We went to bed early the night before. I slept well, Michael not so well. At 3:30 a.m. we got up, had some cold oatmeal and drove down to Turtle Rock Park. Volunteers with flashlights directed us where to park by the side of the road.

Click on any photo for a larger view.

Tires were pumped up. We each made a run for the bushes, checked and double checked that we had everything needed and then pushed off.

We certainly weren't traveling light.

It was 5:30. As usual the descent down into Markleeville was cold. Michael and I rode together 7.5 miles to where the route makes a left turn and then climbs the road up Monitor, the first pass.

The pace slowed and in short order we were climbing some of the steepest grades of the Death Ride. I left Michael behind and rode at my own pace. It is 7.5 miles to the top.

At the top I got my first sticker and continued on, passing up the first rest stop.

Here’s the start of the descent down the backside of Monitor—a real howler on well surfaced roads.