4/5 on Death Ride

4/5 on Death Ride

I said I wanted to take on something I wasn’t sure I could do. I wanted to set a goal I thought I only had a 50% chance of achieving. The Death Ride became my challenge. A 129 mile bike ride with 5 summit passes and 15,000 feet of vertical climbing.

I did 4 out of 5. Here’s the short answer as to how it went:

Now, a bit longer an explanation and my thoughts going forward.

First of all, I didn’t really train for this ride. Yes, I did complete a 500 mile bike ride from Stockholm to Copenhagen in 6 days recently …… but that wasn’t so recently anymore. That was in May. I got to Copenhagen on May 20 and the Death Ride was on July 8. From May 21 to July 7 I rode a grand total of only 100 miles. A 10 mile bike ride from my house to the beach. A 40 mile bike ride that included one summit pass but then a lot of downhill. And then, the only serious ride I did (two weeks before the Death Ride) was a 50 mile ride with 5,000 feet of climbing.

Plus, my Stockholm to Copenhagen ride had almost no climbing.

So, I didn’t really train for the ride.

4/5 is good. I said I wasn’t sure I could complete it. Now I’ve set a benchmark.

Also, my bike is in terrible shape. I broke my derailleur a week before the ride and got it back from the bike sex shop the night before the Death Ride. When they gave me my bike back they basically told me I was crazy to attempt the ride with the state my bike was in. I need a new drivetrain and a new chain, but that’s not the worst part. With my bike mounted up on the rack they gave my back tire and spin and within 15 seconds it was coming to a stop.

So, for next year… (yes, of course there is going to be a next year….) I want to take these two issues off the table.

Next year I will train and my bike will be in perfect condition.

Yes, it was a hot day this year and that did affect me, but other riders completed the ride in the same heat I was in.

I am very proud of what I did this year. It’s easy to get lost in the word “only” — “only” completed 4 of 5. I “only” rode 90 miles and I “only” climbed 12,000 feet. But as I said in my Facebook post the day of the ride, that ride — 90 miles and 12,000 feet of climbing — was still the biggest single day ride of my life. At Turtle Rock Campground where the ride starts and ends a volunteer asked me how I did. I said I completed “only” 4 summits. She told me not to say that and she’s right!

I wanted to push myself to my limit and I feel like I did that. Scratch that. I KNOW I did that. Coming back down Ebbetts Pass (descending the 4th summit) I was giving myself a pep talk. I wanted to push for the 5th. I still had something left. Was it enough to get all the way to the top of the 5th? I wasn’t sure, but I knew I had something left and I wanted to push myself all the way to my limit.

But then on a small climb before even reaching the start of the 5th summit I was having to stop every half mile, bent over, feeling like I was going to throw up.

Going up the 3rd summit — the first pass of Ebbetts — I felt like I was in trouble. Talking to other riders, the people around me were shooting for 3 or 4 summits. I was still shooting for 5 at the time but I wasn’t able to hang with the other riders who were shooting for (and eventually achieving) all 5.

I had a great time on the ride. Yes, it is insane. After your first descent when you just turn around and climb right back up the mountain — that’s when it hits you. “Yes, I am insane.” You descend and turn right back around and climb right back up. No meandering. No scenic byway and then back up. Nope, just right back up the mountain. Then you get your second summit in and descend again and then it’s right back to climbing.

I ate a ridiculous amount of food. By the time I was getting ready to climb my 4th summit I had eaten so much that I was over food. I did not want to eat, but I made myself because I knew I needed the energy. I drank so much water and Gatorade. I started out the day in a black bib but by the end of the day it was more charcoal colored as it was covered in salt from my sweat. You could literally run your hand over my bib and have salt on your hand.

So, I have  year to think about this.

And I have an extra reason to stay in shape for another year. I am determined to complete all 5 passes of the Death Ride next year!

Hi, I’m Clark. In the past year I’ve lost 70 pounds. I’m a passionate skier, cyclist, and trail runner. And the author of the book unWorking.

Sign up for updates on unWorking

  • Exit the rat race
  • Live like a millionaire
  • Be happy....NOW.

Don't worry...we don't send that many!