Monday, June 19, 2017

Skate Creek Loop 2017 -- by Dwaine

Seven Cyclopaths arrived for the 2017 Skate Creek Loop event in the following order: Leon, Adam, David, Les, Dwaine, Rob, Rex. Mike was not in attendance. The Cyclopath administration offered no official reason but I did hear whispers in the wind that indicated beer or beer making was at the heart of his absence. Leon stepped up and took charge for the day.

The cool air and Leon's gentle reminder motivated us to get pedaling in short order.

A quartet of Cyclopaths flying in formation early in the day.

The gradual gradient leaving Ashford and entering the park was a good fit for getting chilly riders warmed up. The road was still wet but there was only light traffic and we rode at a comfortable and sociable pace. Multiple conversations were in full swing. Adam shared what he had learned regarding current gravel/cross bike offerings. Later Rex and I discussed some of his wheel building experiences. The Cyclopaths seem to maintain a good balance of performance pedaling and social camaraderie and I especially appreciated this balance after my early training season.

Posing in front of the inn at Longmire. No need for hot chocolate, fresh socks, or a warm fire.

After a short stop at Longmire the ride resumed at an increased pace. Conversations continued but we were now into a more scenic and challenging portion of the climb. This section of this long climb is still one of my favorites and it did not disappoint. At one point, as Mount Rainier became visible, I shouted to the group "We'll forget the suffer but remember that view!".

This image shows demonstrates how quickly playing paparazzi can get you dropped. But I wanted to take a step back and let my camera absorb more of the road and trees. These twists and turns are some of my favorites.

As we passed Steven's Canyon Road the group chose to separate a bit. Before long I was following just Leon and Adam. The air was feeling cooler and we were seeing more snow. Adam commented that the air felt thin. I responded that Leon's pace was making my lungs work a lot harder. Leon ignored us and kept cranking the pedals and later claimed that he wanted to test his fitness. He certainly tested mine.

Adam is looking strong here and the blue skies gave us all an little extra to smile about.

After regrouping at Paradise we discussed the idea of descending through Paradise Valley. A barricade read 'Road Closed' but the pavement was bare as far down as was visible. Les cautioned us against the idea. Later we thanked him as we passed the Paradise Valley Road East outlet. Many feet of snow still covered the bottom reaches of the road.

How many times have I asked the Cyclopaths to pose with Mount Rainier in the background? Too many! This day Adam's Giant Defy anchored the shot.

A group photo was planned at Reflection Lake. Neither the mountain, hidden in clouds, nor the reflection, buried in snow, was willing to cooperate.

As Stevens Canyon Road turned down hill the air began feeling warmer and the sun broke through. As we passed Stevens Creek we experienced a number of temporary waterfalls. Water cascaded off the high rock walls and down to the road surface. On a hot climb up in July or August we would have surely cooled ourselves in the water. But this day we enjoyed only their beauty.

The remainder of the descent was uneventful. Just what we hoped for.

Reflection Lake with no reflection. The sky was full of clouds and the lake covered in snow. This photo represents all riders except myself who was twiddling the camera knobs. My silver bicycle 'Huckleberry' stood in for me. This image also gives hints of the not too summery temperatures.

As the air continued to warm we started on the short section of Highway 123. We rode conservatively and enjoyed the marvelous scenery. At least until the Highway 12 junction.

The pace quickened, leaders changed, I followed wheels, and pretty soon just David and myself had a gap on the rest of the riders. David pulled me most of the way to Packwood. Thank you David. It wasn't until the last mile or so that I noticed a rider coming up from behind. Adam had closed the gap and brought Les with him. It was a strong show of power from Adam and we silently hoped it had taken some of his edge off.

As we provisioned in Packwood the sun continued to smile on us. I was able to remove my extra layers. Leon cheerfully and efficiently repaired a front flat. Rob shared some cold water for topping off bottles. And we generally enjoyed the warmth, company, and the choice of messages on patron's t-shirts as they drifted in and out of the convenience store.

