wild sierra alta alpina challange

Freedom Riders Riding the Wild Sierra: The Alta Alpina Challenge

A little choice never hurt anyone, and Alta Alpina Cycling Club, based in Carson City, NV, Markleeville, CA and Lake Tahoe, CA, acknowledges this concept. With the “Build Your Own Challenge” ride, cyclists can personalize a route to include anywhere from one to six of Markleeville’s nearby mountain passes.

In this respect, a road ride could be as little as 35 miles with only 3,600 feet of climbing, to as much as 160 miles with 17,500 feet of climbing.


Such freedom opens the doors for cyclists of all abilities, all ages, and especially for cyclists at different stages of training. For example, a cyclist in his or her taper week before a scheduled century ride might sign-on for the one pass or two pass challenge.

On the other hand, a cyclist in the twelfth or thirteenth week of a 16-week double century training program will find it necessary to incorporate a 160-mile ride.

Enter the six pass challenge, comprised of six of the Sierra’s hardest climbs – Kingsbury Grade, Luther Pass, Carson Pass, Blue Lakes Road, Monitor Pass East, and Monitor Pass West.

The standard metric-century and century distances have become the mainstream options for most road bike rides in the world. As a result, these distances are routine for many cyclists.

Unsurprisingly, avid roadies are turning to touring, racing, and double century distances as a way to spice up their riding schedule.

Let the Alta Alpina Cycling Club do the legwork for you on June 12, 2010. Many cyclists who plan to do Markleeville’s famous five pass Death Ride in July utilize the Alta Alpina Challenge as a training ride (and not to mention, a huge confidence booster), as the five passes required for the Death Ride are options in the “Build Your Own Challenge” ride.

One of last year's "Build Your Own Challenge" riders, named Heidi, comments, "With the ability to plan and train for a ride that suits your desires/goals in such a wonderful place with such awesome people, I'm thinking they're onto something. Congratulations to Alta Alpina for putting together a truly top-notch event."

Keeping With Convention

Of course, some cyclists love convention, which is why the Alta Alpina Cycling Club still offers a same day 100-mile ride, dubbed the Wild Sierra Century, and an eight pass challenge, or “The World’s Toughest Double Century,” claiming a whopping 20,300 feet of climbing.

Now, try that on for size and if the shoe fits, wear it!

A Nouveau Style of Ride Organization

Yet, for riders who might sport heels one day and tennis shoes the next, embrace the freedom that the “Build Your Own Challenge” gives. While the film Field of Dreams may have led audiences to believe that, “if you build it, they will come,” the Alta Alpina Cycling Club is hinging on the fact that if they - the cyclists - build it, they will come.

In this fashion, freedom riders can unite in a new wave of road riding, sporting a slogan that supports choice. After all, choice is appealing, choice is empowering, and most of all, choice is good.

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John Horton - March 12, 2018

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