So, what are my thoughts on the Death Ride?
First and foremost, I’m proud of my performance. It was hard, and four passes is not at all bad for a first-time rider. Going up Ebbetts took tremendous courage, and I managed it. One pedal stroke at a time.
It was fun, in a sick sort of way. It definitely tested my limits, and I came out OK. I wasn’t fast enough to make the time cuts, but I was strong enough to make it up the mountains, and (given that Carson Pass isn’t any steeper than Ebbetts) I think I could have finished the ride, given more time.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever be a five-pass rider. At my current level of training, there was simply no way for me to make the time cutoff at Woodfords (or the time cutoff at Pickett’s if I’d made it to Woodfords) – I left about as early as possible and still missed the cutoff by a good hour or so. If I left at 3am instead of 3:30am and didn’t blow up on the way up Ebbetts, I might possibly make it to Woodfords, but it’s unlikely I’d make it to Pickett’s in time to go up the fifth pass. In order to make the time cuts, I’d either have to be in significantly better shape, or drop about fifteen pounds. Either one is achievable, but I’m not sure I want it desperately enough to put in the efforts.
The altitude definitely affected me. Going up a 7% grade felt like going up a 10% grade, and a 12% grade felt like an 18% grade. My average speed was only 8.6 mph, vs. an average speed of about 10 mph at sea level (and with much slower downhills!). I’m guessing I lost about 30% of my power just from the altitude. Less than I’d expected (given my prior experience with altitude sickness at 7,000 feet), but still substantial.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do next year. I may very well do the Death Ride again, but this time more for fun than as a focus of my training. As I said, I’m not sure if I’ll ever (given my motivation level) be a five-pass rider, but I did enjoy my time, and it was a nice getaway. On the other hand, if I manage a Triple Crown next year, and AIDS Lifecycle, I’ll be in much better condition, so who knows….? Perhaps I’ll collect that jersey after all.