The weather was unusually mild. At the start, at 3:00 PM in Death Valley, it was only 89 degrees. Of course, mild weather at the start always equals cold weather at the finish--in the teens up on Whitney Portal. According to some people who headed up the mountain, there were drifts up to four feet deep.
Here an image that Ginger took- it shows four riders climbing a small hill only 5 or 6 miles from the start. Badwater---the lowest part of Death Valley--is off in the distance on the right side, at the base of the small ridge. As the picture clearly shows, the last rider (Ken) is picking himself up off the ground. The four riders were riding in a close pack to conserve energy and when his front wheel rubbed someone's back wheel, he went horizontal. A torn jersey, some blood, and minor medical care later, he was back and finished the ride in the wee hours of the morning.