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Old 06-09-08, 09:20 PM   #1
jonathanb715
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Markleeville - Ebbet's and Monitor ride reports

We spent the weekend camping in Grover Hot Springs, right near Markleeville, so we could pre-ride the Death Ride passes and get familiar with riding at altitude. The weather was superb, topping out at about 75 each day, and not too windy. Ok, it was cold overnight. Here's my car loaded up with bikes and stuff:


The first day we rode Ebbets, front and back sides. Some pics:





Yup, that's snow still on the top of some of the mountains. I don't think it will be there much longer. The ride is as scenic as ever. The climbing is tough - but the way Mt. Diablo is tough. There's not much that's really all that steep, but the climbs are very long. I did fine, other than my back acting up a bit (some vitamin I took care of that).

On the 2nd day we did Monitor, and rode over to Woodfords (the base of the climb to Pickets, really part of the Carson pass climb) so we could experience the rollers on the way and get some experience in the wind (which really wasn't bad at all). Monitor is another of those 9 mile climbs - nothing too steep, but it is long. Some more pics:



The 2nd photo is down towards Nevada from the Mono County line sign. Absolutely beautiful - but very different than Ebbet's - not much in the way of trees or tree cover. The descent it a blast - I wasn't trying very hard and hit 54mph no problem. Didn't even need the brakes - the turns are wide and sweeping, the road is good and hardly any traffic. Cycling heaven!

Great weekend - we sure are lucky to live in California!

JB
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Old 06-09-08, 10:02 PM   #2
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Thanks for the report. I will be at the Death Ride for the first time next month. I appreciate when you compare Ebbets to Mt. Diablo in diffculty. Ebbets is supposed to be the steepest climb of the ride, I didn't know what to expect.
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Old 06-09-08, 10:05 PM   #3
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Nice photos! Looks like beautiful riding.

You mentioned the passes were similar to Mt. Diablo, which I haven't been on. Does your cycle computer give you the percent grade? I'm guessing the passes are mostly 6%, but it would be nice to confirm.
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Old 06-09-08, 10:21 PM   #4
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I will be there in a month as well. Nice to see some photos and hear what you thought. Thanks!
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Old 06-09-08, 10:30 PM   #5
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Nice photos! Looks like beautiful riding.

You mentioned the passes were similar to Mt. Diablo, which I haven't been on. Does your cycle computer give you the percent grade? I'm guessing the passes are mostly 6%, but it would be nice to confirm.
There's not a whole lot over 10% that we saw. I never got to do the actual ride last year (my bike broke on mile 7), and my computer will give me elevation gains but not grades. This is on the Death Ride site, which might help.


JB
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Old 06-09-08, 10:49 PM   #6
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By the way, a couple of things I did note - when you get to the lake on the front side of Ebbets, it's maybe a mile to the top. Ebbets descent isn't bad - on a day when there's not a lot of traffic or other cyclists. It's only 1 lane wide, so on event day that could cause problems if people are cutting corners on the descent while others are still climbing. I've heard that more people crash on Ebbets than the whole rest of the ride put together. There are also a couple of cattle guards - one at the summit and one on the front side. The 2nd one is pretty well marked. Overall, the roads are in really good shape.

The backside of Ebbets doesn't look bad on the profile, but it felt steeper than the frontside (maybe because it's more consistently steep). It's about 5.5 miles long - the shortest pass of the day.

The other thing is not to underestimate the climb back to Turtle Rock from Ebbets - it was about 700 feet of climbing, with a headwind. If you are close to the time cut-offs, this could take longer than expected.

JB

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Old 06-09-08, 11:20 PM   #7
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That is some seriously scenic stuff out there JB. Nice to get an opinion other then "OMG it was pure torture" I still want to do this ride, but don't have the legs for that distance yet.
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Old 06-09-08, 11:34 PM   #8
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By the way, a couple of things I did note - when you get to the lake on the front side of Ebbets, it's maybe a mile to the top. Ebbets descent isn't bad - on a day when there's not a lot of traffic or other cyclists. It's only 1 lane wide, so on event day that could cause problems.
It's not that bad. You'll just have to pay attention to the riders ascending and hope they are paying attention to you.

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I've heard that more people crash on Ebbets than the whole rest of the ride put together. There are also a couple of cattle guards - one at the summit and one on the front side. The 2nd one is pretty well marked. Overall, the roads are in really good shape.
I believe it

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The other thing is not to underestimate the climb back to Turtle Rock from Ebbets - it was about 700 feet of climbing, with a headwind. If you are close to the time cut-offs, this could take longer than expected. JB
Just get in a pace line and cruise. Don't over do it. Remember, you still have about 1/3 of the ride left. Woodfords to Picketts Junction is a bear of a climb. Talk about headwinds, this is where the headwind is.