I like to bring home the detail shots. Mechanical issues often attract the attention of my camera. Although just a flat front tire, I asked Leon for a smile as he quickly swapped tubes.

As we embarked on the road for which the day's ride was named the discussion of the upcoming climb was broached. Adam seemed unaware that, on occasion, the pace has seemed to elevate on this final climb. I characterized this increase in pace as 'A gunfight' and advised that I, for one, had only brought a blade. At first the pace quickened within reason. Eventually Adam went off the front.

As many Cyclopaths recall this climb is never too steep and the grade tapers. Leon watched Adam ride away and then quickly organized the four nearest riders into a team. "One minute pulls" he cheered. I guessed that Leon was planning that our group of four would loose time on the bottom half of the climb but then share the work enough to make up the difference on the top half of the climb. David, Les, and myself bought into the plan and went to work.

Over time Leon's group dwindled to just Leon and myself. One minute off the front was not enough for me to keep my battery up. Eventually I told Leon I couldn't pull and he seemed to have no problem towing me the remainder of the distance up and over the top.

As fine a plan as it was, we did not catch Adam until Adam wanted to be caught. He turned around to regroup. Nice ride Adam.

At about that same time the sun chose to hide behind the clouds. Cooler temperatures followed us the remaining ten miles as we each chose our own pace to finish the ride. I fought some cramps and Les slowed to shepherd my in. Thanks Les.

As the group trickled in we all seemed to express the same series of emotions. Despair from that final effort, satisfaction of completion, and then gratitude. Gratitude that we can cycle our way up and down the mountains, at speed, with our friends.

During the ride Leon asked me to be this rides photo journalist and I happily agreed. It is an honor to ride with this group and I get to relive the day while I create this document. I am also afforded a venue to share my gratitude with Leon for leading us. Both as the ride organizer and as the pace maker. Thanks Leon.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Vicious Cycles Leavenworth Gran Fondo -- by Dwaine

Author:  Dwaine Trummert

With impressive views, a 50/50 paved to gravel split, an intimidating elevation profile, and over 80 miles, Gran Fondo Leavenworth certainly meets the criteria of a 'kinda serious' cycling event.

On May 21, 2017 I arrived in Peshashtin on time, well trained, and with the weather looking beautiful. The mountains were in full view in all directions. I wondered if they understood the challenge they would create for myself and about 200 others.

This ride was to be the first serious challenge for my recently acquired Waterford that I named 'Huckleberry'. Due to the forecast gravel road roughness I was running a set of 40c tubeless 'Rambler' tires at pressures of 33 front and 43 rear.

Earlier in the week I had learned that, due to snow, one major climb had to be omitted from the original course. This shortened version was to be 80 miles and 7000 feet of climbing. 

We started at 8 a.m. with a four mile neutral rollout. These miles were through a rolling valley with various farms and orchards on each side of the road. The course gradient gradually steepened and by mile six I had chosen my own pace and watched the strong men go up the road.

Mile eight is when we reached the end of the pavement and the start of the real climbing. I stayed with my plan and followed no wheels instead choosing to climb at an efficient pace. The gravel road was smooth, the air was still cool, and I crested without feeling spent.

The gravel continued to be smooth but was interspersed with a few 100 meter sections of snow. Most were rideable with one being taken on the run cyclocross style.

When the gradient turned negative the gravel road was still relatively smooth which allowed for a spirited descent. I paired up with another rider who was clearly an experienced descender and we reached the pavement in good time.

The paved road to the aid station in Entiat was a 1% downward grade. I teamed up with a couple other riders. One of which I'll call 'Rob'. He was locomotive strong. Just a minute into my first turn at the front he lost patience and just motored by. For the rest of this section I worked to hold the wheel in front of me and took embarrassingly short turns at the front. We reached the aid station, roughly halfway through the ride, in short order.

After filling my bottles and pockets I left the aid station with three other riders. Knowing the next ten miles would be paved and level along the Columbia River I wanted to have some 'friends'. We easily fell into a rhythm of avoiding the numerous stones on the shoulder, taking turns at the front, and rehydrating.

