Saturday, July 31, 2010

2010 RAMROD (Ride Around Mount Rainier In One Day)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It was an early start to a very long day! I was up when my alarm went off at 3:00 AM. I got dressed, got my bike into my car, stretched and then I was out the door for the 10 mile drive to the start at the Enumclaw H.S. At the high school I enjoyed a hearty breakfast, courtesy of the local rotary and lions club, of scrambled eggs, sausage, juice, waffle, hot oatmeal, and coffee. It was a foggy morning. The marine layer was thick, seems to be the weather pattern this month, causing condensation on my glasses as I rode. So I had to remove them for the first 58 miles of the ride.

I left the start with the rest of the riders at 5:00 AM. The streets were quiet and the traffic, well there wasn't very much. At each major intersection though we had a police officer there making sure we crossed without difficulty. The route continued through the towns of Buckley, South Prairie, Orting, and finally arriving at our first rest stop in the town of Eatonville. I was averaging almost 16 mph when I reached Eatonville but the course was downhill to Orville Road (mile 13) and then flat and then a very gradual rise to Eatonville. But this would soon end.

A "hill" greeted me as I left Eatonville. From Eatonville (elevation 800 feet) we had a gradual climb for the next 25 miles. Our second rest stop was at mile 58.2 (elevation 2010) just half a mile from the Nisqually entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park.

Mounthaven rest stop mile 58.2 just half a mile from the park entrance. The fog begins to clear just as I leave the rest stop.
Approaching the park entrance and the start of the 18 mile climb to the summit near Paradise. Next rest stop is 18 miles up at Inspiration Point. This was also our first checkpoint. As we entered the park we had to show the ranger and members from the bike club our number.

The ride from the park entrance to Longmire (6 miles to Longmire from the entrance) was beautiful. The climbing began as soon as we entered but it wasn't too bad . . . yet! The ride up was along the river and through the most beautiful lush forest I have ever seen. After 6 miles I reached Longmire and here the climb stiffened up. Plainly put, it got pretty steep! So from the park entrance we went from 2010 feet to 4800 feet in less than 18 miles. But the rewards upon reaching Inspiration Point were well worth the effort of the climb.

This picture was taken about a quarter mile from the Inspiration Point rest stop. I just had to get this picture of my bike with Mt. Rainier in the background!
Approaching Inspiration Point and the third rest stop at mile 75.1.

And this is why it's called Inspiration Point but this picture does not do justice to the real thing!
I reached the summit around 11:30 AM. That 16 mph average quickly went down once the climbing began. But I made up some time on the sweet 13 mile descent from the top of Inspiration Point. As I cruised down I passed Reflection Lake and was so tempted to stop and take a picture but I didn't; I just enjoyed the view as it went by. After the thrilling downhill the three mile climb up and over Backbone Ridge began followed by another sweeeeet five mile descent to Box Canyon and our fourth rest stop.

After leaving the rest stop I continued downhill past Ohanapecosh to the junction of highway 123 and the start of the last steep climb of the day, Cayuse! This climb was 11 miles long, very steep, with no shade, and starting 99 miles into the ride! Talk about a long 11 miles . . . it was brutal. Like I said there was no shade at all on this climb up Cayuse. The sun was beating down, and the hill just kept on going and going. I had to rest a few times because I was getting very over heated. I passed a few little waterfalls on the climb up and they created a very cold breeze as I went by. I was tempted a couple times to jump into one! :D And my water was quickly disappearing but 7 miles into the climb there was a water and sanican stop at the Deer Head Trailhead. Thank God because my two water bottles were almost empty. There was this wonderful man spraying riders with a spray bottle and I tell you it felt wonderful! And a wonderful older woman filling our water bottles for us. Refreshed and with full water bottles I continued up the last 4.1 miles to Cayuse Pass and the junction of highway 410. Oh I forgot to mention that we passed through three tunnels on the RAMROD ride. The bike club put up these neat signs that said Bikes In Tunnel but I didn't stop to get a picture. The tunnels were cool and dark but thank goodness not too long. The final tunnel was just 2 miles from the top of Cayuse . . . onward and upward!

