Saturday, July 19, 2008


Back in the 80's, when I rode the STP several times as my big bike adventures, finally working up to doing it in one day, I heard about RAMROD. Riding Around Mt Rainier in One Day. Wow. Those guys must be nuts I thought. I'll never do that...I could probably never do that!

Since I've crossed over to the dark side ... actively randonneuring ... and definitely a bit on the nuts side myself, it has become time to challenge the perception that RAMROD is something I couldn't do. Mark Thomas and several others did the RAMROD Permanent in mid June. I was out of town and couldn't join them, but it planted the seed. They came up with a few tweaks to the course that I finally got around to making to the official Permanent route on Friday. There were a couple of minor questions to resolve before I could finalize them. So, time to ride!

While the Permanent isn't exactly the Redmond Cycle Club official ride, in effect it is the same thing - a one day ride around Mt. Rainier ... roughly 150 miles on the same roads. Lots of climbing ... up to Paradise Lodge at 5,400 feet and Cayuse Pass at 4,675 feet.

I wasn't sure what to expect. While I've ridden most of the roads, I hadn't been up to Paradise in years, don't recall ever having gone between Paradise and 123 on the east side, and have only gone up 123 to Cayuse Pass once - earlier this year on the 600K. The official RAMROD ride starts at 4:30, although folks can start later than that. I decided to maximize my daylight hours ... I'd get up at 4:00 and shoot to be in Enumclaw and ready to ride around 5:30.

I started pedaling at about 5:25. The weather forecast was right on ... at least to start... morning clouds. They were to burn off and then the day would end up in the mid 70's ... lots of blue sky. I didn't see the sun until I was in Mt.Rainier Park ... perhaps 10:15 or so. The clouds were heavy ... and brought Seattle rain ... a light mist ... with them for part of the ride from Eatonville to Elbe or so. Actually it was quite pleasant.

Traffic and roads were pretty good. There were some signs for a Route 162 Detour in Buckley, but no warnings about a road closure. A couple miles later, at the intersection of 162 and 165, the road was closed. Bummer. I went up and asked a worker if I could get through and he said he'd check, as they were just finishing up. A minute or two later, I was on my way ... even though the road was still "closed". That was close ... I really didn't want to have to backtrack and go some extra miles on a detour!

I made decent time from the start to the park entrance, getting there shortly after 9:15 AM ... slightly over 15 mph. The next part, up to Paradise, was much slower ... lots of climbing, but not all that steep. I stopped and took pictures along the way ... that's part of my excuse for taking longer. The mountain, the streams & falls were all gorgeous. Aside from a couple of deer outside South Prairie, no wildlife though.

When I got to Paradise ... 11:15 or so ... there was a fair amount of construction activity evident and lots of cars/people in the parking lot. I had a sandwich & soda from the cafe at the lodge, then headed down. For some reason going downhill is so fun! I did stop at take some more pictures though.

There was more climbing that I had expected between Paradise and 123. I had naively expected/hoped it would be pretty much all downhill. A lot was, but not as much as I wanted. There was a lot of construction on 123 up to and just beyond Cayuse Pass ... many places where the road had been torn up for 25-75 yards or so to be repaved. It will be nice when it's done, but was a bit of a pain. Still, I was at the top of Cayuse and headed down before I knew it.

I knew that Joe Llona was riding the Sunrise Permanent and thought that I had a chance of running into him on 410. Sure enough, shortly after Greenwater, he caught up with me and we rode into Enumclaw together. It was nice to see him again ... and thank him again for all those ice socks on the Cascade 1200!

I pulled into Safeway in Enumclaw at about 4:45 ... 11 hours and 20 minutes to do the 151 miles and 9,000 feet of climbing. Much better than I had expected.

And then to Dairy Queen for my Cherry Blizzard!

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