Sonora Pass 2001
Ron Roth’s education in climbing


Ron Roth accompanied me out to California to do the Death Ride in July, 2001. It was my ninth time doing the event, his first. My brother Patrick and I knew we couldn't just toss Ron in there without some breaking in. We rubbed our hands and contemplated a worthy ride to do the week before. Pat was keen to do Sonora, his favorite pass. I was fine with that—hadn’t done it before. Ron himself had read about Sonora Pass on the internet and thought it sounded like a neat challenge.

Friday, July 6, just a couple days after we arrived from New York, Pat drove the three of us up into the mountains. On the way he gave Ron, who had never ridden in the high elevations of the mountains before, a talk about what he faced. He cautioned Ron that initially when climbing he might feel that his lungs were about to burst and that he had no energy. Pat then said, "Trust me, keep going. When you get up to the top of the pass you will feel better than you did when you first started climbing."

The route took us up and over the pass, down the other side to a town named Bridgeport where we turned around and came back. We did both sides of Sonora. We might have picked an easier ride to start Ron off with. It proved the hardest pass I’ve ever ridden—Ron cut his teeth on a tough one and this just a couple weeks before his fiftieth birthday.

The pages to the right chronicle our exploits in words and pictures (BikeCam™ was aboard). Check out the map.

Timothy McCarthy
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