This Saturday, I rode the Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge double century. The ride starts at Turtle Rock Park in Markleeville and summits 8 passes. The route is similar to the Death Ride, but done in reverse order and with Kingsbury, Luther and Blue Lakes added in. There are many other options in addition to the full double century, and the much smaller field and staggered start times mean that it never feels crowded.
The total climbing is over 20,000 ft, and four of the summits are over 8,000 ft, so altitude also becomes a factor. Before I get into the long report, I must say I was truly impressed by the great support and plan to ride this again.
I arrived Friday shortly before sunset, and camped by the side of Airport Road, less than a mile from the start.
The morning felt very cold. I also discovered that I had left my arm warmers at home, and had knee and leg warmers instead. Fortunately, I had added a larger seatpost bag, so decided to carry two jackets with me, and planned on rigging leg warmers as arm warmers using safety pins, if necessary. I left a few minutes before my 4am start time. The first 8 miles are downhill, and my hands were so numb that I made a u-turn to get heavier gloves, re-considered, made another u-turn and headed towards Kingsbury.
The view halfway up Kingsbury grade:
Quick re-supply at the top, and a fun descent back to the valley, then a steady climb up to Luther Pass. All the reset stops were well placed, and volunteers were eager to help each rider. This is the rest stop at top of Luther Pass:
A short descent, then climb again to Carson Pass, which is never too steep, but seems to forever. I really disliked this climb at the end of Death Ride, but it was quite nice in the morning with fresher legs and much less traffic:
After another smooth descent, Blue Lakes is next. The road is still closed because of the heavy snow this year, so it's only 4 miles after the turn. To make up the difference, we are re-routed to Carson River Road, Diamond Valley Road, and finally a quick out and back to Airport Road, before stopping for lunch.
By now I was getting warm, some fatigue was setting in, and the mild headwind was beginning to annoy me. The lunch stop back at Turtle Rock Park came just in time, and I felt ready to tackle the second half.
After a short downhill, the road climbs gently following Carson River:
Then you are reminded of what is ahead:
After crossing the cattle guards, the grade really kicks up: