Death Ride a ‘HOT’ affair |

Death Ride a ‘HOT’ affair

This cyclist receives a welcomed spray of water at the Woodfords rest stop Saturday during the 37th annual Death Ride, Tour of the California Alps.
Dave Price |

More than 3,000 cyclists battled through summer heat Saturday to participate in the 37th annual Death Ride, Tour of the California Alps.

Hosted by the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce, the Death Ride challenged participants with a route that features a distance of 129 miles and 15,000 feet of climbing over 8,314-foot Monitor, 8,730-foot Ebbetts and 8,580-foot Carson passes.

High temperatures on top of altitude provided an added challenge this time. It was enough that even the prospects of an afternoon headwind sounded appealing to cyclists as they prepared for a difficult ascent up Woodfords Canyon.

“Is it 2 o’clock yet?” one cyclist asked.

When told the time was actually three minutes before 3 p.m., he nodded in response, “Headwind, for sure.”

Some of the participants fell short of achieving their goals under those conditions. Just consider the post Jim Patterson put on the Death Ride’s Facebook page afterward: “It was a great event and the support from the volunteers and the family and friends lining the streets made the heat a little more bearable. Although I was one that did not meet my goal of 5 passes this year, I am not disappointed. The scenery and experience will be something that stays with me forever. Old guys rule.”

Mary Vanatta added a special thanks for a traditional prize that awaits cyclists upon their arrival at the top of the final pass — Carson Pass: “Thank you to all of the amazing volunteers!! This was my first time riding, and I was so impressed by how friendly, helpful, and attentive everyone was. The ice was great, as was the ice cream.”

Judy Clarke, a veteran Death Ride participant, added her gratitude: “Thank you to the organizers, staff, and volunteers! This is our 19th Death Ride and it never disappoints. Riding through the shadowy forests then emerging to breathtaking mountain and valley vistas are only a part of what makes this ride unique. Over the years the staff has faced lightning storms, flooding, hail, snow and fires but they always make it happen. The community of Alpine County embraces the riders and the riders embrace the experience. See you next year!”