towards Monitor Pass. The road is closed so lots of folks (walkers, cyclists, mountain bikers) are taking advantage of the scene.

JUST be sure NOT TO PARTAKE if you see signs that read “no bicyclists” or “no pedestrians” hanging on the gate. That means Caltrans has some heavy equipment in there.

AND, as I’ve cautioned many times before in this blog, make sure you have an extraction plan and such in case of emergency. ‘Nuf said.

LOOKING forward to kicking some passes’ asses with you this summer!

Be well, stay safe and ride on.

Begin the New Year With a Bang – Start Your Training For This Summer’s Deathride

REGISTRATION for the 2022 Deathride – Tour of the California Alps has opened! I’m already registered (first thing yesterday morning) and today begins the start of my training; primarily for this “Grandaddy of Them All,” but also for Stetina’s Paydirt (May 21st), and later in the year, the Mammoth Gran Fondo (September 10th).

Challenge yourself to the premier cycling event in California.  The route offers over 14,000′ of climbing,  103 miles, and up to six (6) HC Alpine climbs.  This ride is sure to challenge you, inspire you, and leave you wanting more.

I penned a post in November about what we at the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce hope will be a successful third try at the 40th Annual Tour so if you are perhaps looking for more inspiration, or a bit of addtional information, give it a look-see.

FOR me personally it’s time to shed some of those winter layers of lard, or at least start the rendering process. I took a rest day yesterday, somewhat forced due to the overnindulgence of the night before, and so today begins the work.

Signs of things past; and things to come…

IT was a travesty of epic proportions, last year’s cancellation, yet we have weathered the storm (figuratively and literally) here in Alpine Co. That’s not to say the drama is done by any means, what with Omicron raging, winter fires in Colorado and so much more angst, and anger, throughout our world.

STILL, our Alpine Co. communities have risen to the challenge, as have so many more, and have refused to give in or give up. We continue to bang our heads against the wall, if you will, but we, like you I suspect, have hard heads.

SO let’s get to it and approach the day, the training, and the year, as Coach Harbaugh would say, with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.

THOSE passes are calling, after all.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Tour of the California Alps – Third Time’s the Charm?

YEAH, you’re right, there have been thirty-nine (39) charms really since the Deathride began. It’s those last two (2) attempts that have been problematic. Perhaps then we should say then that it’s the 3rd attempt for the 40th Annual Ride that’s the charm?

OF course, we haven’t had the ride yet so fingers crossed this tertiary try will be that trinket.

THE Alpine County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (full disclosure: I’m a member of the board), along with our Executive Director, Becky Hanson, met last week to discuss, among other things, the 2022 Deathride.

HERE’S what you should know:

  1. The ride will take place on Saturday, July 16th, 2022
  2. The course will be the same as last year’s; no Carson Pass but instead Pacific Grade x 2
  3. Early registration price = $139.00
  4. Registration will open in January!

BECKY has been hard at work dealing with the aftermath of this year’s evacuations (I still can’t believe we had to cancel the day before the ride), swag bag distributions and most recently, insurance claims.

ON that note, here’s a partial excerpt from her email to our Deathride Family, sent yesterday…

While it has been a lengthy process to iron out, we are pleased to inform you that the riders who stuck with us through the 2020 postponement, and to date have not cancelled their registration, will receive a partial refund of registration fees from imATHLETE. 

We do not know the exact date that refunds will go out, but we do know that it will be a credit to the card used to register. In the situation where that card is no longer active, an electronic check will be issued (again, by imATHLETE). It is not a full refund, but we were very pleased to finally get to a resolution and hope this helps you, our loyal riders.

DEATHRIDERS are a special lot, no doubt. I’ve only attempted the ride three (3) times, and completed it once, so I’m really just a rookie. Many of you riders, including my bruddah, Scott Keno (that’s him there with bib no. 1619), have completed it every time they’ve attempted it and have done so many, many times. Scotty has done 8 or 9, I can’t remember. I’m sure there are some of you out there who’ve got even more impressive stats.

IT’S not just the physical feat itself that makes me have so much respect for you TOTCA riders, though. It’s your fortitude. Your friendliness. Your patience. Your support. Your attitude.

