I did two short, but tough rides over the weekend. The first was with Rob up Monitor pass which is the first climb in the Death Ride. The second was Kingsbury Grade which separates Tahoe from the rest of Nevada, and is the road I've called home for the past 7 years. Monitor is about 11 miles and 3000' and Kingsbury is 7.7 miles and 2500' from the Carson Valley side. After completing Monitor we headed toward Ebbett's pass (the third of the Death Ride), but didn't give it a serious attempt.
Climbing Kingsbury Grade was a mental block for me. Being in my backyard it has loomed over, jeering me with my inability to conquer it. The dread of climbing Kingsbury kept my road bike in the garage for many years.
For me Kingsbury is a difficult climb because I can see the whole of the serpentine switchback up to Tahoe from Carson Valley. To a cyclist it is ominous. When climbing, every turn affords a view of another stretch of road a distant 500' higher. It wears you down mentally.
The only way for me to finish the climb was to convince myself not to stop pedaling until I reached the summit post sign, and that's what I did. But coming down... there is nothing like speeding down a mountain at 45mphs on a 20 pound bike with 3/4" tires with nothing protecting you but a thin sheath of Lycra to remind you that you are alive.
Here are some pictures from Monitor. Once you have your fitness on, the riding in the Sierra south of Tahoe has few equals. The scenery is stunning, and the roads vacant. (Rob ready to turn onto Monitor)
(Rob looking strong 2/3rds of the way up Monitor)
(Top of Monitor, sporting one hell of a farmer's tan)
(Creek on the way up Ebbett's pass)