Death Ride, Markleeville Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

2.1
FIETS
104.2 mi
DISTANCE
14,399 ft
GAINED
0 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS
TOUR DETAILS & STATS
2021 Tour de France

INTRO

The Death Ride is a very well supported and challenging ride in the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains approximately 30 miles southeast of South Lake Tahoe. This is not a race and riders/climbers may climb as many or as few passes as they wish. The event is grueling, but the support exceptional and with 3,500 riders spread out over the course (many leaving before dawn), you are always around or near someone during the ride. 
We climb 14,399' on the new version of the Death Ride which substitutes Pacific Grade for Carson Pass.  The average grade for ascent only (excluding flat and descent) is 5.3%.  The steepest (a) quarter mile is 12.5% (Pacific Grade), (b) mile is 10% (Monitor West), (c) 2 miles is 8.6% (Monitor West) and (d) 5 miles 7.7% (Monitor East).  22% of the route is at 5-10% and 3.7% is at 10-15% average grade.  See our Profile Tool for more gradient details. 
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ROUTE MAP
PROFILE TOOL

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CLIMB SUMMARY

PJAMM Cyclists pose at the finish of 2015 Death ride 

PJAMM 2015

Death Ride: 5 for 5 - YEAH!

profile tools, graph, profile grid, elevation, distance chart, Death Ride

PJAMM’s Profile Tool

Click on “Profile Tool” just below “Full Summary” for interactive data.

DEATH RIDE RIDE STATS:

  • 104.2 Miles
  • 14,399’ gained (full ride)
  • Gradient Review:
  • 50% of the ride is at 0% elevation or is descending;
  • 23.9% at 0-5%
  • 21.9% at 5-10%
  • 3.7% at 10-15%
  • < 1% at 15-20%
  • Steepest segments:
  • ¼ mile = 12.5% on Ebbetts Pass West
  • ½ mile = 11% on Monitor Pass East
  • 1 mile = 10% on Monitor Pass East
  • Climbs ranked by difficulty (in PJAMM’s experience and opinion)
  • Monitor East
  • Ebbetts East
  • Monitor West
  • Ebbetts West
  • Pacific Grade

Five passes of the Death Ride - Monitor East, Ebbetts, East, Monitor West, Ebbetts West, Pacific Grade

Five passes (you go over Monitor and Ebbets twice).

The Death Ride is an extremely challenging yet fun event.  It is very well organized and in our three times participating, we have never had any form of bad experience - it’s all good . . . well, except for 127 miles and 15,000’ of climbing in one day - OUCH!

INTERESTING AND IMPORTANT FACTS:

  • 2021 Is the 40th Anniversary of the Death Ride
  • This was a timed race until 1987
  • This event began as gathering of 17 friends looking for a challenge.
  • Check in from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday before the ride, or beginning at 4:00 a.m. the morning of the event.
  • The official start time is 5 a.m. or later (but, many people begin earlier)
  • You must be off the course by 6:30 p.m.
  • Ice cream this year is at the end, as the customary ice cream spot was Carson Pass.
  • KOM for Death Ride 2021 Route: Peter Stetina at 5:15:45 (Strava Page).

HERE ARE YOUR OPTIONS

Climb

Distance

Elevation Gain

Average Grade

FIETS INDEX

Summit Elevation

Monitor West

8.2

2,636

6.2%

6.36

8,330

Monitor East

9.5

3,227

6.7%

7.91

8,330

Ebbetts East

11.4

2,954

5.2%

6.02

8,750

Ebbetts West

5.2

1,678

6.0%

4.78

8,750

Pacific Grade

14.7

2,980

3.7%

4.94

8,545

Routes

2 Passes - Ebbetts East and West

51.5

               6,110'

2 Passes - Monitor West Ebetts East

57.5

              7,078’

2 Passes - Monitor West and East

50.3

              7,176'

3 Passes - Monitor West, Ebbetts East/West

67.7

              8,789'

3 Passes - Monitor East/West, Ebbetts East

76

            10,284'

3 Passes - Ebbetts East/West, Pacific Grade

68.9

8,266’

4 Passes Monitor West/East, Ebbetts East/West

86.3

             11,988'

4 Passes: Monitor West, Ebbetts East/West, Pacific Grade

84

10,859’

5 Passes: Monitor West/East, Ebbetts East/West, Pacific Grade

104

14,208’

START

The ride begins at Turtle Rock - early!

cyclists eat a pancake and egg breakfast before beginning the Death Ride

Nice pancake and egg breakfast.