LIKE you I suspect, I’ve done many fondos, many centuries; a shitload of organized rides. Yet this one is special. It’s different.

IT’S the location, the elements (you know what they say…If you don’t like the weather here in the Sierra, just wait five (5) minutes), the climbing and the volunteers; but mostly it’s the comraderie.

It’s just a such a special gig.

ALTA Alpina Cycling Club is arranging a training series, cleverly called the “Brush with Death,” for the spring time, so be on the lookout for that announcement.

WE – I’m a member but have no skin in this training series game; the club leadership gets credit for that – tried to do so last year but the pandemic put the kibosh on those plans.

MAYHAPS we’ll do the same here at California Alps Cycling. A few early jaunts over Ebbett’s Pass, Monitor Pass and Pacific Grade couldn’t hurt, right? Okay you’re right, it will hurt but in a good way. If nothing else, we’ll know what level of pain to expect. 😉

SO we’re going to keep at it, and hopefully we’ll actually have the ride next summer, and we’ll see you all again at the Expo.

THIS time though let’s kick some passes’ asses sans those pyrocumulus clouds that are in the pic. at the top of this post, k? I took that photo, by the way, from Carson Pass (that’s Red Lake) the day the ride was supposed to happen.

RIDE on. Be safe. Stay healthy and we’ll see you next year!

What’s the Number One Rule of Cycling? It’s Not What You Think

IT’S “If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen.”

Last week was a week of climbing here in Markleeville. In honor of the Deathride I did three of the five climbs of the legacy DR (i.e. with Carson Pass). Virtually. On Fulgaz. And yes indeedy, I do plan to do the other two this week.

Without high-speed (ahem – even when we have internet here in Markleeville I wouldn’t call it “high-speed”) internet, though. Thanks to a previous hint, courtesy of Fulgaz during its French Tour, I had downloaded all the climbs to my Apple TV (ATV) so I could ride them w/o internet connectivity. Note to self: When our super-fast DSL is back online, download a bunch more rides for future use.

I had to chuckle after ride number 2. Changed kits for the next one and this thought, with the associated Tom Hanks voice, came into my head: “There’s no coasting in (on?) Fulgaz.” Just like there’s no crying in baseball. Well I guess I could have done some coasting on those downsides of the rollers but I was too busy building up speed for the upcoming upsides!

Bad Air = Ride Inside

WITH all the smoke about from the wildfires I’m not really too excited about riding outside. I was able to get a couple rides in the week before last, in the blue-mountain air, but sadly, not so this week.

Not quite as pretty as it usually is at El Dorado Beach (South Lake Tahoe) That wildfire smoke is having a regional impact.

OKAY, so anyway…Friday was Carson Pass with its just over 3000′ of climbing, pain cave fans, and portable A/C, a blazin’! Was a hard ride; I pushed it. Sunday last I did two (2) more. Ebbett’s South (from Hermit Valley up to the pass) and after a short break, Ebbett’s North from Monitor Junction to the top. Those bad boys gave me another 4700′ of climbing.

AND earlier in the week I did one easy ride on Fulgaz, but it did give me another 719 feet of climbing. Hey, it all counts damn it!

Why Am I Telling You This?

I’LL get to the point. After we realized we wouldn’t have our bad-ass internet for awhile we went out and bought our fine-selves a cell-signal booster. Works pretty well. Went from two bars to three, or four. Smart guy here…Just keep reading…Tethered my cell iPad to the computer. Functional. Irritating, especially at certain times of the day, but functional.

I could blog. As long as I didn’t upload photos. That I had to do up at Whorehouse Flats. Yes, you read that correctly. ‘Twas apparently named thusly because there was a house of ill repute located there back in the day. In any case, it has a direct line of sight to Hawkins Peak, where the (only) Verizon cell tower is located, and so there I can upload images. Even though I have the same number of bars as I do at home with the so-called boosted signal.

SIDE NOTE: WHY, pray tell, does it seem to not boost when it’s really, really, supposed to frickin’ boost? Huh? Riddle me that, Batman!

