With a name like Death Ride, it has to be fun, right?
That's what past participants of the Annual Tour of the California Alps Death Ride said this week ahead of the 129-mile road bike ride, which includes five mountain passes and more than 15,000 feet of climbing.
The 32nd iteration of the ride takes place Saturday on roadways just south of the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The full ride climbs both sides of Monitor Pass, both sides of Ebbetts Pass and the east side of Carson Pass. Participants have the option of doing anywhere from one to five of the mountain passes.
"It's hard, but, really, it's a lot of fun," said Gardnerville resident Jim Rhiner, who has participated in the ride five times.
The tour is certainly a physical challenge, said South Lake Tahoe resident Adele Lucas, but it is not without its rewards. Lucas will participate in her fifth straight Death Ride this weekend.
From the beautiful alpine scenery, to the camaraderie of the riders to the ice cream at the top of Carson Pass and the adrenaline rush following the final climb, the Death Ride gives back what riders put in, Lucas said.
"It's just an opportunity to ride an area which is so beautiful," Lucas said. "People come from all over the nation and world to do this ride."
The Death Ride typically takes place at the same time as the Tour de France and gives participants the opportunity to go out and do their own hill climbs as professional cyclists tackle the mountain stages in the world famous cycling race, Lucas added.
About 3,500 riders are expected to participate in this year's event, said Mark Phillips, a board member with the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce. And while the course is set, Sierra Nevada weather always presents an unknown, Phillips said.
Saturday's forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and a high of 87 degrees in Markleeville, but that's certainly no guarantee.
Carson Pass, which is the only pass that will not close to vehicle traffic for the ride, tends to be windy and presents riders with the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms, Rhiner said. Lucas added that she has ridden through both hail and snow during previous Death Rides.
Both Lucas and Rhiner urged newcomers to prepare for the heat, as well as the cold.
Registration for the ride filled up months ago, but about 5 percent of riders who sign up don't end up participating in the event, Phillips said.