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Death Ride a success

Streaks of lycra covered Alpine County roads Saturday, as 2,700 Death Ride cyclists attempted to ride five mountain passes.

Organizers reported no serious medical cases, with more than half of the participants completing the entire 16,000-foot elevation gain.

The ride signed up more first timers this year than ever before at almost 40 percent, said Alpine County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bob Anderson.



In the ride’s 20 years of operation, no more than 15 percent usually brave all the climbs and distance. Most riders elect to do two or three passes, Anderson said. This year the chamber and Alta Alpina Cycling Club created a Web site for the ride. The ride’s $50,000 in proceeds pays half of the chamber’s yearly operating costs.

“When we went on line, the playing field (to sign up) was essentially leveled,” Anderson said.



Among those who completed all five passes, Dr. Paul Rork of Tahoe Family Physicians said Sunday that he “slept really well” the night before. He started pedaling at 5:30 a.m. and wheeled into Turtle Rock County Park more than 12 hours later, despite a hole in his tire that kept deflating his tube along the way.

Rork was accompanied halfway through the 129-mile ride by fellow doctor and cyclist Terry Orr, who also rolled over five passes when he wasn’t attending to his own flat tires. The two men, riding on a challenge made months ago, received a pin that recognizes the accomplishment.

Participants collect stickers on their bibs for each mountain pass. Completing five earns them a pin that “some people would die for,” Anderson said. He recalled an Australian cyclist calling from his homeland to get another when he declared he lost the one issued.

The pins are exemplary of a lot of hard physical work and dedication from supporters, who were out in full force from early Saturday morning to early evening.

Tracy Dominguez of Reno parked her truck on Highway 89 north of the park’s staging area to catch a glimpse of her husband Frank, who awakened at 3:30 a.m. to a flat tire before he even arrived at the starting line.

“I hope he makes it this far,” she said, waiting with the couple’s Akita dog Kodi.

Closer to the park’s entrance, Trudy Shenk waited under a sun umbrella for her husband Terry of Las Vegas, who was participating for the fifth time. Shenk was attempting to complete all five passes, but his wife said their house-remodeling job kept him from training as much as he had planned.

Still, she’s 100 percent supportive.

“I thought my car wasn’t going to make it up the road,” she said of the couple’s scouting trip up Monitor Pass.

The route required the riders go out and return from Monitor, then Ebbett’s and on to Carson Pass on the far end of the course.

Signs like “Way to Go” and “Stanley rocks” urged the riders on between the 12 rest stops.

The police presence, emergency crews on hand and heightened awareness among motorists made for some of the safest cycling conditions a rider could ask for, said Billy Richmond, of San Jose, Calif., as he took a break at Picketts Junction.

Tail winds on Carson Pass blew riders in to the finish line. Many, like massage therapist Alan Fong of Maui, opted to hit the line of massage tables waiting.

Waiting for the dinner feast, riders littered the park grounds. As the live band was setting up on stage, from a radio or CD player the sounds of Chumba Wumba filled the air.

“I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down.”


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