ANYWAY, I’m telling you this to explain the constraints we’re under here without reliable internet. How the hell am I supposed to function without it? How am I supposed to sync my photos; upload my recent cycling quests to Strava; update Fitness Pal with the day’s caloric intake and hydration? C’mon man! It’s impossible and it’s just not fair.

The Gauntlet has Been Thrown Down

SO, here I was, a new member of Chris’s recent Sparks Cycling Challenge Group on Strava, of which the goal is 30000 feet by the end of the month, and I was sucking wind (or more appropriately writ perhaps, sucking elevation), but only because I hadn’t uploaded the past week’s rides! A ha! I had an idea.

I’LL just change my network settings and connect my ATV to my super-boosted iPad (now you’ll understand what I meant earlier about smart guy…) and upload them. Nope. Apple TV won’t recognize a cell hotspot. Makes sense I guess; too much bandwidth needed.

WAIT, I’ll upload them from my FulGaz app. on my iPad. Uh, no, I didn’t download them there. Smart guy downloaded them to the ATV.

WHAT’S next? This week I’m going to take the ATV into South Lake (Tahoe, that is) where I got a really sweet deal at Cowork Tahoe and rented a desk for a month (it’s a pretty cool place as it turns out) so I could do those parts of my job that require FAST internet (meetings, video-conferences, important ca-ca like that…).

I should be able to connect it to the WiFi there, and upload my rides to Strava so I can prove myself worthy. Key word = should. Another should…I should (would) be in 3rd place a/o today had my big week of climbing last week been included.

BUT you know what? If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen!

WE’RE supposed to have our super fast Markleeville internet back sometime before the end of the month. Until then it’s gadget hell. No Netflix. No Apple Plus. No Zwift workouts. No Fulgaz real-time rides. And most put-offingly, no Strava.

I guess if nothing else I can manually enter those rides but that feels like the easy way out, so I shall continue my quest. Maybe. I’m wearing myself out and perhaps I should instead save that energy for the bike.

For Related Musings…

Click here to read a previous post that, now that I look back, was a bit of foreshadowing to my latest travails.

Click here to read more about the Tour of the California Alps (aka the Deathride) climbs and other routes I filmed for Fulgaz.

Click here for a trip down memory lane and a post with some riding and hiking options here in Alpine Co., once the perverbial smoke clears that is – no parking or camping allowed on the local highways currently due to the ongoing Tamarack Fire.

AND a not so related musing but I wanted to share it nonetheless. In last week’s post I wrote briefly about the animal oasis here in the middle of the charred forest. Here’s more evidence of that:

STAY safe, watch out for bears, be good to yourself and others, and let’s kick some passes’ asses! Preferrably the non-smoky ones.

Coming Back to Life in Markleeville – It’s Been a Wild Ride

THE trip back to Chalet Schwartz, aka California Alps Cycling headquarters, was a sobering and somber experience. So much of our forest was now blackened.

AFTER almost ten (10) days of being evacuated (from Friday, July 16th, through Sunday, July 26th) it was great to get back home. It was a surreal experience for sure; Markleeville and Marklee Village were oases in the middle of a charred forest.

WE were lucky…Our generator system did its job and kept my beer and other libations cold, our food fresh and our frozen grub, frozen. The Alpine Co. Sheriff’s Office, as well as other law enforcement, kept our home, and town, secure from both two-legged and four-legged creatures.

Firefighters

THOSE firefighters, though…What a group of individuals! They fought for our town, for our people, for our businesses and for our homes. When the fire blew up, almost overnight, they didn’t give up. They battled and battled. For days. What they did can really never be repaid. As I’ve told those that I have seen since – whatever you need, whenever you need it, we’re your huckleberries.

DOUGLAS County, Nevada, also came through in a big, big way. They opened their facility (the Senior Center in Gardnerville) and most importantly, they opened their hearts. Donations poured in, offers of places to stay for people and animals were proffered, and the kindness and compassion were palpable. To them we also owe a huge debt of gratitude.