As this group settled in I made a quiet observation to myself that 'Rob', described previously, was dangling a couple hundred yards off the front of our group. But I hoped we wouldn't catch him. I knew he was powerful and thought our group was working at a sustainable pace.

Our bubble was burst, however, when the rider in position number two had an instantaneous front tire flat. Both he and the rider in position three showed some excellent bike handling in keeping upright and avoiding a collision. I was fortunate enough to witness the whole show and have enough time and space to stay well clear of it.

After regrouping into a trio we started slowly reeling Rob in. When we caught him the group dynamic changed a bit. When Rob pulled the pace was 23 to 24 mph. The rest of us were only able to pull at 21 to 22mph. Before long we caught and incorporated a rider who had been solo for a while. He was happy to see us.

When our group of five reached Swakane Canyon road the flavor of the route changed completely. Behind us was the 20+ mph paceline efficiency. Ahead lied a rough dirt climb with plenty of embedded stones. The gradient changed constantly fluctuating between nearly flat to 10%. These changes were often in less than 100 yards. And it was hot. The temperature moderation from the cool waters of the rolling Columbia River was no more. I dripped perspiration just minutes into the climb.

I knew from studying the elevation profile that this climb would be long. It started at about 800 feet above see level and ended at about 4000 feet. The inefficiencies of climbing on gravel did not make it any easier.

For the most part I did not set a goal of staying with any other rider. I set an appropriate level of hurt, labeled it my 'discomfort zone', and then adjusted my effort to stay right in the middle. At one point the grade was steep and long enough that I shifted into low-low. Put another way, my cogset ran out of viable options and my feet pushed on the ground directly.

My position in the group of five ebbed and flowed. But, by throttling my effort early and choosing to walk the toughest section I think came out better than the others.

Halfway to the top I realized I had a problem. With four miles of climbing left until the next aid station I calculated that my water bottles would go dry more than 30 minutes before reaching the next aid station. The road was close enough to a creek that I could hear running water. I contemplated dipping my head into the creek if the road drew near enough. A couple minutes later I rolled up to a tiny stream that crossed the road. From the stream I filled one bottle twice and over my head I drained it twice. The water was startlingly cold. The bottle was filled a third time and I used this mountain water to cool my head and shoulders for the remainder of the climb.

Switching to external cooling might have been my best decision of the day. I reached the aid station and summit tired but without damage.

The final gravel descent was long and not as smooth as the first, my mind was fatigued, and I chose to descend conservatively. By the time I reached the end of the gravel I had passed a couple riders and allowed my battery to recharge a bit.

When I emerged onto the final eight miles of pavement my legs felt OK but I was riding alone. Just a mile or two later and a fast rider quickly closed the gap and I jumped onto his wheel. He was pulling hard. After a couple minutes he signaled for me to take a turn. I first apologized and then told him there was no way I could pull at his pace. I rode his wheel and with about four miles to go he slowed a bit and asked for help. Over those four miles I took just two turns at the front and neither of them lasted more than a couple minutes.
'Huckleberry' did a great job handling the variety of road surfaces.

He was the 21st rider to cross the line and I later thanked him for pulling me to 22nd.
I was pleased with my finish position and time of about 5 hours 30 minutes. For comparison, the first rider to finish took 40 minutes less.

In the past I've looked back at a race and wished I had made different choices. For this event I believe that I made no significant mistakes and rode pretty close to my top potential.

As the image shows I felt good enough about myself, my bike, and my tire choice to pose for a post race photo.

The next and final Vicious Cycles Gran Fondo for my season is Gran Fondo Winthrop in September. GFW is longer, higher, and has more volatile weather. But that event is a ways out. I've been training steadily since January and have been looking forward to a break in intensive training. That break starts today.

Which means I can go ride in the mountains with my friends!