BR
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Old 06-09-08, 11:58 PM   #9
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One thing you didn't mention that interests me as a first time death rider this year. What does the elevation FEEL like? I remember trying to run a mile on a treadmill in Stateline, I thought I was going to die. But then, running is VERY cardio-limited for me and I'm just not a runner. I think it took me 2 minutes (almost 30% longer) than usual.

On the bike I tend not to feel out of breath too much, I just start feeling overexerted where my HR peaks out and my legs tire.

So will my capacity be that much lower on the deathride? My thinking is that it'll require deeper breathing to keep the same amount of oxygen in my muscles, so my riding will be more cardio-limited than before. Or am I overthinking it?
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Old 06-10-08, 12:15 AM   #10
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One thing you didn't mention that interests me as a first time death rider this year. What does the elevation FEEL like? I remember trying to run a mile on a treadmill in Stateline, I thought I was going to die. But then, running is VERY cardio-limited for me and I'm just not a runner. I think it took me 2 minutes (almost 30% longer) than usual.

On the bike I tend not to feel out of breath too much, I just start feeling overexerted where my HR peaks out and my legs tire.

So will my capacity be that much lower on the deathride? My thinking is that it'll require deeper breathing to keep the same amount of oxygen in my muscles, so my riding will be more cardio-limited than before. Or am I overthinking it?
I think everyone is different on that one. I had no problem maintaining a level of effort similar to what I would, say, on Mt. Diablo, but others in our group complained that they could really feel it and that their heart rate was about 10 bpm higher for a given level of exertion. That was actually one of the reasons we went up early - just to get some experience dealing with any issues that might crop up with riding at altitude.

The standard advice for first time riders on this ride is to start slow and taper - at least until you're sure you've got the whole altitude thing figured out. The other thing I noticed is that it is very dry up there - I was drinking more fluids than I usually do, even though it wasn't hot.

JB
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Old 06-10-08, 12:23 AM   #11
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Just get in a pace line and cruise. Don't over do it. Remember, you still have about 1/3 of the ride left. Woodfords to Picketts Junction is a bear of a climb. Talk about headwinds, this is where the headwind is.

BR
Yeah, everyone complains about that part of the ride. I still haven't done it on a windy day, but it does seem steeper than you'd think - and I'd only done Monitor at that point, not the whole ride.

JB
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Old 06-10-08, 10:25 AM   #12
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One thing you didn't mention that interests me as a first time death rider this year. What does the elevation FEEL like? I remember trying to run a mile on a treadmill in Stateline, I thought I was going to die. But then, running is VERY cardio-limited for me and I'm just not a runner. I think it took me 2 minutes (almost 30% longer) than usual.

On the bike I tend not to feel out of breath too much, I just start feeling overexerted where my HR peaks out and my legs tire.

So will my capacity be that much lower on the deathride? My thinking is that it'll require deeper breathing to keep the same amount of oxygen in my muscles, so my riding will be more cardio-limited than before. Or am I overthinking it?
A 7 minute mile isn't too bad a running pace.
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Old 06-10-08, 12:07 PM   #13
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The ascending riders on Ebbets 1 (first time up Ebbets, east side) usually keep to their half of the road.... except for the idiots who decide to stop for a rest and go for a shady spot on the wrong side of the road. And then don't look up the road for descending riders when they start up again. One of those almost took me out last year.

There's also been at least one vehicle on Ebbets 1 each time I have gone down it in the DR the last three years. The road's closed but people come up the night before to camp, ignoring the signs saying that the road's going to be closed, and then try to drive out through the ride. The east side of Ebbets is my favorite descent but due to the above I can't go all out on it during the death ride.

The hard part of Ebbets 1 is overall a little harder than Diablo, but it's only 1800 feet. There's a long gradual runup to it which is also a climb but isn't very steep. The difference between it and the steep upper half is more noticeable on the bike than it is on the published elevation profile. When you hit the part marked 10% on the profile you're starting the real climb. The steepest climbing on the whole ride is near the top of Ebbets 1.

Here's my blog post from last years Death Ride: http://ericm.lne.com/blog/?p=78
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Old 06-10-08, 12:21 PM   #14
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One thing you didn't mention that interests me as a first time death rider this year. What does the elevation FEEL like? I remember trying to run a mile on a treadmill in Stateline, I thought I was going to die. But then, running is VERY cardio-limited for me and I'm just not a runner. I think it took me 2 minutes (almost 30% longer) than usual.

On the bike I tend not to feel out of breath too much, I just start feeling overexerted where my HR peaks out and my legs tire.