WHILE we had power (thanks to Liberty Utilities hooking up a big-ass generator) we did not have internet. Too bad Frontier isn’t like Liberty, whose crews were on sight almost immediately, and even today they were at it. This time, dropping poles by helicopter. Frontier, on the other hand. Haven’t seen ONE truck. Not one. Not to be too cynical but I’m betting we’ll see a bill.

OKAY, enough negativity. Karma…

My Mental State

ADMITTEDLY, I’ve had a very hard time this past week. I tried to work on Monday but it was almost impossible without decent internet; my cell phone just didn’t have enough of a signal to act as a hotspot.

TO the rescue came our friends Mike and Eileen. They offered us their home in South Lake Tahoe for the week. And we are also oh so grateful for our dear friends Chris and Shyanne, who offered us their home in Spanish Springs last weekend as a little getaway. My wife and I, and our two (2) cats, took advantage and headed north for a couple days, leaving Mom and her cat, Baxter, in the hotel in Minden.

BUT last Tuesday morning I found myself packing up. Again. My wife and I made the trek to South Lake. I thought it was the right thing to do (it was work-wise) but my psyche said otherwise. I found myself in tears Tuesday night, asking myself what the hell I was doing. I came to the realization that I needed to be home and so Wednesday, after a decent workday, I did go home.

BACK to South Lake I went Thursday but I couldn’t focus. I didn’t care. I had no spark; I was just flat. Was this PTSD?

IT wasn’t just the fire I now knew. It was the loss of the Deathride, the possible prostate cancer diagnosis (thankfully I found out the Saturday after we evacuated that it WASN’T cancer), the pandemic (and so no 2020 Deathride) and the almost constant fear of another fire. All of that combined with almost ten (10) days of worrying about our home took a serious toll on my mental health. I understood that I needed some help and I’ve since begun that process.

HERE I am a few days later and I’m certainly feeling more like myself. The anxiety is still there although it’s not as pervasive as it was. Getting back to a somewhat normal routine, including a ride yesterday and another today, has truly helped. Being home, getting some things put away, doing some household chores and putting it in some sort perspective has made a difference.

OUR local businesses, including the Cutthroat, have been closed, but today the Cutthroat was open. There’s a sign of recovery!

An Animal Oasis and a New Beginning

OTHER signs abound, too. Black-eyed Susan’s and their cheery blooms. A flock of mergansers on the East Carson. Two velvet-antlered bucks just across the road yesterday morning. Allen’s hummingbirds putting on a daily show just off the deck. And the bears. While they can be a bit of a nuisance (ask my neighbor whose freezer and garbage can they overturned yesterday), in a strange way their renewed presence is reassuring.

AND Tuesday is the first of many meetings that we Markleevillians will have as we begin the healing and rebuilding process. As a community.

THAT will be an oh so awesome start…

Deathride 2021 – After-action Report

WELL, this isn’t exactly the after-action report I’d hoped I’d be writing; rather than regaling you with tales of the ride I am instead addressing the Tamarack Fire’s impact on the ride.

LAST Friday I, along with a bunch of other vendors, were at the Expo and basking in the glory of the next day’s event when at approximately 2:00 p.m. we noticed a plume of smoke rising to our southwest. In speaking with the local LEOs (Alpine Co. Sheriff’s Dept. deputies) on site I learned that it wasn’t the Henry Fire, but instead a new fire, what would later become the Tamarack Fire.

WE (vendors, organizers, etc.) kept doing our thing and hoped that the fire would be knocked down quickly.

IT was such a great time talking with riders who knew me and came by to introduce themselves and tell me how much they enjoyed reading about our adventures in the California Alps. I was making some sales, and giving riders tips on what to expect the next day.

AT about 3:00 p.m. I called in for extraction from the Expo as the fire was looking pretty nasty. The below image is what I saw when I got home. We already had items staged and go-bags handy so we began gathering other items in anticipation of the forthcoming evacuation.

The fire just getting going on the afternoon of Friday, July 16th. In the photo it’s about 2.5 miles southwest of our home/CAC HQ.

ACROSS the street, at the firestation that temporarily became Deathride central, the team was still hard at work loading the trucks for distribution throughout the course. We had yet to receive the evacuation order. These pics were taken Thursday.

