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Ride Reports Archive

July 2002

07/17/02 - The Death Ride - "Never say Never"
by Elizabeth
A few years ago when I first heard about The Death Ride I thought, "Sixteen thousand feet of climbing? One hundred and thirty miles? You've GOT to be crazy." So, with several century rides under my belt, I completed the five-pass jaunt and can say with certainty, "I Am DEFINATELY crazy." And so are at least 6,000 others who applied for the 2,700 lottery spots that filled the capacity of the ride. It may not have been the hardest thing I've ever done, but certainly one of the most mentally taxing.

Patience is the key to this ride. You can see it in almost every rider out there. Few speedies on this course. As the "stoner/physicist" that I met said, "completing the ride isn't a worry, so long as you set the right pace." That was about when Dana rode away from me as if she was as fresh as a daisy. This was at about mile 60 and 8,000 feet of climbing accomplished. I realized at this point that I had to start riding waaaay conservatively. I was feeling the altitude of Ebbett's, the highest of the three summits that measures over 8,700 feet in elevation. This was our third climb, after both sides of Monitor, and I was loosing my ability to focus, except for on every shady patch I passed. Instead of stopping for a rest, I was sure that the top was just around the next corner and kept pushing. Around several corners later, when I finally did reach the top, I was so dizzy and dazed I didn't quite know what to do. Dana appeared like an angel and grabbed my bike as I stumbled off and wandered around the rest stop for a few minutes before I realized that I needed to GET OFF MY FEET. Luckily, I found a vacant chair and my guardian angel appeared again with drinks, asprin, you name it. As my head cleared a little, I noticed that I wasn't the only peaked one at this particular rest stop. I revived quickly and completed another decent and a shorter climb back over Ebbett’s and decent to lunch.

It was probably in the 90s, which I guess was a blessing since a few days earlier it was in the 100s. However, I usually start to whine when the temps are above 80. Regardless, I was careful not to eat too much and the reminder that we would be passing by the car on the way to the last climb was lingering in the back of my brain. "I could end this sooner than later," I thought. While Dana and Bill were riding as fresh as spring chickens, my wheels dragged like anchors. As we passed our car, I remembered my stoner friend and all the other riders who finish merely by setting a comfortable pace and practicing patience. "Screw it", I thought, "I still have all afternoon to do this. What else am I going to do? Sit and wait for everyone else to finish? And miss the ice cream at the top of Carson? No way!"

Then I started having fun. I didn't want to join any pelotons passing me on the windy parts of Carson. The view was so majestic; I didn't want to trade it for the view of someone's wheel. I anticipated being entertained at the next sign of encouragement along the way, which always make me chuckle. Especially the one that reminded me that if I were racing in the Tour de France at that moment, I would be going 15 mph (instead of the 6 mph that I was managing.) When another sign said that I had less than two miles to the top, I giggled to myself thinking that I was riding about a 10-minute mile - what I would consider to be a disgraceful pace if I had been running. "Maybe I should run the last two miles and get there faster," I thought. Yeah, right!

Then I was at the top! Dana and Bill were still there and directed me straight to the ice cream. I felt great. The downhill was the best of the day. Even with the slight uphill portions. My head was clear and my confidence high while I managed to stay with a peloton that hit over 50 on parts of the decent.

When I reached the car, I just couldn't believe it was over. A 12-hour journey! My patient pace left me feeling little fatigue and fairly fresh over the next few days. My constant fluid intake left me with a swollen belly but almost completely hydrated.

At the post ride meal, I noticed all the faces glowing with excitement and accomplishment. All those crazy people. And now I've been officially initiated as one of them.

But to return year after year? Now THAT'S CRAZY!!! I'll never... never say never.

07/16/02 - Survivors of The Death Ride
by Dana
The Death Ride proved to be rather “lively” for Velo Bellas and the Fellas as we enjoyed the majestic mountains that would challenge us up and down each pass.

Seven Monterey locals conquered the five mountain passes, and everyone earned the much-coveted 5-Pass Pin! (Greg, Bill’s partner in cycling crime, said that pin haunted him for 8 years!) Gordon reminded us that this was an exceptionally cool year, with temps only in the low 90s. Clear sky and humid heat warmed up our tires in the morning, while dry lightening and thunderstorms sprinkled the skies in late afternoon, just in time to save us going up Carson Pass. Heck, we even had a little tailwind going uphill! The pleasant temps didn’t help Sue cool down those carbon fiber wheels, which she melted on the first descent, an expensive maneuver for sure! Gordon switched out the wheels and descended with no brakes down two passes before they could return to the car to switch wheels. Sue says she is learning how to "feather" her brakes “going 50 mph down a mountain pass with hair pin turns and no railings.” I hit a new downhill speed record of 53.6 carbon for this need-for-speed Bella.

