Nearly 3,000 cyclists complete 129-mile Death Ride
Special to the Sun
Maybe the name of the event is misleading after all. Looking at 8-year-old Jenya Kirsch-Posner and 45-year-old Cale Reeder ride their bicycles into Turtle Rock Park early Saturday afternoon, it was difficult to tell they had just done the and#8220;Death Ride.and#8221;
Young Jenya looked tired after completing her 34-mile ride, but not too tired to go looking for her ice cream and not too tired to smile about meeting her primary goals. And Reeder reveled in the moment as he turned off Highway 89 at the end of his 129-mile, five-pass tour.
and#8220;Woo-Woo!and#8221; Reeder exclaimed at the end of a ride in which he timed himself in 7 hours, 9 minutes.
Those are just two of the nearly 3,000 stories achieved during the 29th annual Death Ride and#8212; or Tour of the California Alps and#8212; an event presented by the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce that at the very least has earned its name. Just consider that the complete route covers a total of 129 miles and about 15,000 vertical feet of climbing, which includes the east and west slopes of 8,314-foot Monitor Pass, both slopes of 8,730-foot Ebbetts Pass on Highway 4 and finally 8,573-foot Carson Pass on State Route 88.
Riders were further challenged by wind that increased in the afternoon, and like the previous two years, there were scattered rain showers late in the day.
and#8220;This year we gave them rain ponchos as a gift, in hopes that it wouldnand#8217;t rain,and#8221; Death Ride Executive Director Teresa Burkhauser said. and#8220;We try to make everybody happy.and#8221;
Kirsch-Poser completed her one-pass option, a total of 34 miles, in a little over 6 1/2 hours. But her main goal was to ride the one pass and raise money for arts and music programs for the North Oakland Community Charter School, where she will be a third-grader this coming year. She departed from Turtle Rock Park at 6 a.m. and was accompanied on the 34-mile round trip trek by her mother, Tamar Posner of Oakland. Other family members were waiting to cheer her on at the top of Monitor Pass.
and#8220;She wanted to do it as a fundraiser for arts and music at her school, and she did raise more than $3,000,and#8221; Tamar said. and#8220;She did awesome today. We came up here three weeks ago and rode Monitor, so she knew she could do it. She made it to the top in 3 hours, 15 minutes, but with all the riders out there, we waited until it cleared up before we came back down.and#8221;
Though tired afterward, she did enjoy her ice cream.
The Death Ride is not a race, so there are no rewards for speed, other than self satisfaction or a good training ride. Reeder, 45, of Cameron Park, Calif., Was out for a fast time, and said he improved his best time for the Death Ride by 10 minutes. In 2008, he clocked a 7:19, which was a significant improvement from his time of 7:48 in 2007.
and#8220;I was trying to break seven hours, it was just too windy, but Iand#8217;ll take this. Beating my record time is pretty good,and#8221; he said.
Burkhauser expressed thanks to the riders for participating, as well as the more than 700 volunteers who helped stage the event, including communications, medical and safety personnel.
and#8220;We had volunteers from Tahoe and Sacramento, the Boys Scouts from Minden, and of course, all the local non-profit groups,and#8221; Burkhauser said. and#8220;One person doesnand#8217;t make this happen. Thereand#8217;s an army of us.and#8221;
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