MY family and I, along with our cats, as well as the residents, campers, riders and other visitors, were all evacuated safely and calmly at approximately 5:00 p.m. thanks to the great planning and swift and efficient execution of the evac. plan by the Alpine County Sheriff’s Dept. and the Alpine Co. Volunteer Fire Dept.

WE were heartbroken. Not just for the riders and the community but also for the Deathride team that had worked so hard to get us to this point. Life can be cruel. No ride last year due to the pandemic and this year, the day before the ride…

The after…Our booth was destroyed but some anchors are still holding. 🙂
Notice the blackened forest behind.

AS usual, though, the community rose to the challenge as did Curtis Fong (Ride Director), Di (Asst. Ride Director) and their teams. On Sunday, the day after the ride was supposed to take place, we were unloading trucks at the Douglas County Senior Center (evacuation central). There were cases of watermelons, bananas, oranges, PB&J sandwiches, drinks, snacks and more that the Chamber donated to the community. Becky DeForest, Exec. Director of the Chamber, and I, moved items from inside the trailers so that others could shlep them into the center.

Hot spot map as of 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

ON the other side of the county, Terry Woodrow, one of the county supervisors (her district includes Bear Valley) was, in addition to her usual duties, distributing water to fire crews in the area.

WE are so grateful that there were no deaths or serious injuries and as of the writing of this post (Weds. a.m.) that is still the case.

IF you’d like to help out, the Chamber has set up a GoFundMe page. Click here to go there.

FOR the latest information on the fire, click here to view the Tamarack Fire page on Facebook, the official page set up by Alpine County.

PLEASE send thoughts and prayers to all of those effected by this tragedy, as well as those throughout the country, and world, dealing with their own emergencies.

Six Days Until the Deathride! Here are 5 Things for Your Knowledge Base

IT’S going to be epic! Six categorized climbs in the heart of the Sierra. Just over 100 miles, with 14000 feet of climbing. Add the elevation, hot temps and some wind; and throw in a stray thunderstorm or two (fingers crossed that won’t happen but it often does) and that’s why this ride, formally known as “The Tour of the California Alps,” is nicknamed “The Deathride.”

I’VE done the ride three (3) times and finished it once. I’ve not ridden Pacific Grade, however, and didn’t get a chance to do so last weekend, so for those of you who are going to take that bite out of the burrito I wish you well!

Some Intel on the Other Four Climbs

MONITOR PASS west will be your first climb of the day. While fairly short (9 miles), the first 3.5 miles will test your mettle. The steepest part of the climb does have a couple flat spots where you can catch your breath and once you’re up to Heenan Lake it gets easier. That’s not to say it’s easy, though so pace yourself on that first pitch, and on the entire first climb.

MONITOR PASS east is typically a cooker. The sun rises from the east and so for those of you leaving Turtle Rock Park around 5:30ish, depending on your fitness and such, you’ll be heading up the east side around 8:00 a.m. or so. Not too hot but certainly not cool, either. There’s really no shade on this climb (except for Boy Scout Corner) so combine that with the rising sun and well, you get the idea. It’s important to stay hydrated!

EBBETT’S PASS north is my favorite local climb. It’s longer than either side of Monitor (13 miles as compared to 9) but not nearly as exposed, and up until you get to just below Raymond Meadow Creek, it’s not too hilly. The real climbing starts just below RMC (which is at the 7000′ mark), about five (5) miles in, with a 12% pitch, and from there you get lots of up, with some good rollers added for good measure.

That’s Kinney reservoir behind me. Took this selfie in August of 2016 – T’was my first trip to Ebbetts Pass and I was amazed that I had made it. Plus the view is pretty cool.

ONCE you get to Kinney Reservoir, it’s only a mile to the summit. Don’t get cocky, though, as there are a couple last minute rollers to challenge you.

A five (5) mile descent into Hermit Valley will give you a bit of a respite from the climbing, and the heat (it will definitely be getting toasty by then – high 80’s expected in Markleeville), but from there it’s up and over Pacific Grade – the first time.