See you all soon.

p.s. I've ventured into the 'social media' realm via Instagram. Photos that don't make it to this blog might show up at

Sunday, May 21, 2017

2017_05_20 Alder Lake Loop Ride

Author:  Nick Iverson

On an overcast morning, having rescheduled this yearly ride based on weather concerns from May 13 to May 20th, seven intrepid cyclists gathered in Orting for the annual “easy ride.”  Rob Critchfield, David Crawford, Leon Matz (this years leader), Kurt Maute, Scott Larson, Scott Wagar and Nick Iverson headed out for apleasant ride.  We headed out Orville Road, toward Eatonville, then up a short climb on WA 161, then right on Ohop Valley Extension Rd., then on to Mountain Hwy to the Eatonville Cutoff, then returned on the same route from Eatonville.  At Camp 1 Road, the group (sans Rob who went back on Hwy 161 with time crunch), divided into two groups.  Leon (Mr. Hill) along with David and Scott W headed up the hill; and Scott L., Nick I, and Kurt M., headed back to Orting with time issues.   Sadly, the God Father of the Cyclopaths, Mike Hassur, was having some neck problems that prohibited riding with us.  At the start, it did not take too long for Rob and David to fail to restrain themselves, and take off ahead of
the group.  We regrouped at the turnoff for Orville Road.  

Before long, part of the group needed a nature break (there is a bathroom on Lake Kapowsin).  Kurt and I had kept our coffee intake down before the ride and knew that we would be struggling to keep up.  We kept riding.  We rode at our own pace and discussed travel, airplane sales, and the weather; but not politics.  Soon the Peloton arrived, and Kurt and I survived until we arrived at the Mountain Hwy.  There the climbers were off, leaving Kurt and me in the dust.  They waited at the Alder Lake Overlook in order to get the obligate photo.

Alder Lake Dam Overlook (photo by Nick Iverson)

Leon gave Kurt some Goo which kicked in after a while, and he survived to return to Orting.  We rode in
a quasi pace line to Camp 1 Rd where the hill climbers continued up the five mile climb (THE CLIMB) at a remarkable pace, then returned to Orting. Leon, not to be outdone, rode to the start from his house, and rode back home to get in his 111.6 mile ride, and climb 5,259 feet.  The sun was beginning to burn through the clouds, at the photo op, making for a perfect day to ride.

The only incident of note was David, riding ahead with Scott W. and about 100 yards ahead of Scott L and meon Orville Rode on the return, suddenly went down.  “What happened?” Scott L asked.  David’s response, after first checking out his bike as a true cyclist:  “I was messing around, and went off the road.”  I am not sure if he was texting while riding, as he had his cell phone in his hand, but we decided not to report the incident to the State Patrol.  Next was a
quick check on David’s condition, and he had a little shoulder pain, but seemed not to have suffered any life threatening injuries.  Except for the inability to ride as a group and complete the ride together, it was a perfect day for riding.  Thankfully, we all survived to tell about it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dwaine Visits the GFE -- by Dwaine

Vicious Cycles promotes a number of Gran Fondo style events in Eastern Washington and I finally experienced the fun. 'Gran Fondo Ephrata' is the first Fondo of the five event series and is described as the 'easy' one. This year's event used a modifed course due to snow. This change lowered the climbing to just 3500 feet but extended the length to 84 miles. About 30 of those miles are on relatively smooth gravel roads. This was my first Vicious Cycles Fondo and I learned a bunch.

At the end of this post I've included a link to a short video that gives a racer's view of the event and the mixed surfaces we encountered.

For this event I brought my commuting/rain/rando Cannondale T700. This 90's aluminum touring bike has aluminum fenders, a front rack, and an eight speed downtube shifted drive train. It rolls on 35mm Pasela road tires with tubes and latex sealant. This tire setup is heavy and probably costs a bit in rolling resistance but has proven reliable and gravel worthy. Although not modern this bike has served me well and is well tested. It also stood out in a sea of modern Carbon bikes.

