Death Ride Survival Tips

Let me preface this post by saying I’ve never done the Death Ride and that I don’t know much about it except that it consists of 15000 of climbing spread out over 129 miles and 5 long climbs (a team member was kind enough to give me some analysis of the ride as part of his question below in italics).  A couple TriForce members are doing the ride and one of them who is a bit concerned about his preparation asked me for some final tips and wisdom.   Since I’m not an expert on the event, these tips come more from the common sense / general principles category.  (OK, you caught me… I’m just posting this Q&A on the blog just because I love the Death Ride picture / poster from this year so much!)

If anyone reading this has more tips or links to helpful Death Ride information, please feel free to post them in the comments section!

Pass 1: Distance7.3 mi Avg Grade6.5% Lowest Elevation5,701 ft Highest
Elevation8,224 ft Elev Difference2,523 ft

Pass 2: Distance9.1 mi Avg Grade6.2% Lowest Elevation5,239 ft Highest
Elevation8,234 ft Elev Difference2,995 ft

Pass 3: Distance10.8 mi Avg Grade4.9% Lowest Elevation5,877 ft Highest
Elevation8,657 ft Elev Difference2,781 ft

Pass 4: Distance5.2 mi Avg Grade5.6% Lowest Elevation7,103 ft Highest
Elevation8,676 ft Elev Difference1,572 ft

Pass 5:(From 88/89 junction) Distance14.7 mi Avg Grade3.6% Lowest
Elevation5,655 ft Highest Elevation8,466 ft Elev Difference2,811 ft

Time estimates for me. (I use 2*KOM on strava. KOM is the fastest time
on a climb in

Pass 1: 1.5 hrs (KOM: 42 mins)
Pass 2: 2 hrs (KOM: 56 mins)
Pass 3: 2 hrs (KOM: 56 mins)
Pass 4: 1 hr (KOM: 30 mins)
Pass 5: 2 hrs 40 mins (KOM: 1:19) (3 hrs or so, since I will be pretty
much dead by this time.)

I am estimating at least 9-10 hours of climbing 🙂 This is going to be
my hardest workout ever (if my legs and my back hold up for that

I am looking for tips on nutrition + hydration and do and don’ts.
Please give me any advice that you’d think will help me to finish
these 124 miles.

Here are some keys:

GET THE PROPER GEARING! The more gears you have on your bike, the more freedom you’l have to control your effort and cadence.  You want to spend as little time as possible grinding away at a very low cadence / high effort.  (see below)

PACING: basically go easy (as easy as possible given the terrain); riding 10 hours in your steady zone or above is a HARD day!   Wear your heart rate monitor and try to keep the HR LOW whenver you can (e.g., my Ironman / lower steady HR is 143 and if I was in your position I’d aim to keep my HR in the 130s whenever the terrain allowed)

AVOID HIGH TORC SITUATIONS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE: one special challenge of doing so much climbing in a day is that your quads will be FRIED if you spend too much time at low cadences (below 70).  So do your best to spend as much time riding at 80-90+ cadence when terrain allows— your quads will be grateful!!!!

NUTRITION: Don’t rely only on gorging at aid stations.  If I was doing it I’d use a camelback containing sports drink and refill at the top of every climb.  I’d target at least 200 / hour on the bike + eating at the aid stations.  A camelback holds lots of fluid and also makes it much easier to consume than using bottles (I personally would tend to get lazy about grabbing my bottle after a few hours in the saddle).  As I understand it they have 2 aid stations / climb which comes out to about 1/ hour according to your estimates.    Also, carry a bit of emergency nutrition & some cash in case.

HYDRATION: if it’s going to be hot I’d personally target over a liter of fluid per hour looking to pee about once / hour to 90 minutes or so (if you’re peeing more than that you can slow down on your drinking a bit).  SUPPLEMENT YOUR ELECTROLYTES.  Use a supplement like endurolytes (the exact brand doesn’t matter).  If you’re drinking sports drink that already has salts you don’t need to use as much.  If you’re mostly drinking water than follow the full directions on the bottle.  Also, if it’s hot do your best to stay cool by pouring water through your helmet vents.

TAKE BREAKS BEFORE YOU REALLY NEED THEM. If you are getting tired and think you’ll need a break / rest, then stop BEFORE you reach your limit to give yourself a rest.  Don’t wait until you MUST stop!

Good luck!!!

About Coady

Lucky to be coaching some really awesome & fun people!
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