THEN you get to turn around and come up the west side of PG. I’ve heard it’s a grinder so be prepared. Keep up your caloric intake throughout the morning so you’ve still got the poop left to pedal up that west side of Hwy. 4 and don’t forget to down that H2O when needed (or before, right?).

AS for that last five (5) miles from Hermit Valley to Ebbett’s Pass, that’s a section I know well, having ridden it quite a few times, including once for a FulGaz video. It’s short, yet sweet; rock candy kinda sweet. 😉 Once you’re topped out though, it’s a rollicking 13 mile descent to Monitor Junction; and from there, only about eight (8) miles to the finish.

REMEMBER, while the “passes” are closed to vehicles, there will be riders coming down while you come up and vice-versa so please keep it in your lane and pass slower riders with caution. For you fast descenders, stay in control of your steed and please BOLO for those riders who are on their way up.

Closed Roads – Ahhh

YUP, no cars on the climbs! BUT, let’s not forget that our four-tired friends will be in the lanes between Monitor Junction (MJ) and Turtle Rock Park (TRP).

I found that much easier to keep in mind on the leg from TRP to MJ whereas on the return leg I have caught myself spacing out and venturing into the lanes, forgetting after so many hours without cars, that there are indeed vehicles on the road after Monitor Junction, all the way into town and up to Turtle Rock. Do stay focused on that last stretch.

Road Conditions

RoadsideS around Turtle Rock Park are weed-whacked and ready for those of you who wish stake your claim on Hwy. 89.

I’VE been riding quite a bit lately on Hwy. 4, and some on Hwy. 89, and there are some small rockfalls and there were a few slides. Caltrans though, as usual, has things cleaned up nicely. There are always rocks of some sort on the roads aound here, however, so it pays to be vigilant, especially on the descents.

BRIDGEWORK is a popular thing right now in Alpine County, including two (2) projects in progress on the route. The Markleeville Bridge being the first, and the second bridge over Silver Creek on Hwy. 4 (about 10-miles from Markleeville) being the second.

WHILE we locals are excited about the work being done, especially the replacement of the Markleeville bridge, we’ll definitley wait until after the Deathride. And so will the crews. They’ll be back a week or two afterwards so no worries for the riders.

Air Quality and Weather Conditions

THE East Fork Fire is at 1136 acres and 95% contained. This one wasn’t too far from Markleeville so it was a bit disconcerting. CalFire was all over it though and so it’s no longer producing any smoke. The crews were stationed at Turtle Rock Park (another slight worry since that’s where the Expo and ride start/finish is) but they have recently departed.

THERE is a small fire in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, due east, and quite a ways from Lake Alpine. It’s the “Henry Fire” and is only 300 acres at this point, but only 13% contained. I didn’t notice any smoke on my ride this a.m., though.

THE Beckwourth Complex fire is sending quite a bit of smoke into Washoe Valley (Reno) but as of this morning it had not mades it’s way into Carson Valley or parts south.

IT’S been hot! I’ve been whining. But, based on the latest weather report it should be significantly cooler come next weekend. Thankfully. Be sure to bring lots of “hydrate-ables!”

Remember, you can get the current weather and air quality conditions right here!

Grinds, Swag and Tunes at the Expo

“Enjoy live music,  games, massage, and more! Friday meal options will be BBQ from Out West Café. Saturday after-ride meal will be traditional and local Indian Tacos. Complimentary after-ride ice cream for all participants.”

BEER of course will be quaffable, courtesy of the Alpine County Fire Safe Council and Sierra Nevada.

THERE will be activities for the kittens, too! Click here and take a gander at the Deathride Expo Page.

Also note that “…packet pickup is Friday from 11AM-7PM, and on Saturday from 11AM-6:30PM.”

California Alps Cycling will have a booth, staffed by yours truly, and a couple other C.A.C. members who like me, have lots of local riding, fishing and bullshitting experience. I’ll have some vintage C.A.C. gear on sale. Cheap…Since new kits are on order.

Last but certainly not least…

A huge community effort goes into making the ride a success. From the crew captains to the members of the rest stops, many, many locals volunteer their time to make this ride what it is. Please do thank them when you seen them around and a big ol’ shout out to you too, dear rider. We couldn’t do it without YOU!