Ephrata was forecast for temps from 30 to 50 degress and overcast skies. The four mile neutral roll out did not help me warm up much. But I was thankful as the first couple miles were narrow with an irrigation ditch waiting for any rider who strayed off the two track path.

As soon as we were released the pace quickened yet I was able to stay in touch with the lead group. This 16 mile section was paved, flat, and featured a headwind. Perfect conditions to 'sit in' the protection of the group.

At mile 20 we started up the Overen Road reroute. This dirt road climb quickly strung the group out and I chose to ascend at a safe and steady pace. At the top of the 700 foot climb I burnt a match to close the 50 foot gap to the next rider. But it was for naught. I encountered no riders interested in descending Overen at Cyclocross pace.

When I hit the Baird Springs Rd junction I joined two other riders. I knew this road was a slight descent but did not realize it was unpaved. We worked together at a pretty hot pace. The pace was faster than I preferred and the loose gravel kept it interesting. The other two riders seemed keen on bridging to a group up the road. We caught the group of five at the tunnel and I hid in the back for the next few miles in an attempt to regain my strength.

Sitting in was a good plan executed too late. At the 30 mile mark we encountered a small climb on Stuhlmiller Rd. We could see what I believe was the lead group cresting the climb. But my legs were already hurting. After the Stulmiller climb we eventually regrouped but I was now clearly in a group that wanted a faster pace than I did. Yet I chose to stay in the group for the next ten miles until we reached the aid station at mile 42.

Instead of stopping at the aid station I leveraged my onboard resources. I brought enough food and water for the entire ride.

Just as I passed the aid station a small group exitted. Yeah! One of the riders indicated he needed to make a rolling water closet stop and I followed suit.

We then started working on closing the 100 yard gap and my body said 'No, uh-uh, sorry'. I yelled to the other rider 'I'm out' and sat up.

At this point I pondered my situation. I knew that the next 18 miles were up the nearly flat Palisades Rd. which often includes a head wind. I had been warned that this is the point in which a rider most wants to be sharing the work. Yet I was alone, tired, and watching the group ahead quickly shrink in the distance. So I slowed substantially and started consuming the food and water I had carried for the previous two hours. At my slow pace I knew my strength would return.

When the first group came to me I joined but was spit out the back with a minute or two. They were too fast for my tired body.

The experience with the second group to come by was similar except that I gave up more quickly.

The third group to come by was moving faster than I wanted but I managed to barely hang with them. I had a good suffer going but was at least moving faster than if alone. It was at this time that another rider in the group noticed my rear tire riding a little low. I chose to hope for the best and to keep pedalling until I was forced to make a repair.

As we moved up Palisades road the wind subsided a bit. When the road neared the end of this valley the road turned to smooth dirt and was sometimes in the shade of the steep cliffs. I don't know if the dirt slowed the group of the shade refreshed my soul, but I started to regain my composure. Of course, this didn't last long.

At about the 60 mile mark we left the shade of the canyon walls and started up the 'Three Devils'. The first is short and quite steep at 15% or so. I chose my lowest gear and entered survival mode. This was the low point of my day.

Dwaine showed off the Cyclopath jersey for GFE. This photo taken as the group is just seconds from starting up the first of the Devils.

Despite the difficulty of the first pitch by the time I summitted the last of the Devils I was in better shape than when I started. With no group to dictate my pace I chose a steady and sustainable pace that allowed me to get back into my comfort zone. I was now about 65 miles into the ride, nursing a cramp, and hanging onto another rider's wheel. He was in about the same shape and also fighting a cramp.

At mile 72 I was passed by three riders wearing Vicious Cycles kits who seemed open to having a fourth. I needed to pick up my pace to hang with them and my legs seemed to second my decision by stepping up to the task.

Over the next few miles of rollers we sometimes rode two by two on the short climbs. I was curious about the club and they shared their knowledge.

The course profile showed a fast descent from mile 75 to 80 with the course progressing to more or less flat for the finish. I offered that my legs were pretty much 'burnt slap up' and that they needn't worry about my sprinting potential. They laughed. Instead of a sprint, they suggested that, at most, I might observe 'only a slight increase in speed' at the finish.

