Sunday, September 28, 2008

Club Ride to Mount Rainier

Riders checking in with ride leader.

Today Joe decided to go hunting instead of going on a bike ride with me so I went on a Cascade Bike Club ride. When I read about the ride on the club's website it sounded like the perfect ride for a beautiful autumn day. The day was very sunny with clear blue skies and afternoon temperatures in the mid 70s. The ride started from the park in the town of Orting and climbed up to the Carbon River Ranger Station on Mount Rainier, returning through the farmland of Buckley and back into Orting. Total miles for today's ride was 62! I had to ask another rider at the end of the ride for the mileage as my cyclocomputer died on me. Probably needs a new battery.

The ride time was listed as 9:30 AM starting from the Orting City Park. When I arrived there were lots of cyclists already there. I parked my car and got my bike ready. Then I went over to meet the ride leader. I introduced myself and told him I was here for his ride. He said he would be giving a description of the ride as soon as everyone signed in. After about 10 minutes everyone was finished signing the ride waiver. Gary, the ride leader, introduced himself and then quickly went over the route for today's ride. He also handed out cue sheets. We were almost ready to leave. Final count, 23 riders, Wow!

Our first brief stop was in the town of Wilkeson.

Yes, it was going to be a beautiful day for a bike ride but we had a chilly start. Overnight a marine layer rolled in but it was already beginning to burn off as we started the ride. The sun was breaking through the mist and fog. It was chilly enough at the beginning that I wore my jacket. By the time we reached our first stop in the town of Wilkeson the sun was out, the fog was gone, and I was ready to put away my jacket. The steady climbing also helped warm me up. We were making good time, everyone was in high spirits, and all agreed that this was going to be a special ride. And it was!

Bridge over the Carbon River just half a short distance from the Ranger Station.

After we left Wilkeson we passed through Carbonado the last town before Mt. Rainier. The ride was a steady climb from Orting. Some climbs were very steep. The climb out of South Prairie must have been a 9 or 10 percent grade (if not more?!!!)! You could feel the burn in your legs on that hill. Finally, after one and half hours of climbing we reached the ranger station where we all took a bathroom break and enjoyed our lunch. Stomachs full and legs rested from the long climb up we were ready for the ride down! And wooo hoooo did we ever fly down the hills! All 23 of us! For me it felt like I was in the tour or a bike race. All of us screaming down hill together like one long living creature coming down the mountain at very high speeds! On our climb up, from the town of Wilkeson, it took us, I believe, an hour but on our way down we were there in half the time!

On or way back down we stopped in Wilkeson to buy water and/or powerade and snacks.
After our rest stop in Wilkeson, to replenish water and snack foods, we were ready for the farmland part of the ride through Buckley which would return us to Orting. This part of the ride was up and down rolling hills with stretches of flat roads where we picked up the pace. Just about 7 miles before the finish we had one winding, swooshing, downhill which dropped us back down into the valley where we jumped onto the Orting Trail where we cooled down on the leisurely multi user trail. After 5 1/2 hours we arrived, all 23 of us, safely and happily back in Orting. What a day, what a ride! I really enjoyed today's club ride and the people I met and rode with. Kudos to the ride leader Gary and to his helpers who made sure everyone was present, doing okay, and not left behind. I'm still smiling from the ride and will save the memory of this ride for when I need it on an especially gloomy winter day.

No comments: