Training for the Deathride

Hello, forum. For various reasons I got behind in my training for the mid-July Deathride (129 miles, 15k vertical). I bought a Kickr Core and joined TR in the hope that structured training would make better use of the remaining time. However, I can’t do the full base/build/specialty sequence, probably half of it, so I’m trying to figure out where to start and what to skip.

I’ve been riding on/off since January, so I’m not starting from scratch. I have time for the high volume blocks. Should I start from the beginning and just get as far as time allows, or should I do only the first (or second) half of SSB and then jump to Sustained Power Build? Or is there some other approach?

I’ve gotten by in the past doing about 400 hilly miles/month with hill repeats on the weekend.

Thanks for the help,


A few thoughts here:

Personally I’d focus first on high-volume sweet spot base. Explain to me: Why does the sweet spot base phase HV have a higher TSS than any of the build or specialty plans? - #8 by bbarrera

I’m a heavy rider and not a fast climber.


Did that way back around 2004. Definitely practice descending switchbacks and riding at altitude if you have a chance. Also bear in mind (unless it’s changed), there’s no parking lot and no official start. It’s park on the side of the road and take off at first light, unless you have lights. So get there early. Good luck!

Would you start at Vol 1 or Vol 2? My thought was to do SSB High Vol 2 and then go to Build. Thanks for the links; I’ll check out the articles today.

I focused on weight loss during my winter riding, so I’m already near my target weight. Now I need to up the FTP.

This will be my 5th DR; I cramped like the devil at 90 miles the first year but have finished the last 3. It’s changed since 2004, but has also dropped in attendance (down 30% over just the last few years - lots of competition from other rides). Yeah - the switchbacks are challenging, especially Monitor. I stayed at the Carson River Resort last year and began/ended my ride there. That avoided an extra layer for the initial descent into Markleeville.

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I trained for the DeathRide 3 years ago, before owning a trainer and TrainerRoad. About this time of year I had built up to doing longer outside sweet spot intervals, maybe 15-20 minutes. And then built up to doing 1 hour sweet spot intervals twice a week during May and June. Because my training was outside into a headwind on flat roads, those were really more threshold efforts. Found an earlier post about overall zero-to-hero training experience here:

Not counting this week, you’ve got 15 weeks to train and 1 week taper? So yeah, 6 weeks SSB-HV-2 and then 8 weeks Sustained Power Build sounds like a good plan. Given my prior experience, over time I would substitute longer 30-60 min sweet spot/threshold intervals for the 20 and 30 min jobbers in the plan. I’d also try and do some training rides in the hills/mountains.


Thanks for the links and shared experience; it helps to hear others discussing Deathride strategy. Was your DR the year someone wrote “Go Ben” around the course? I have a funny story there.

Good to know the plans allow variation. I live in the South Puget Sound and there are some good climbs nearby. I think hill repeats were the best thing I did for last year’s ride.


I don’t remember that, but its been 3 years and a lot of miles since that epic day!

Its not that far to the foothills from here, and if I lived closer then definitely would have been doing more hill repeats! I’ve been really happy with building out strength endurance by doing longer intervals on the flats, or saving some time and doing them on the trainer.

Hi bbarrera,

After talking to the guys I ride with, they recommend I start with SSB Low. I’m 60, weigh 170 and my FTP is 190 (probably a tad higher because I tested when sore and tired). I work from a home office so I crave daily exercise. I’m used to doing about 20 rides/month, 75-90 minutes each, around 60-70%. Good quantity, low-ish quality.

Is there a way to split the difference between SSB Low and Mid to add another workout, or is the answer simply to do low intensity rides on the days off?

Also, do you have any idea what a realistic 12 week FTP improvement would be?


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comparing weeks 3 and 4:

SSB-1 Low

SSB-1 Mid

Mid volume adds an aerobic endurance ride on Wed, and a Sunday ride.