So will my capacity be that much lower on the deathride? My thinking is that it'll require deeper breathing to keep the same amount of oxygen in my muscles, so my riding will be more cardio-limited than before. Or am I overthinking it?
You'll be OK just take it easy and keep your HR under control. I never used to understand the whole altitude thing affecting performance, but I grew up between Placerville and South Lake Tahoe and lived in SLT for 5 years. I'm now @ sea level and notice that when I go back to Tahoe, my wind isn't noticeably bad when I ride, but I feel noticeably lethargic come mid afternoon and get the yawns sometimes. Also follow the advice about drinking more up there, and LOTS more - the Sierras are so hot and dry in the summer, a true desert climate, especially on the East side. You'll fry in the sun, too in the thin air.
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Old 06-10-08, 12:35 PM   #15
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jonathan - what vitamins did/do you take for your back? I've been two weeks off the bike and am getting lower back pains again when I ride...
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Old 06-10-08, 12:37 PM   #16
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I've been riding with a big camelback and (on long rides) 2 water bottles. I was considering trying to drop the weight off my back for comfort's sake, but we'll see.. if it's hot, I'm not sure 2 bottles is gonna do it, even if I can refill at the top of each pass.. I like to stay well-hydrated.
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Old 06-10-08, 01:36 PM   #17
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jonathan - what vitamins did/do you take for your back? I've been two weeks off the bike and am getting lower back pains again when I ride...
LOL - vitamin I is also known as ibuprofin, a true performance enhancing substance when you get to be my age.....

I have back problems, but stretching and core workouts usually keep it under control. I think it flared up as a result of camping - I used a thermarest, but I think I'm going to spring for an air mattress next time I go camping.

JB
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Old 06-10-08, 02:18 PM   #18
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I've been riding with a big camelback and (on long rides) 2 water bottles. I was considering trying to drop the weight off my back for comfort's sake, but we'll see.. if it's hot, I'm not sure 2 bottles is gonna do it, even if I can refill at the top of each pass.. I like to stay well-hydrated.
I did the Death Ride last year and it was pretty hot. I only used two water bottles. Actually for every century ride I do I only use two water bottles and never have used a camel bak. But thats just me, I find two is enough and it was enough for me at the Death Ride and I even skipped a couple of rest stops along the way.
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Old 06-10-08, 04:07 PM   #19
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I've been riding with a big camelback and (on long rides) 2 water bottles. I was considering trying to drop the weight off my back for comfort's sake, but we'll see.. if it's hot, I'm not sure 2 bottles is gonna do it, even if I can refill at the top of each pass.. I like to stay well-hydrated.
The Death Ride stops are pretty close together. Two bottles has been plenty for me even the first year when I wasn't so fast and it was incredibly hot. The only place you might want something is at TRP on the way to Carson... leave a bottle of your favorite drink in a cooler by your car.
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Old 06-10-08, 04:56 PM   #20
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Very nice photos - you should upload them to Gooooogle Earth - hardly any there... you'd be doing the bike world a big favor. Actually there aren't many of Diablo either, I need to get busy.
So how much humiliation would a guy have to endure if he bailed out after four passes? (not speaking about Team in Training riders who have a moral obligation to do the full Monte).
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Old 06-10-08, 04:59 PM   #21
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So how much humiliation would a guy have to endure if he bailed out after four passes?
Step 1: Drive past your car after pass #4.
Step 2: Turn around as if you're looking for a lost friend
Step 3: Arrive at your car from the Carson direction

Avoid humiliation!
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Old 06-10-08, 08:07 PM   #22
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So how much humiliation would a guy have to endure if he bailed out after four passes?
There's no reason to do all of it unless you're an obsessive driven person like me. No one publishes times or placings. The last pass is the least fun. It's open to traffic and it's not as scenic as the first four.
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Old 06-10-08, 08:43 PM   #23
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Very nice photos - you should upload them to Gooooogle Earth - hardly any there... you'd be doing the bike world a big favor. Actually there aren't many of Diablo either, I need to get busy.
So how much humiliation would a guy have to endure if he bailed out after four passes? (not speaking about Team in Training riders who have a moral obligation to do the full Monte).
Damn, I hate moral obligations (and I guess I'm screwed anyway after last year, when I didn't even get to do the 1st pass!).

If I had to guess, I'd say at least a third of the riders don't do all 5 passes for a variety of reasons. Some of us simply won't make the time cutoffs (yes, I'm still slow enough that that will be a very real risk).

Lots of people just go up, stash some supplies in the bushes by the side of the road at a few spots and do the ride on a different day.

Thanks for the comments on the pics - I used the time tested method of just snapping lots of times, hoping a few would come out. I took 50 - the pics above are the only decent ones.

JB

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Old 06-10-08, 10:03 PM   #24
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Some of us simply won't make the time cutoffs (yes, I'm still slow enough that that will be a very real risk).
I guess we'll be seeing a lot of each other out there then
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Old 06-10-08, 11:26 PM   #25
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So how much humiliation would a guy have to endure if he bailed out after four passes? (not speaking about Team in Training riders who have a moral obligation to do the full Monte).
Well you will leaving knowing that you didn't get THE pin which you only get at the top of the last pass. And that you didn't get to sign the huge poster along with the other 5 pass finishers. I signed my name last year right above Tom Boonen's. I didn't know he did the Death Ride. I thought he was riding the TDF at that time.
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