The descent down Sheep Canyon was glorious. These riders knew the road, signaled where there might be gravel washed onto the pavement, and ushered me down in style. At times I was nearly spun out. As the grade lessened at about mile 80 we caught two riders. Caught, as in, closed the gap on. And caught, as in, offered some fast wheels to follow. Which they did.

Over the next four miles I watched as business started to get interesting. After making our final turn the pace started to quicken. The Vicious Cycles folks realized they had one rider who posed no threat. That was me. And two riders who did. I was not jockeying for position but the two other newcomers were. I was working pretty hard to hang on and did see 27 mph on my Garmin. My finish was uneventful. I followed the wheel in front of me while a few in the front scrambled for better position.

As soon as I stepped off the bike I realized my legs were about ready to seize. I walked a couple shaky laps around the parking lot until the muscles were eventually convinced the pedalling was done.

When it was all over I learned I finished 35th out of 200 at an average speed of 17.2 m.p.h. I was quite pleased with this performance.

As I loaded my bike I noticed that the chain was still on the 14 tooth cog from the fast finish. That made me smile. I also inspected the rear tire. It had lost about half of its pressure but the sealant had done its job well enough to keep me rolling to the finish.

Well after the event was over I realized how I might have ridden a better race. My three GFE lessons are listed below.

Packing enough food and water was a great plan. It allowed me to choose to stop at the aid station or not.

Working hard down Baird Springs was not wise. The chase to connect cost some matches. And the pace of the group we caught was a bit fast for me.

Failing to schedule a lower paced 'rest' segment before the aid station was also a poor choice. Looking back it seems reasonable that groups recently rested from the aid station would be running a 'little hot' compared to me given my lack of rest.

Next on my Fondo calendar is the Gran Fondo Leavenworth in May. It features a few more miles of length and one more mile of elevation gain. Giddy Up!

Link to short video of 2017 GFE racer's view:

Link to a five minute 'quad copter' video of this year's GFE:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

2016_08_21 Puyallup Cyclopaths' "Rainiering" Ride - the long version

Author:  Mike Hassur

It usually doesn’t take me this long to create a blog post after a ride – particularly one as noteworthy as last Sunday’s “Rainiering” Ride.  This last week was a busy one (I worked three days even though I am “allegedly” retired, and I began to catch up on some of the work around our house that I have been ignoring all summer).  Anyway, I’ve finally gotten around to writing about one of the most memorable rides that I have ever done.

Sometime last winter, we were talking about “Everesting” (i.e. doing a ride in which you did an amount of climbing that equaled the height of Mt. Everest – 29,029’).  No one (except maybe Leon) was giving it any serious consideration, but it was interesting just to talk about it.  Craig Hill, then, suggested that we should consider doing something more realistic and that had a more local flavor to it.  We would call it “Rainiering”, and the ride would involve 14,411’ of climbing.  Rob Critchfield added to the idea by suggesting that we include every climb on Mt. Rainier in the ride (i.e. Sunrise, Cayuse Pass north and south, Chinook Pass, Backbone Ridge east and west, and both sides of the climb to Paradise).

These ideas always sound exciting and eminently “doable” in the winter.  As summer approached and the reality of what we had proposed started to sink in, I started to give the logistics of the ride some serious thought.  For example, the afternoon traffic could be a significant problem in two places on the ride: the climb to Sunrise and the climb to Paradise from the west side (Nisqually Entrance).  In addition, we found out in the Spring of 2016 that there was significant road work being done between Longmire and Paradise which could impact our ride.  It was with these thoughts in mind that we settled on the following route:

·         Leg #1 (~56 miles):  Grove of the Patriarchs' Parking Lot --> up Cayuse Pass (south side) --> up Chinook Pass --> down Chinook Pass and  Cayuse Pass (north side) to Sunrise turnoff --> up Sunrise and back down --> up Cayuse Pass (north side) --> down Cayuse Pass (south side) and back to our vehicles