PJAMM Cyclists stand with their bikes before sunrise, at start of Death Ride

Bring your lights and a windvest/jacket.

MONITOR WEST

profile tools, graph, profile grid, elevation, distance chart, Monitor West, Death Ride

Ride 8.2 miles gaining 2,648’ at 6.1% average grade.

PJAMM CYCLING’S PROFILE TOOL

This will be the easiest of the day because it is first, and fairly mild with a consistent 6% average grade.

Cyclists begin the climb of Monitor Pass West, Death Ride

Start.

Cyclists stand with bikes next to stone sign on Monitor Pass West portion of Death Ride

Monitor Pass.

MONITOR PASS EAST

profile tools, graph, profile grid, elevation, distance chart, Monitor Pass East, Death Ride

Ride 9.5 miles gaining 3,261’ at 6.5% average grade.

PJAMM CYCLING’S PROFILE TOOL

This is the hardest climb of them all and a Top 100 US bike climb.  It is a grueling 9.5 miles at 6.7% average grade.  You will be ascending in the early morning so the temperatures, which can be stifling in the afternoon in the summer, will be mild and manageable.

Cyclists on bikes at the base of Monitor Pass east, start of climb #2 of death ride 

Bottom of Monitor East - Start of Climb #2.

Cyclists on bikes next to stone sign during Monitor Pass East portion of death ride

Monitor Pass . . . again . . .

EBBETTS PASS EAST

profile tools, graph, profile grid, elevation, distance chart, Ebbetts Pass East, Death Ride

Ride 11.4 miles gaining 2,951’ at 4.9% average grade.

PJAMM CYCLING’S PROFILE TOOL

It’s starting to hurt now.  This is the longest climb, and while only 5.2% grade, has some steep segments to it (e.g. half a mile at 9.9%).

PJAMM Cyclists climb on Ebbetts Pass East, the steepest segment of the Death Ride

The steepest segment (quarter-mile at 10.9%).

Cyclists congregate next to sign for Ebbetts Pass, Death Ride

Ebbetts Pass.

PACIFIC GRADE

profile tools, graph, profile grid, elevation, distance chart, Pacific Grade, Death Ride

Ride 2.3 miles gaining 963’ at 7.9% average grade.

PJAMM CYCLING’S PROFILE TOOL

Pacific Grade is new to the Death Ride this year.  Carson Pass has been eliminated and replaced with Pacific Grade.  We feel this greatly improves the quality of the ride because Caron Pass is extremely busy with fast moving traffic and the west side of Ebbetts (including Pacific Grade) replacing it is much more scenic, peaceful, and quiet.

Panoramic view looking down on Pacific Grade, one-lane mountain road, pine trees, alpine setting, blue sky and white clouds in distance

Cycling Pacific Summit

Ride 2.3 miles gaining 963’ at 7.9% average grade.

This is a fairly short climb but it packs a bit of a punch because the gradient is not uniform. Instead there are several steep sections, interspersed with shallower sections. It is difficult to get into a rhythm with the different slopes.  It might be tempting to just power through the steep sections, but slow and steady could be a better approach.

Photo collage of views along the Pacific Grade climb, alpine setting, newly paved roadway, alpine lake

EBBETTS PASS WEST

profile tools, graph, profile grid, elevation, distance chart, Ebbetts Pass West, Death Ride

Ride 5.2 miles gaining 1,654” at 6% average grade.

PJAMM CYCLING’S PROFILE TOOL

The fifth and final leg of the Death Ride is blessedly short at 5.2 miles (6% average grade).

Six PJAMM Cyclists stand with bikes at the bottom of the Ebbets Pass West climb on the Death Ride

Bottom of Ebbetts Pass West.

Cyclists congregate next to sign for Ebbetts Pass during the Death Ride 

Sign for the Death Ride signed by riders

PJAMM Cyclist John Johnson stands with Team Swift member eating ice cream at the finish of the Death Ride

Ice cream at the finish!