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Old 07-29-2013, 09:56 PM   #30256
kbasa
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Alright. Up the first pass, which is Monitor Pass. It's starting to get light out now and, as it is during any climb, folks are starting to get bunched up. The road is completely closed, so we're able to get out in the middle of the road to get around slower riders.

The climb is long and steep and is, I believe, the most difficult of the three. Basically, we're going to climb up and over Monitor, then down to Rt. 395, then back up and over so we get to do the whole thing twice.

Here in bicycle world, climbs get categorized, based on their duration and grade percentage. Grade refers to how much climbing you do for every foot forward you roll. Roads are never, ever a standard and stable climb like a railroad. They're pitchy. This one has a couple Category 4 climbs, but up at the top, we hit both Cat 1 and HC (so steep they don't categorize them!) sections.

At the top, we got our first sticker. As you hit each pass, they give you a sticker to provide you made it. Sticker 1 is done. If you want, click through the table to the full and painful description. Strava is calling it a Cat 1 climb. It sure felt like it.

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Old 07-29-2013, 09:56 PM   #30257
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Over the top and down to 395 is a blast. The descent is long and sweeping and we bomb it on down. At the bottom is the first SAG we're going to hit. We could have stopped at the top, but with an easy 20 minute coast down the hill, we bypass SAG and get water and food at the bottom. There are bikes everywhere, the sun is up and everyone still looks pretty fresh. It's awfully beautiful.



And, we get our second sticker. Boom. 40% complete, right? Wrong. Strava categorizes the climb back up an HC, meaning that it's really, really hard. It's ten miles and we are at 5+% the entire way. It's beautiful climbing up and for much of the climb we can see where we've come from, way back down there on 395.



Here's Kurt and I, still looking a bit fresh compared to later in the day.

Yeah, I know. Date and time. A fellow Team member took it.

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Old 07-29-2013, 09:57 PM   #30258
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I'm typing this on my iPad, so bear with me.

We drop down the west side of Monitor, which is terrific. The views are great and the sun is lighting everything up wi this cool pinkish light. The trees up here grow in little patches, which provides nice wide vistas. The road is smooth and fast and it's easy to be rolling.

On the way down, I see people that are only a little way up the hill and are already walking.

They're in for a long day. My coach remarks, as we're heading over to Ebbetts, "There are people out here that really shouldn't be."

See that square sign about halfway down Jim's picture? That's where I got my sticker. The rest area was on the right, right there.
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:58 PM   #30259
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We roll along the river for a while, heading over a few miles to the base of Ebbetts. There's a rest area set up on the flats and its a circus. Lots of folks are stopping, so we take a pass. Up the road a bit, there's a spot to water up and grab some food and it should be clearer than the flats.

On the start of the climb, where the road tarts to pitch up, there's a camp on the right side of the road. We hear it first - SWEET HOME ALABAMA, LORD IM COMING HOME YOU!" Rolling up to the camp there four women on a cattle chute dressed like "I dream of Jeannie" and dancing their asses off. They're clearly smashed and the cheer us on. A bit further, there's a giant granite outcropping that's probably 3 or 4 stories tall. A teenage girl is sitting on top, not saying a word, holding a sign that says "Ebbetts Summit - 5.9 miles". It feels really ominous after the Ebbetts Pass Wild Women.

Here's the strava segment: http://app.strava.com/segments/4235419

Some people have ridden this road and know what's coming up. We round a bend with a little graveyard on the left and as the trees part, the just pitches UP. There are groans that, if you stood at that spot would probably be just a continuous low moan of recognizing impending pain. I call it an asphalt tsunami and a guy next to me lets loose a little sighing groan. Up. Here we go. The pavement is smooth, but it steep and oddly rolling at the same time. A thrilling descent is ahead, but there two climbs between here and there.

We roll through a park, and the campers are out sitting in lawn chairs watching the riders and cheering us on. Here we are. Middle of nowhere and we have spectators. Wow.

I get about halfway up the climb, to Cadillac Corner. They have water, so we pull in. At the same time a SAG guy rolls in on K12GT, so I compliment his bike. He asks if we want some ice out of his cooler. You bet! Now we have cold Cytomax! And cold Nuun!

You can see all the riders. It's been like this for a while, probably 3 or so miles.



We're climbing up through pine forests, so we're shaded in parts, which is great. Up we go and a set of big hairpins give us some short steep burst on the inside. Riders are already coming back, gradually increasing in volume. At first, people are yelling "Rider UP" and the calls echo up and down the switchbacks. Eventually, there are so many bikes that nobody bothers anymore.