Looking at those weeks, Monitor+1 is close to approximating the duration of my own climb up Monitor West (80 minutes) and Monitor East (105 minutes). Keep in mind I’m a slow and steady climber - wanted the 5 pass jersey on first try! The Saturday and Sunday workouts in high volume plan have 120 minute workouts with 80-90 minutes total time in sweet spot, which are better targets to prepare for my long climbs up Monitor, Ebbetts East, and Carson.

A good recommendation when getting started is to focus on doing all the workouts in low volume plan, and then adding rides if you have time. So I would suggest putting SSB low volume on your calendar, and then if you have time look at mid and high-volume plans for guidance on what to add.

I’m a couple years younger and respond to volume, but don’t always have time because of work and family obligations. Have done both SSB1 High and Mid volumes, and finished the 6 week training block with something like 4-6% bump in ftp. More importantly I can go out and do long 1-3 hour climbs and feel strong. My ftp over 3+ seasons has been between 220-280, and in the last year have seen ftp bounce up and down in a narrower 220-250W range (while working on knee issues).

Thanks, bbarrera. That was helpful. TR is a lot to take in, but it’s starting to gel.

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Don’t hesitate to ask questions! And enjoy the DeathRide, nothing better than eating ice cream on top of Carson pass!


I never rode the DR, but I’ve wrenched at the Ebbets Pass aid station the last several years. From what I’ve seen its better to start early. The early riders always look much better off than the late riders. Starting early also keeps you clear of the worst weather, whether that be heat or thunder showers.

Make sure your drive train is in tip top shape, and that you’ve got low enough gearing. Nobody I’ve talked with has said they wished they had a larger chain ring or a smaller cassette. Strangely for a road event you see a lot of bent derailleurs. I think a lot of riders lean on the shiftier trying to get 1 more gear and bend the hanger. Might be worth throwing a spare hanger in your kit.

The most common repair is cleaning speedplay cleats. The aid stations are mostly in the dirt and the combo of sweat, oil, tree sap and sierra moon dust will see the cleats locking up. Its pretty common for people to roll up at the aid station, jerk their feet a couple times then fall over. If you have the option, switch to a Look or an SPD. If not, throw a old tooth brush into your pocket and give the cleat a quick brush when you get on the pavement. Or you can have us at the mech tent take care of you.

Don’t lollygag at the aid stations. The guys that find a chair and chill for 30 minutes at Ebbets often don’t get all their passes done.


Nice! Ebbetts Pass isn’t a bad place to spend a Saturday afternoon. Did you get soaked last year? I started at 4:15 and heard that quite a few riders were held up there for 30 minutes due to a thunder storm.

Your comments are spot on, especially gearing. Over the past 4 rides, I’ve gone from a mid-compact/11-28 to a compact/11-28 to a compact/12-30. I just called the LBS to order parts to go to 11-34. If I’ve learned anything from TrainerRoad, it’s the value of high cadence.

Also, with Look pedals, I find the clip-on cleat covers really help at the rest stops, especially around the drink tables.


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Last year we had a group of riders that were way off the back. They stopped for a thunder shower that just kept going…got cooled off…then the air got cold. They were headed towards hypothermia. They made the right decision to pack it in. We ended up hauling them all the way back to the event venue. My Bernese Mountain Dog thought he’d died and gone to heaven getting to share the back seat of the tundra with three guys that were looking for warmth.

Uh, this is a little OT, but how many TR workouts are named after landmarks in the Deathride?

Well, there’s also a Kingsbury, but no Luther, both of which were in the earliest versions of the DR. Can’t be a coincidence.

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TR workouts are named after mountains, that’s why.

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Hi JMickel - there’s a cryptic note on the Deathride Facebook page that states: “2020 will see changes so this is your chance to ride the original Death Ride course!” Any idea what that’s all about?

Another question along those lines… Did it in 2016, the map and my jersey says 129 miles and 5 passes. But everyone I rode with had 123 miles. Asked a buddy that did it in the late 80s and early 90s, and he said back then they turned at Pickett’s and did 3 miles up and back on Luther Pass (towards South Lake Tahoe, before the final ascent to Carson Pass. Is that true?