Column: 2,700 bike riders will be on Alpine County highways Saturday

The annual "Death Ride 2000, Tour of the California Alps" for bicycles is scheduled for this Saturday in Alpine County, Calif.

It is jointly sponsored by the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce and the Alta Alpina Cycle Club.

That special endurance event will consist of about 2,700 bicycle riders attempting to ride over a total of five passes in that small county.

The start and finish of the Death Ride 2000 will be at Turtle Rock Park. That park is located three miles north of Markleeville, just off S.R. 4 and S.R. 89, between Woodford's and Markleeville.

Turtle Rock Park is the official site of all Death Ride activities.

The five passes included in the Death Ride consist of: Monitor (8,314') on S.R. 89 (which is climbed twice), Ebbett's (8,730') on S.R. 4 (which is climbed twice) and Kit Carson (8,573') on S.R. 88.

Riders, who do complete the entire Death Ride, will have climbed a total of 16,000 feet on those five passes and traveled a total of 129 miles.

In addition to the usual five passes in the Death Ride, there is an extra challenge this year. That challenge is the newly-added "Y2 Grade" (the Pacific Grade Summit). It is an additional five miles of riding on a road that has grades of up to 25 percent. The Pacific Grade Summit is located west of Hermit Valley on S.R. 4. The Y2 Grade won't count toward the coveted "five pass" pin but a special award will be given to those who tackle and conquer that monster hill.

The registration fee for the Death Ride is $55 per rider which includes official participation numbers, custom patch, water bottle, headband, food and beverages at rest stops, ride lunch, Saturday night dinner and entertainment, ride support, hot showers and the five-pass pin for all who finish all five passes.

Despite Alpine County's remote location, there will be more than 600 volunteers working to make the rides as enjoyable as possible. The ride support includes seven full-rest stops, all supplied with selections of food and drink. Then, there will be another four water stops at key locations along the course.

Bike riders, competing in the Death Ride, will participate in the following:

- Friday - 4-10 p.m. - "Carbo" loaded dinner at Turtle Rock Park. $7 pre-paid or $9 at the door.

- Saturday - 4-8 a.m. - Pre-ride breakfast at Turtle Rock. $6 pre-paid or $7 at the door.

- Saturday - 11 a.m.-2 p.m. - Lunch at Centerville Flats. Free with entry fee.

- Saturday - After-ride dinner - 3-9 p.m. at Turtle Rock. Free to registered riders. $10 for non-riders.

Riders will also be able enjoy Saturday night entertainment, massages, hot showers and a Bike Expo.

At Turtle Rock Park, rider check-in is available from 12 noon to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and from 4:15 a.m. until 8:15 a.m. on Saturday.

Starting times on Saturday for the 2,700 riders are as follows:

Five passes: Start 5:30-6:30 a.m.

Four passes: Start 6-7 a.m.

Three passes; Start 6:30-7:30 a.m.

Two passes: Start 7-8 a.m.

One pass: Start 7:30 -8:30 a.m.

Riders are advised that they can be cited for riding before dawn (5:30 a.m.), without proper lights on their bikes.

All riders must wear their Death Ride numbers and have their Death Ride water bottle to gain access to the ride. Those items will be checked by course marshals and law enforcement personnel. There will be no exceptions.

Riders are advised to have good brakes and tires. They are also advised to carry extra tubes, a tire pump, tools, good rain or cold weather gear, identification, sunscreen, chap stick and extra water.

The Death Ride ends at 7 p.m. and all riders must be off the highways.

Any motorists traveling in Alpine County on Saturday between 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. are advised to exercise extreme caution due to the huge number of bicycles on the major roadways.

Special Note: S.R. 89 (The Monitor Pass Highway) from the junction of U.S. 395, near Topaz Lake, to the junction of S.R. 4 and S.R. 4, near Markleeville, will be closed to all traffic from 5:30 a.m. until noon on Saturday. The only exceptions will be emergency, law enforcement and support vehicles.

Special Note: S.R. 4 (The Ebbett's Pass Highway) from the junction of S.R. 4 and S.R. 89 near Markleeville to Mosquito Lakes near Bear Valley, will be closed to all traffic from 5:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday. The only exceptions will be emergency, law enforcement and support vehicles.

Technical support during the Death Ride will be provided by a variety of bike shops and sponsors.

The Alpine County Sheriff's Office, the California Highway Patrol and various ambulance companies will be on the course at a number of different locations.

Radio support will be provided by the Tahoe Amateur Radio Association.

For information, call the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce at (530) 694-2399 during regular hours.

Or you can contact Death Ride 2000 at (530) 694-1766 or email at deathride@alpinecounty.com.

Visitors to this area are advised to contact the Carson City Convention and Visitors' Bureau at (800) NEVADA1 or the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce at (800) 727-7677 or the Lake Tahoe Visitors' Authority at (800) AT TAHOE for additional lodging information, outside of the Alpine County area.

Saturday will be a busy and fun-filled day in nearby Alpine County.

- Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't name four different types of campgrounds in the Markleeville area.

If he grins and says, "Markleeville Creek Campground (U.S. Forest Service), Indian Creek Campground (BLM), Grover Hot Springs Campground (California State Park System) and Turtle Rock Campground (Alpine County)," you are in deep trouble with this bet.

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