We cross the ridgeline and the rod hugs a cliff face on the left for a while. The scenery over here is different. There's a giant canyon to the right and the sound of a waterfall carries across. We hit a lake and more folks are just hanging out watching. The road has been closed since 5:30, so these folks have been up here a while.

Eventually, we get to the top and it's time for sticker 3 - 3rd summit. This place is a zoo. Everyone has had their ass kicked, so they're stopping right before a long descent. Why? The descent is about 5 miles and the pavement is great, so we drop on down. The stop at the bottom is for the fourth sticker, which we will then earn on the way back out.

These guys have peanut butter and honey sandwiches. And small cans of Coke. And orange slices. They have big Igloo Cytomax dispensers and as we're all waiting, someone farts, which brings a round of Cytomax fart jokes and accusations.



Time to get back up and over, so we saddle up and hit it.
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:59 PM   #30260
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OK, so where was I? Sorry for the long interruption. Vacation time and being off on the RT kind of distracted me.

In any case, we've been up and over Monitor and have been up and over Ebbetts and down to Hermit Flats, where we turn around and start heading back up. This is our fourth big climb of the day and is, in my opinion, my least favorite. It's hot by now and the roadway is completely exposed. After climbing somewhere in the 8-10K range at this point, we're starting to get pretty tired and the climb is much quieter. Most of the fast guys/gals have already moved well ahead and are out of the way. The road is narrow, probably 1.8 cars wide, so we're constantly watching for descending riders as we pass slower riders.

By now, the air has that Sierras smell, a mixture of dead grass, pine needles and mountain flowers as it warms up. I've long since shed my shell and arm warmers, but now it's time to put my sun sleeves on so I don't get burned. It takes an hour or so to climb back up to the summit of Ebbetts, which is still a shit show. The pass is narrow at the top and people are just wandering around in the road. I've caught a woman a ways back and as we approach the summit I start yelling at people to get out of the way. They're in kind of a stupor by now and are completely unaware of where they are, what they're doing and the fact that they're just standing around in the middle of the road. I start yelling "CLEAR THE ROAD", "MAKE WAY", "RIDERS BACK" and acting like a general asshole. I hear the woman following me laughing. As we break out and start descending, I start laughing and she says "Nice job!"

The descent is made of a series of chapters, in my mind. The top is steep and pitchy, with short sightlines, but no hairpins. The pavement is marginal with patches and other ugliness. When we get down to the lake, the pavement is wider, but still has sections where the pavement has been sort of peeled off, leaving large lily pad sized holes that are about a half inch deep, but covered with pavement inside the depression. One of those caught one of my team mates during training, which earned him an evacuation by MrsK and a trip to the hospital in Minden, NV. I'm careful on this part, being prudent with speed, even though I'm getting passed by folks with more testosterone than I have. The final couple sections are more open and the bottom section, where the double yellow line reappears, is smooth and fast. I love that part. As I'm dropping down the hill, now on the smooth fast part, I spot the Wild Women waltzing down the street, still singing, still cranking rock and roll and still cheering like mad.

At the bottom is the lunch spot and it's a circus too. Folks drunk on endorphins are wandering around in a daze. The food is, in a word, miserable, but the sandwich they feed me is tolerable and they have more orange slices. Time for more Chamois Butt'R after lunch and we're off to get this done and finish the last pass, Carson. Sorry. No pictures, but suffice to say that it was a bunch of sweaty folks standing around in the shade trying to get their shit together enough to get back on their bike and leave.

Time to roll. It's about 2pm and we've probably been on the bike for about 8 or 9 hours by now. My ass is killing me, but there's no fucking way I'm not going to get this done. The cutoff time out of Pickett's is 5:15. It's about 20 miles away, mostly uphill and I've got a couple hours to get there.
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:59 PM   #30261
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I really thought the worst part would be the climbing. Honest. I girded myself for long climbs, which worked out well. I can sit there and crank up a hill for an hour or two and it doesn't bother me, at least not much.

But the transit stage is what gets me on this ride. We roll along the river for a while, then some rollers, then we're through Markleeville, where we start seeing people sitting outside along the road in lawn chairs, cheering us on. It's really what one needs at that time of the day. Food reserves are gone. Adrenalin is NLA from your body - it's all gone. Any liquid that you consume tastes like orange flavored anti-freeze. Yet there's still this decent transit and a ton of climbing left. The climb up Carson itself is a couple thousand feet, but that's from where the actual climb starts. You still have to climb up from the MOnitor/Ebbetts area to where the climb starts.