·         Leg #2 (~40 miles):  Grove of the Patriarchs' Parking Lot --> up Backbone Ridge (east side) --> down Backbone Ridge (west side) --> up to Reflection Lake and on up to Paradise --> retrace our steps back to the vehicles

·         Leg #3 (~35 miles):  Grove of the Patriarchs' Parking Lot --> up White Pass (all the way or at least until we get to 14,411') --> retrace our path back to the vehicles 

The ideas being that we would get Sunrise out of the way early (when there might be less traffic) and that we would substitute White Pass for the climb from the Nisqually Entrance to Paradise due to the road conditions.  Also, on the last leg of the ride, it was pretty much downhill back to the vehicles if someone “bonked” which would not be the case on the climb up the west side to Paradise.

We had a fairly small group for this ride: Dwaine Trummert, Les Becker, Adam Abrams, and me.  Other people were interested in going, but fate had taken its toll on our group (Leon injured knee, John Winter building a new house, Rob Critchfield recuperating from gall bladder surgery, Aaron Gerry doing an Ironman Triathlon the same weekend as the ride, Connor Collins away at college, Scott Larsen just had a new addition to the family, Mario Rivas had other obligations, Craig Hill (the guy who came up with this idea) recuperating from a bike crash, etc.).  I had no qualms about the guys that we had going on this ride, but I was a little worried none-the-less.  I had already “Rainiered” once at The Climb, but I was alone and able to do it on my own terms.  This time would be different.  I would be part of a group (which I usually love) and that worried me in two ways:

1.       Pace:  these guys were really strong riders.  I didn’t want to hold them back; and, conversely, I didn’t want to have to go at a pace that would jeopardize my main goal which was to finish the ride.
2.       Rest stops: when I “Rainiered” on The Climb, I stopped for 5-10 minutes after every 2,000’ of climbing (about every 1 hour and 30 minutes) to rest and eat and drink.  It was very regimented, and it seemed to work well for me.  I was concerned that on this ride people may not want to stop on a regular basis to rest, etc.

Originally, the ride was scheduled for Saturday, August 20th.  As that date drew near, it was clear that the weather was going to be a factor on that day:  a high of 95 degrees was predicted.  The following day, Sunday; on the other hand, had a predicted high of about 80 degrees.  The ride was going to be tough enough without having to deal with extreme heat.  I emailed the guys who were going on the ride a few days beforehand and asked if they might be willing to do the ride on Sunday rather than Saturday.  To my great relief, everyone agreed that Sunday would be just fine – whew!!

Sunday came, everyone arrived on time, and we were heading out of the Grove of the Patriarchs’ parking lot at 6:40 AM.  The morning was cool (we were all wearing long sleeves), and the ride up the south side of Cayuse Pass went smoothly.  We made a decision at the top of Cayuse to head to the climb to Sunrise, do it, and then do Chinook Pass on our way back.  The idea being to minimize our exposure to traffic on the climb to Sunrise. 

We headed down the north side of Cayuse Pass, took the turnoff to the Sunrise Climb, made our way past the Ranger Station, and found – THAT WE HAD NOT BEATEN THE TRAFFIC!!  Every trailhead parking lot was full, and a ton of vehicles were heading up to Sunrise – drat!!  We made our way up to the Sunrise Visitor Center – Les and Adam visiting their way up the climb ahead, and Dwaine and I enjoying a more leisurely pace behind them.  I would tell Dwaine to go ahead at his own pace and that I would just proceed at my pace.  His reply was always “I find this pace more efficient and more to my liking”.  Here is my interpretation of Dwaine’s response:  he was being a good guy and a putting someone else’s feelings (mine) ahead of his own.  He could have easily ridden at a faster pace with Les and Adam, but he didn’t want to leave me behind.  He did this on every climb of the day, and he has done it other times as well (last year’s Vancouver to Whistler race and last year’s Hurricane Ridge climb - just to name a couple).  It was very thoughtful of Dwaine, and our conversations certainly made the many climbs of this day more enjoyable for me.

