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The 2018 Death Ride 5-Pass (129 miles, 15000' of climbing) — a popular shorter/easier version of Alta Alpina

UPDATE: see my 2018 Death Ride report.


I’ve never done the Death Ride before (129 miles, 15000' of climbing), but this year I am doing it this Saturday July 14. It should be “easy”, since it is 5500 feet less climbing and 71 miles shorter than Alta Alpina 8 Pass Challenge, which I completed two weeks ago. Plus Monitor Pass west and east are the first climbs, in the cool of the morning, a major difference versus doing them late in the day when it can be baking hot.

As far as I know, the Death Ride draws more riders by an order of magnitude than just about any double century (4000 riders, I understand).

Not all riders do the full distance and all 5 passes, but that’s a lot of riders. So many that riders enjoy a rare luxury: the California Highway Patrol closes some of the roads:

From 5:00am – 7:00am, the road will be closed to traffic from the Markleeville Courthouse to the junction of Highways 89 and 4.

Monitor (Hwy 89) & Ebbetts Pass (Hwy 4) will be closed to vehicular traffic starting at 5:00am. Monitor Pass reopens to vehicular traffic at 12:00pm. Ebbetts Pass reopens to vehicular traffic at 3:00pm.

Highway 89 from Woodfords to the Markleeville Courthouse will remain open.

Please adhere to posted speed zones and early morning parking crews.

No cars to worry about, but tired riders on Ebbetts Pass are a much greater risk in my experience—riders who weave across the entire width of the road because of the steepness, a bad mix for those coming down fast—I plan on keeping my downhill speed modest given the huge number of riders as all it takes is one clown to cause severe injury in a crash.

2018 Death Ride patch
f1.8 @ 1/900 sec, ISO 20; 2018-07-12 19:32:18
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8 @ 4mm

[low-res image for bot]

Below, Hwy 89 is off to the right and switchbacks and curves its way down the valley just before the hills. Average grade is about 8% and climbs from about 5500 feet to 8314 feet / 2534m altitude at the summit. Ebbetts pass is harder, climbing about 3200 feet to 8730' elevation.

The landscape on the east side of Monitor Pass (Hwy 89)
f2.8 @ 1/2100 sec, ISO 20; 2018-07-12 14:35:08
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 6.6 mm f/2.8 @ 6.6mm

[low-res image for bot]

I’ve been working hard, so I’m sleeping here tonight and mostly resting Friday. A Sprinter van and 4WD do have their benefits—no camping neighbors and a pristine spot in the Toiyabe national forest.

Camping site high in the Toiyabe National Forest near Monitor Pass
f1.8 @ 1/2000 sec, ISO 20; 2018-07-12 19:31:46
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8 @ 4mm

[low-res image for bot]
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