Yes, I know that sounds a wee bit melodramatic, but this is a very challenging 100 mile/163 kilometre ride with six highly categorised climbs.
“The Death Ride, also known as the Tour of the California Alps, is the toughest ride on FulGaz. It covers 163 kilometres and 3992 metres of ascent, with six epic climbs over Monitor Pass, Ebbetts Pass, and Carson Pass.
“You’ll experience breathtaking views, thrilling descents, and steep gradients that will push you to your limits. This is not a ride for the faint-hearted. You’ll need to complete as much of the full ride as you can in one single go, with no pausing or saving for later. The clock doesn’t stop, just like in real life. But don’t worry, you can take as many breaks as you need for food, water, or rest. Just keep FulGaz running and enjoy the ride.”
“Enjoy”? What sort of maniacs are they?
So the Challenge was taking place during February 2024. That coincided with the second half of the FulGaz Grand Tour (I had finished 12th out of 160 participants) and then a long weekend in Tenerife and La Gomera riding motorbikes with the Bike Shed and Canary Ride.
Which only really left last weekend. The plan was to ride it on the Saturday but some family coming up and iffy weather forecasts meant a leisurely 8.5km walk around Virginia Water instead. But Sunday was free…
I decided to eat some breakfast and then wander out to the Pain Cave. Our WiFi was acting up despite all the repeaters dotted around the house – probably due to the weather and the vast number of devices all trying to connect at the same time – so I ended up having to play music from my iPad rather than the Apple TV and HomePods in there. That was the same iPad I was running the FulGaz app on, so it was plugged in to the Schwinn to ensure it didn’t suddenly die on me.
A quick Torq Energy Gel – without artificial sweeteners, but more expensive than my usual Science in Sports ones – which was to be the first of many, a few minutes warming up on the Schwinn trying to get my Garmin fēnix 7S and the the 800IC linked up to the iPad/FulGaz, and then I was away.
Fuelling with the gels every 20 minutes and getting through a couple of litres of water and a few espressos and I eventually finished in time for an early dinner with the departing visitors. I’d done it in 6 hours, 31 minutes and 40 seconds, even quicker than the original actual ride time and an hour ahead of my target time:
One thought that kept coming to the fore during the ride was that unlike doing it in real life, you can’t coast down the descents because if you stop pedalling the ride stops too!
At the time of writing, I’m currently 5th of all the finishers and the fastest in the 60-69 year old category. And I have some significant chafing despite my Giro “Baboon Pants”…
So now the only question is “what’s next?”