It's mentally tough. My coach has been preaching all season about not stopping at your car (we're riding right by them), not having lunch with your family, not stopping at any SAG unless you really need to. It's important to keep your brain on task and in the event. That said, the TNT team has set an EZUP along the way and we're looking for it before Carson.

I spot the purple canopy and we roll in. Tina's there, along with the team manager, Lisa and when Tina looks at me, says "I'm so proud of you, honey" I just about lose my shit right there and start bawling. I'm mentally fragged. I ask her for a small can of Coke, a V8, more water/CytoMax, a peanut butter sandwich and some orange slices. I empty my pockets of lights and clothing I dont' need and Kurt and I roll again. I roll out thinking that I need to be at the top of Carson by 5:15, so I'm launching the afterburners to get up there, trying not to spend all the rent. I drop Kurt on a big descent and get up to the turn left at Woodford's, which is where the Carson Climb begins. There's a SAG there, but I"m only a few miles from where TNT was, so I don't stop. They do, however, have a bunch of young ladies with a garden hose. The drill is to ride through and raise your hand if you want to get hosed down as you ride through. I do. It's magnificent and I head out.

Rolling out of there, I catch a guy wearing a Harpoon Brewing jersey. A Yankee. One of my people. We talk for a while. He's from Connecticut. We talk about beer as we're climbing and eventually, I drop him. Climb. Climb. Climb. After all the descending, my hands are starting to give me a hard time. They're sore and I can't muster much strength in them to shift or squeeze a water bottle. The water bottle is the only part that matters. I"m mostly on the small ring up front and the big one on that back. Climb. Climb. Climb. Passed by some, passing others. The road is unprotected, so this is all going on in the sun, which is now at the full heat of the day.

At a little after 4pm, I roll into Pickett's, the last SAG before the final summit. As I'm approaching the stop, I catch one of my team mates. I ask him how he's doing as we go by and he catches a huge leg cramp just before the stop. He screams, falls over and by the time I can get stopped, he's already being tended to by the EMTs. It turns out that they wanted to give him an IV and take him to the hospital. He refused, spent 30 minutes in the SAG and finished the ride. HTFU!

At Pickett's, they have giant trays of chilled kosher dill pickles alongside the usual stuff. I eat a few. Salty. Moist. Crunchy. Not the sweet stuff I've been eating or drinking all day. It's a treat. I look at my phone, which says that' it's now 4:27. I"m thinking that the summit is still 7 or 8 miles away and I have 45 minutes to summit. Tina's in this SAG, too, checking on my team and making sure everyone is OK. I tell her I"m rolling out and find my coach Kurt and let him know, too. I'm determined to finish this.

Back on the bike. My ass is killing me from 10+ hours pedaling. My hands hurt and have no strength. Legs feel OK, to be honest. Back is killing me. Off we go.

The ride up to Carson is a long flattish section, followed by a long, long gradual, like 5 or 6%, grade. I'm working my way up. Slowly. The sun is hot and I'm pretty scorched by it by now. There's no hiding from it, like in those scenes in Lawrence of Arabia. Along the way, I try to pull my water bottles out and squeeze them, but the hands are angry and aren't happy and I can't squeeze hard enough to get the water out.

I have a thing about hills and that's that there is No Stopping. It's like in Apocalypse Now when the guy gets out of the boat and there's a tiger in the woods. He comes running back to the boat screaming "Don't get out of the boat!" I'm like that with hills - don't get off the bike. If you get off the bike, it's going to suck when you get back on. Just do it. Ride it up there.

But this ride forces me to stop twice. My hands are crampy and I can't squeeze the bottles hard enough to get water out, so I stop twice to water up. Both times, cars and SUVs with people in them, primarily women, are driving alongside the riders, encouraging them to the top. There's a big parking lot on the side of the road and three women have set up their Durango and are blasting tunes at full volume, ringing cowbells and screaming "GO GO GO! YOU CAN DO IT! YOU"RE ALMOST THERE! 2 MILES!" as the riders crawl up. As we close on Carson, the pass is such that you can see a solid couple miles of the climb. Ahead, you can see other riders. They look like ants way up there and, at some point, even the big semis look like ants up there. And it's got to be climbed. At the top - there's the goal of seven months of training. A couple thousand miles of riding. Cold wet Saturdays. Nights in the gym. I think about all the shit I did and I think about all the folks that donated and I get back on the bike in a few seconds, clip in and head out again.