SAFE travels!

Deathride Dreaming Redux – 17 Days and Counting!

READY to join the Tombstone Club? That’s the name “the ride” has given to those riders who complete the entire course this year.

SAID phrase will be emblazoned on your jersey and you’ll be able to wear your own “mellow johnny” (that’s how my 2017 finisher’s jersey feels to me) for years to come.

Final Preparations

I stopped by the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce yesterday to handle some Deathride business (co-signing of a few checks for various vendors) and the team was hard at work putting labels on DR merch and handling some of those other last-mile items.

SPEAKING of final preparations…California Alps Cycling is a Silver Sponsor of the ride this year and I too am getting ready for the event – I’ll be at the exposition on Friday the 16th. As for Saturday…I’m not quite sure what my hours will be.

Me and my shadow taking a break on Hwy. 4 just south of Chalmer’s Mansion

At the Exposition

WE’LL have our kits for sale – with some deep discounts to be had since new ones are on order – as well as some tees and other goodies.

Current “vintage” jersey
The new kits and such, with an included homage to my adopted home town, Markleeville.

AND as you’ve likely noticed, we’re making the leap from Castelli to Pedal Mafia. I’ve been wearing the P.M. kit and it’s a cut above I must say – the quality of ASSOS with a better fit, especiallly for those of us who are not of the typical rider physique.

THE thermal jacket (top left) is amazing! I’ve worn it several times, including just yesterday. I left HQ at 6:30 a.m. and it was about 45 degrees. Did a 12.5 mile TT, uphill, so I was sweating pretty well at the turn around. The descent was initially chilly but the jacket was a wicking wonder and by the time I got back down it felt dry. And, it still kept Aeolus at bay. Perfect for riding in the Sierra, or other cold climes.

SADLY, I won’t have the new kits at the Deathride but you will be able to pre-order them.

WHETHER you can give us some of your heard earned ducats or not, please be sure to stop by our booth and have a chat.

New Bling for the Pick-em Up Truck

Yeah, it was time and Mike at Arrowhead Signs in Gardnerville, NV was a master of the install. ‘Twas he that helped me design what we call the “aspen logo” when we first launched California Alps Cycling. He’s also the one that designed this year’s Deathride logo. He’s been a great friend of the Deathride for many years. Thanks Mike!

The Deathride Slacker Ride

WE’RE going to do a MEMBERS ONLY group ride, starting at 8:00 a.m., on the day of the Deathride. I’m calling it “The Deathride Slacker Ride” and am giving it that nom de guerre not because we’re slackers in general but because we’re not doing the entire ride this year.

FOR various reasons (lack o’ fitness, injury, etc.) several of us just don’t have the juice. A ride up Hwy. 4 to Ebbett’s Pass (climb #3 of 6 on the day) will be just fine for our merry band of troublemakers. Please note that you must be registered for the Deathride (and have the requisite bib number) to participate. This mostly because I don’t want to “bandit” the rest and water stops.

AFTERWARDS we’ll head back to town, likely with a stop at the Cutthroat Brewing Company for a cold beverage, and then we’ll park our fine selves in town (or perhaps at Turtle Rock Park) and cheer on those riders that are fit enough to conquer the entire course.

BY the way, if you’re not a member and would like to become one we’d love to have you. It’s an inexpensive way to give back to the Markleeville and Bear Valley communities where we all ride. Go to our Membership page for more information.

Congrats to the Manx Missile

WHAT a stage that was yesterday! I’ve been a fan of Mark Cavendish since his early days but I really didn’t expect THAT! Such fortitude – to come back from years of trials and tribulations and get to “The Tour” is one thing. To win a sprint against some of the best riders in the world. Yowza!

My Cav. edition Jawbreakers, which have always inspired me and now even more so!

NEXT week I’ll post up some quick tips on four (4) of the six (6) climbs. Perhaps all six (6). I haven’t ridden Pacific Grade yet but am hoping to this weekend.

STAY tuned for that as well as the 411 on the weather and the fishing.

UNTIL then, stay safe, ride with passion and “Go Cav!”