Death Riders hit the road |

Death Riders hit the road

It’s one of the west’s premiere endurance cycling events and grows in popularity every year — even with a name like Death Ride.

After all, the most enthusiastic endurance cyclists can’t pass up the chance to be known as “Death Riders.”

The 21st annual Death Ride — billed as the Tour of the California Alps is taking place today. The event again sold out on its first day of registration last spring. Almost 6,000 riders tried to sign up for this year’s event, which was cut off at 2,700 riders.

“Extremely popular,” said Bob Anderson of the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce, who is the event’s coordinator, when talking how riders feel about the event.

Most riders began the event at 5:30 a.m. today. What makes the event so special is the extremely challenging course, how scenic the course is and the support that the riders receive on the course. There are 700 volunteers who help put the event on.

“The road course, the difficulty of it makes it a big personal challenge, which is why most people do it,” Anderson said. “The riders are also well-taken care of. The support is a big part of it.”

This year’s ride again includes its infamous five-pass course, including: Monitor Pass (8,314 feet); Ebbett’s pass (8,730 feet) and Carson Pass (8,573 feet). Beginning and ending at Turtle Rock Park north of Markleeville, the ride goes for 129 miles and includes 16,000 feet of lung busting climbing.

Ride support includes seven full rest stops, all supplied with a food and drinks, plus four additional water stops at key locations on the course. The ride is fully supported and assisted by local and state law enforcement, ambulance services, and many Alpine County non profit organizations.E

Tech support is available from a variety of local bike shops and sponsors to all “Death Riders” during the ride at many locations.E

The Alpine County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol and ambulance companies will be on the course at various locations, while radio support is provided throughout the course by the Tahoe Amateur Radio Association. Support is provided by the Alta Alpina Cycle Club and the River City Beemers Motorcycle Club.

While the fastest riders will be able to complete the course as soon as 2 p.m. today, most riders will not be able to finish until 5 or 6 p.m. “It’s a good 12 hours for most people,” Anderson said.

Anderson said normally a little more than half the riders complete all five passes. But with this year’s 100-degree plus temperatures, it’s likely that more riders will be hard pressed to complete the course today.

“It depends on the weather, it depends on the heat,” Anderson said. “It can make a big difference. If it starts pushing a 100, it can be kind of hard on these guys.”