A couple times, Tina rolls by and she's yelling Go Honey Go! out the window and I'm there. I know it. At the same time, I'm still thinking that the pass closes at 5:15 and I'm probably past that time, but riders are still coming down and none of the riders around me are turning back. So. Up. More. Give. Me. More. I think that even if I get timed out, I'm going to take my picture by the sign at the summit and then I'm just going to lay down on the side of the road, stick my face in that sharp, granite rubble and know that I rode that thing and that even though I didn't get a sticker, I still got up that freaking thing.

Riders are coming down at a good clip now and they're yelling over to us to GO GO GO and the rock and roll cheerleading team is cruising up and down the pass yelling it out the windows and cranking tunes like AC/DC and Metallica and other sort of chugging weighty music. It mirrors the way my quads are starting to feel and the droning chords fit perfectly with my mood of grinding progress.

And then I'm at the edge of the topmost pullout. And I'm not really looking up at the road. I'm on that chunk of the road and I'm there. I'm totally THERE. This point. This is the goal. This is the focus of so much time, so much thought, so much of my life for 7 months.

I roll up to the lanes to get my sticker and it appears that no, I have not been timed out. The 5:15 time wasn't the time to get to the top, but the time you needed to me out of Pickett's. Hell. Yes. I did it. Oh, I rode that whole freaking thing and it tried to break my legs, then my soul, but there it is. I have finished the Death Ride. All 5 freaking passes.

I stop and the guy fixes a sticker to my number and gives me a huge smile. A woman is doing something, maybe recording my number? I dunno, but she's all smiles, too. They both congratulate me and the guy gives me a pat on the shoulder and looks me in the eye when he says congratulations. I start to clip in, but he says hang on and reaches into the toolbelt pouch and pulls this out.



There it is. I'm a genuine 5 Pass Finisher.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:00 PM   #30262
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I had to add a bunch of stuff to that post. Sorry.

Number - with all 5 stickers.

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Old 07-30-2013, 02:06 AM   #30263
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Kbasa that is awesome
More power to ya
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Old 07-30-2013, 04:31 AM   #30264
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+1 thanks for sharing your adventure
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Old 07-30-2013, 06:18 AM   #30265
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Seems the Army thinks riding a bicycle is suicide.

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Old 07-30-2013, 06:20 AM   #30266
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Seems the Army thinks riding a bicycle is suicide.

M
To be fair, I'm pretty sure they mandate hi-viz vests to all motorcyclists while riding on base.
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Old 07-30-2013, 06:28 AM   #30267
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To be fair, I'm pretty sure they mandate hi-viz vests to all motorcyclists while riding on base.
Yeah, you can be in one piece and still get pulled over for not having that stupid vest trust me I've had it happen.

One of the sites I occasionally work at qualifies as a Navy base, its a building with a fence around the parking lot...that is it. STILL need the stupid fucking vest because the parkinglot qualifies as "riding on base" all of the ex-military guys, many of us with stickers still on our bikes just park outside the gate and walk in, because fuck that vest.
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Old 07-30-2013, 07:11 AM   #30268
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I roll up to the lanes to get my sticker and it appears that no, I have not been timed out. The 5:15 time wasn't the time to get to the top, but the time you needed to me out of Pickett's. Hell. Yes. I did it. Oh, I rode that whole freaking thing and it tried to break my legs, then my soul, but there it is. I have finished the Death Ride. All 5 freaking passes.

I stop and the guy fixes a sticker to my number and gives me a huge smile. A woman is doing something, maybe recording my number? I dunno, but she's all smiles, too. They both congratulate me and the guy gives me a pat on the shoulder and looks me in the eye when he says congratulations. I start to clip in, but he says hang on and reaches into the toolbelt pouch and pulls this out.



There it is. I'm a genuine 5 Pass Finisher.
Outstanding job kbasa! Well done brother!
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Old 07-30-2013, 07:12 AM   #30269
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I had to add a bunch of stuff to that post. Sorry.

Number - with all 5 stickers.

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Old 07-30-2013, 09:15 AM   #30270
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Great job!
And great write up. You have my wrists aching.
That is really an amazing job.
Thanks for taking us along.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kbasa View Post



There it is. I'm a genuine 5 Pass Finisher.
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