Finally I reached the top of Cayuse Pass at 3:07 PM! Woot woot! It only took me just under two hours to climb Cayuse! But the downhill from the top of Cayuse to the Deli stop 8 miles below only took me 12 minutes. It was one thrilling ride from Cayuse Pass to the Deli Rest Stop. The road was in great shape and there was hardly any traffic! I was flying down at 40+ mph! My overheated body quickly cooled and I felt like I was flying. It made me think of the Tour de France, coming down a steep mountain stage in the Alps or Pyrenees. It was wonderful, exhilarating, and it made me smile from ear to ear! It was pure pleasure and excitement. Finally I reached the park's exit. After exiting the park, a few yards ahead, I turned right onto Crystal Mountain Blvd and into the Deli Stop.

The people were great and the food tasted wonderful. After a day of cookies, fruit, bagels, and peanut butter, a ham with Swiss sandwich, with lettuce tomatoes and a side of salty chips and a bunch of grapes . . . I was in heaven! I stayed a little too long at the Deli stop, leaving at 4:11 PM.

Only 35 miles to Enumclaw and the finish line. You're probably thinking all downhill to Enumclaw, well that's a half truth. The first 15 miles were nice. But after Greenwater there were a few little climbs left to do. Nothing bad but after a day of climbing through the park they were tough. And there was a headwind . . . of course there was! Finally 27 miles after leaving the Deli stop I saw an officer at the Mud Mountain Dam turn off waiting to help us cyclists make the left hand turn off of highway 410 onto Mud Mountain Dam Road. He yelled out encouragement as I turned, "You are almost there, only a little over 9 miles to the finish!" I thanked him and continued on. There was a sweet fast downhill off mud mountain onto the Enumclaw plateau and then I was on the out skirts of town.

About half a mile before the finish there was one more officer stationed at a busy intersection to help us again cross highway 410. And then it was just two and half blocks to the finish line. Finally there was the school where it all began only 13 hours and 11 minutes ago! As I approached people were clapping and cheering and woot wooting for me as I entered the finish and crossed the line. I made it! I crossed around 6:11 PM and a great guy handed me my official 2010 RAMROD patch! He told me job well done and reminded me to go and get my ice cream, which I did! It was delicious! The perfect treat at the finish line! :)

Total miles 148.13, average speed 12.9, ride time 11:28, total time 13:11, and elevation 10,127 feet of climbing.

A BIG THANK YOU to the Redmond Cycling Club for a day of cycling I will not soon forget! It was an A+++ ride and all the people involved, support, rest stop folks, officers, just everyone were great! You made my ride a very memorable one.


JC said...

Fantastic! What an adventure and what beautiful weather! You are so lucky to have clear skies. The mountain looks beautiful! Great riding, great story! Incredible accomplishment!

Anonymous said...

You have become my new hero! I was googling information on Tour De Whatcom and stumbled upon your page. It is great, you are great. I am now inspired to ride either RAMROD or STP one day for next year. I enjoy riding alone, so it is inspiring to see that endurance rides can be done solo. Here come the questions...


Sue said...

Thanks JC! It was the perfect day for the ride. Once I reached the park the sun popped out, the sky cleared and it was just gorgeous riding the rest of the day. The mountain against that blue sky was just so magnificent, words can't describe it.

I would be happy to answer your questions Tracy!

Tracy my big advice is to really train for the rides. I began training for my two big summer rides the first week of March. I joined my local bike club's training series too. A 16 week long series of bike rides. We started the first week in March with a 25 mile ride and every weekend we increased the distance and hills. The last ride of the series (two weeks before stp) was 130 miles long. Here is a link to Cascade Bike Club's training series from this year:

From that page click on the schedule link to see this year's scheduled rides.


Saul of Seattle said...

Quite a ride, Sue. One tends to forget the pain and only remember the glory. I thought the deli sandwiches were the greatest thing I'd ever tasted too. Well, are we ready for RR 2011?

Sue said...

Maybe Saul . . . Maybe. Are you ready for RR 2011? :)

Cookie said...

Hi Sue,
Would you believe I'm just checking out your blog! I was re-reading email from you and came across the link that I didn't immediately get to! Congratulations are in order for a fantastic feat! Brava, Sue!
Luv ya!