WITH the big day less than one (1) week out it I’m feeling it. No doubt the rest of the team is, too. The Deathride, the most iconic ride in the California Alps, and dare I say, one the most iconic in the country, if not the world, is a great source of pride for the community, or communities, of Alpine County, and the 42nd “riding” takes place this Saturday, July 15th.
IT takes a village to put on such a logistical feat, and this year, being hornswoggled into the event director role, I’ve gotten a perspective that I’ve never seen before. Like most of you I suspect, I’ve ridden a bunch of centuries and gran fondos. Getting a behind the scenes look as to what goes into making such an event happen, though? Nope. That’s a new one.
As I mentioned, I have the distinct (and somewhat scary) privilege of being the event director for this year’s ride. Funny…Mrs. California Alps Cycling and I moved here because of the Tour of the California Alps, but I never thought I’d be helping lead such a renown ride. Just figured I’d be riding it. Hopefully for years to come. But here in our small community it’s easy to get involved. We run on grants, with sweat-equity provided by volunteers for the most part (with some notable exceptions), and as such many of us wear many hats.
THE work, though…that’s being done by a small, yet mighty team. Some of whom are volunteers and some of whom are paid. They are, in alpha order, Michael “Bullet Points” Bayer; Corey “Chill” Bolton; Di “Bodhi” Bolton; Melissa “No Friction” Edwards; Kate “Technokid” Harvey; Dave “Register, Damn It” Scarborough, and Meghan “Numbers” Wolff. They have no idea I’ve given them these nicknames. I hope they don’t kick me in the hiney tomorrow when we all get together to kick off what is sure to be an awesome, yet challenging, week. More chillingly, I wonder what nickname they’ll give me.
Deathride Hell Week
TOMORROW, the crucible begins with a walk-through of the “flows” of the expo on both Friday and Saturday. It also starts the week of deliveries and set up. Check in stations arrive tomorrow. Generators, too. The expo store buildings are coming in on Tuesday. Dumpsters get delivered on Wednesday. The ice truck, and the all-important ice cream, come in on Thursday. The port-a-potties portage begins on Thursday and continues through Friday. Di is picking up a truck Monday, a van on Wednesday, and another truck on Thursday.
MERCHANDISE has been, and is still coming in. Jerseys, tees, pins, bib numbers, glasses, cups, food of all sorts.
Such a great kit it’s scary!
EQUIPMENT needs to be tested. Swag bags for the riders (about 1300) need to be stuffed. Posters need to be hung.
LOGISTICS are a huge lift, as you might imagine. Getting all of that stuff to the aid stations, water stations and the lunch stop is a real feat. Up and over Monitor, and Ebbett’s, to Lake Alpine, and points in between. In some cases these deliveries take place in the middle of the night or just before sunrise. Some crews camp out so they can set up, warm food and be ready for those early, Sierra-chilled, riders.
OVERSEEING the distribution of the right stuff to the right places in the right order, and then “undistributing” (i.e., reversing and re-schlepping) all that paraphernalia back into the trucks, and then back to command central takes an outfit, let me tell you. Some of “Di’s volunteers” have been at this for decades.
SUNDAY after the big day many of us meet at Turtle Rock Park and unpack the trucks. Back into storage things go. Signage, bike racks, coolers, stoves, tables, flags, cones, and on and on. Left over food gets examined and what’s safe to donate (most of it) is re-packed and delivered to local food banks.
WHILE the ride generates six-figure revenue it is by no means a profit generator. At least for the Chamber of Commerce. “Numbers” oversees our ducats, both for the Chamber and for the ride, and yours truly gets to countersign some of those large checks.
THOUSANDS of dollars for food, insurance, permits, and more. Just some examples:
- Post-ride meal for the riders: $21k
- Lunch sandwiches: $6k
- Trucks and van: $1500
- Caltrans Encroachment Permit (so we can close the roads): $7800 last year, and could be twice that much this year. Don’t have the bill yet. Cha-ching! 😉
$33,000. That’s how much we contributed to the volunteer organizations that helped us last year. Boy Scouts, Alpine Co. Fire Safe Council, Elks, Alpine Co. Search and Rescue, Tahoe Amateur Radio Assoc., and Woodford’s Volunteer Firefighter’s Association, just to name a few. This year will be no different.
ALPINE county businesses benefit from the influx of riders, too. By the end of the week, more people will have registered for the ride than live in all of Alpine County. Not kidding. Just under 1200 live in the county and we’re figuring to have about 1300 riders. With their support crews, the town of Markleeville sees and supports thousands of people that it doesn’t usually see. Hotels are full and campgrounds will be overflowing. It’s wild!
FOR the leadership team it’s been weeks of Zoom meetings (7:30 a.m. Tuesdays) and a bunch of in-person meetings. And that doesn’t include the individual meetings and phone calls that each of the team leaders is hosting or having.
LOCAL agencies, from the Alpine Co. Sheriff’s Office, to the California Highway Patrol, to Caltrans, to REMSA (ambulance and helicopter), to the Alpine Co. Volunteer Firefighters, to Community Development, to the Health Dept., and on it goes. We all met a couple weeks ago to make sure those safety-related plans were in place. Check.
A CAPTAIN’S meeting took place that same night at one of our local fire stations. Dozens of folks from all over the county came in to Woodfords so they could all sync-up. Ham radio operators, aid-station staffers, retail store personnel, registration greeters; all were there, and well-fed by Mad Dog Cafe. Cha-ching! 😉
PERMITS are a big deal. Two (2) are key: the Caltrans Encroachment Permit and the Alpine Co. Special Event Permit. Don’t get either. Don’t have a ride. While a stressful process (admittedly some of that brought on ourselves) it was made much more palatable by the agencies we worked with to get those permits. Coming down to the wire we were but we were able (obviously) to secure those permits. Big thanks to Alpine County Community Development, the Alpine Co. Planning Commission and Caltrans for patiently working with our team and supporting our efforts.
Let’s Rock and Roll!
BEAR Valley is ready. Markleeville is too. Speaking of ready…The roads are rough and ready after this past winter. By the end of the day Thursday, we’ll be ready too.
SLEEP? We’ll do that on Monday the 17th.