Weeks of fighting sore muscles and joints and intense training, it all paid off...guess that’s what they call “supercompensation.” I almost met my goal of 9 hours (9:17) for completion. Elizabeth and I started the ride at 5:20 am and finished about 5:20 pm...sure enjoyed those rest stops! The last 4 miles up Carson were the hardest for me, when pain and dehydration set in. Granted, pouring the last of my water on my burning feet wasn’t the smartest maneuver. Oh, but I thought I still had drink in my Velo Bella water bottle...2 inches of liquid remained, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to open the spout when trying to pour in my mouth. I thought it was dry! Is this what they call Altitude Sickness? Mental faculties seemed to go before the muscles. Two ice cream bars later at the top of Carson, and all was well!

© The Death RideWe met some interesting people, as always! (No, not West Clark. "Entertaining"” is more the term for this animated rider.) One guy on a tandem had a full-size skeleton smoking a cigar as the "stoker." Elizabeth was especially entertained on her way up Ebbett’s by one guy who survived the DR by riding stoned! Yes! I think that’s the way she felt when she arrived to the top of that same pass ghost white and barely able to walk…nothing a little Coca Cola, H20, and Advil couldn’t cure. She continued to ride hard, consistent, smart and conservative; even though she got excited every time she saw a meadow as a place to lie down.

The support and enthusiasm of Alpine County volunteers and the Skeleton Squad made this a marvelous day, as they ensured we were pampered and hydrated. Even took my first, on-the-bike shower riding through one rest stop!

Training for the next Death Ride will be a Velo Bella Downhill Clinic to train for the 16,000 feet of descending! That’s pedal to the metal and not to carbon!

Addendum: Wade, one of our Spokeseman saviors from our Death Ride Training in Santa Cruz, was seen valiantly riding Monitor Pass!

07/08/02 - Bay Area Women's Clinic June 29/30
by Monica Flesher
Held in San Francisco, Fort Mason Center near the Golden Gate Bridge
Taught by Kendra Wenzel, former captain of the Saeco/Timex Team &
Karen Bliss-Livingston, former captain of the Saturn Team

I arrived on a sunny Saturday morning to find women milling about filling out registration forms, signing waivers, eating bagels, and drinking coffee.

There was a big variety of attendees, from women in their fifties who wanted to improve their biking skills, to triatheletes who wanted to better their bike times, and of course, racers eager to learn how to improve their performance. One gal introduced herself saying "I'm a runner, my boyfriend wants to buy me a bike so I thought I better learn something about it."

Our fellow Velo Bella, Laurie MacFarlane, stood out in the crowd as she was wearing her Bella T-shirt proudly!

The clinic included morning classroom discussions & presentations, followed by an afternoon session outdoors. Some of the topics covered were bike fit, cornering, pacelining, training schedules (pre, during & post-season) and nutrition. We spent time both afternoons on the bikes doing drills. We broke into four groups, and drills were set up as stations, and we rotated from one place to another. One of the most fun drills was the bike handling skills. We did things like picking up a water bottle from the ground...yes while on the moving bike! It was something I thought impossible at first, but I managed to do it 3 out of 5 times. We also had sprinting and cornering drills, and time trial starts. Everyone practiced sprinting, leading out and jumping from a different spot in the paceline. We also were ideotaped, which led to some fine entertainment when we watched ourselves!

Brooke Kuhn of the Hancock MacGuire team served as coordinator for this event. She rallied several of her Hancock teammates as volunteers, and they really did a nice job putting it all together. Next time you see Brooke, mention something about the clinic to her and give her thanks, she deserves it.

In attendance was Lorri Lee Lown, who has a club called "Velogirls" and would love to organize a group ride with us. Anyone interested?

We received several comments on our Velo Bella jerseys, including one from the girl who was holding my bike during the time trial drill who said "Ah, Velo Bellas...these are those jerseys that are so cute!" Everyone wanted to know who designed them.

Laurie sold several T-shirts, and I gave away some waterbottles. It was a great weekend with lots of positive networking with other women, lots of valuable input to use, and I highly recommend attending next year if you get the chance.

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Team Velo BellaElizabeth, Sue, Dana - Pre-Death Ride VigilElizabeth, Sue, Dana - Pre-Death Ride Vigil









Death Ride - Dana & ElizabethDeath Ride - Dana & Elizabeth









Greg & Bill - Velo Fellas for The Death RideGreg & Bill - Velo Fellas for The Death Ride

















Elizabeth & Dana training for The Death RideElizabeth & Dana training for The Death Ride



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