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Bicyclist in Climb to Kaiser ride dies

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POSTED July 2, 2012 1:39 a.m.

FRESNO (AP) — A Southern California man taking part in what is considered one of America’s most grueling bicycle rides has been killed after he lost control of his bicycle and hit a tree.

Nicola Grossi, of La Mesa, Calif., was riding down a steep descent on a road near Shaver Lake, in the Sierra Nevada about 60 miles northeast of Fresno, when he lost control of his bicycle on a curve, went off an embankment and hit the tree around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, authorities said.

CHP officers, deputies and paramedics tried to render medical aid, but Grossi died at the scene, the CHP said.

Grossi was taking part in the Climb to Kaiser, an endurance ride considered to be one America’s 10 toughest bike rides, as rated by Bicycling Magazine. He was listed as a first-time participant.

“This is the hardest part of the course as far as the descent goes,” ride organizer John Craft told The Associated Press.

“It is a very steep road, with some corners that you gather up speed real quick,” he said.

Craft said the section of roadway leading to where Grossi crashed is marked with cautionary signs.

In addition, the event’s handout material that maps out directions and rest stops states for that area: “Steep and winding; use caution on descents.”

Grossi was wearing a helmet when he crashed, a requirement of all entrants, Craft said.

“He would have been pulled from the course if he did not have a helmet,” he said.

The ride, which begins in Clovis, is 155 miles long and requires about 15,500 feet of cumulative climbing before riders reach a turnaround point near Kaiser Pass and return, Craft said. Shorter 62- and 100-mile rides are also offered.

Grossi, listed on the event’s registration list as 42-years-old, was one of 373 bicyclists registered for the rides.

The Fresno County Coroner’s Office said an autopsy was scheduled.

Grossi’s death is the second fatality in the 36 years of the ride, according to Craft.

In 2003 a rider from the San Francisco suburb of Tiburon was killed when he was riding downhill on the same road close to where Grossi was killed and collided with a truck.

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