Mike and Adam:  Sunrise Lookout Point

After making our way up the Sunrise Climb, it was a fun descent (Adam’s first time down Sunrise).  We stopped when we returned to Hwy 410.  I had stashed some extra bottles of PowerAde for myself and Adam at this junction (Dwaine and Les had stashed extra bottles a little further up the road).  I drank plenty of PowerAde, ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich, and we were off.

We made our way up the north side of Cayuse Pass and on up to Chinook Pass.  It went pretty smoothly, but I was still worried about issues #1 and #2 above.  From there, it was downhill all the way back to our vehicles where we got rid of our long sleeved shirts, refilled our water bottles, ate, drank, and rested a bit.

Next up were the climbs to Backbone Ridge and on up to Paradise.  We made our way up the east side of Backbone Ridge smoothly and uneventfully.  It was during this climb that I made a decision.  Instead of heading up White Pass at the end of our ride, I would go back up Backbone Ridge.  My reasoning was that White Pass would be in full sun later in the afternoon and prone to significant traffic, while the east side of Backbone Ridge would be in the shade and have less traffic as less people would be heading INTO the park at that time of the day.

After Backbone Ridge, we headed up through Stevens’ Canyon to Reflection Lake.  This climb can be very hot and grueling at midday.  In our case (since we had chosen a cooler day), it was warm but not bad.  Once again, Les and Adam were ahead with Dwaine and me trailing.  We regrouped at Reflection Lake.  Our stop there was a nice one which gave me a chance to drink plenty and to devour another peanut butter and honey sandwich.

From there, we headed up toward Paradise.  About 2-3 miles below Paradise, the traffic from the west side entrance (Nisqually) merges with the traffic from the east side entrance (Grove of the Patriarchs).  It was from this point on up to Paradise that we realized that our decision not to include the climb from the western (Nisqually) entrance was a good one.  THERE WAS A LOT OF TRAFFIC, AND MOST OF IT WAS FROM THE NISQUALLY ENTRANCE!!. 

Les, Mike, and Adam at Paradise
We made it to Paradise where we stopped, refilled water bottles, ate, and rested for a few minutes.  From there, it was all downhill to the base of the west side of Backbone Ridge.  We had tailwinds on the descent through Steven’s Canyon.  This descent is fast enough as it is.  The tail winds made it a little unnerving – at least for me.  After arriving at the western base of Backbone Ridge, we made our way up uneventfully and down the east side to our vehicles where we restocked.  It was at this juncture that I told Les and Adam that I was going back up Backbone Ridge rather than heading up White Pass (I had already discussed this with Dwaine earlier as we headed toward Paradise).  To my surprise, Les and Adam were fine with heading back up Backbone Ridge. 

We headed back up the east side of Backbone Ridge; and, as I had hoped, it was shady and cool and had minimal traffic.  We reached the top and headed down the west side.  When we reached the bottom of the descent, we turned around and headed back up.  When we - once again - reached the top of Backbone Ridge, we were still approximately 500’ short of our goal; so we decided to descend the west side of Backbone Ridge one more time and to head back up.  

This time, when we got back up to Backbone Ridge, we had achieved our goal of 14,411’ of climbing.  We celebrated by taking pictures of our Garmin computers which showed the mileage and elevation gain to that point and taking pictures of our group.

14,411 feet of climbing...

From there it was all downhill to our vehicles.  At ride’s end, we had covered 130 miles and done just under 14,500 feet of climbing!! 

This was an epic ride.  I really appreciated the opportunity to do it and the guys with whom I did it.  Les, Dwaine, and Adam could have done this ride faster if they wanted.  They chose not to so that we could all finish together.  I would like to thank them for a great ride and a wonderful memory.

To see all the photos associated with this ride, click on the following link:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dwaine's Picture Post for Rainiering on Rainier

Climbing Cayuse from the North during Ramrod is a memorable experience. Most of the Cyclopaths have this section of pavement burnt into their long term memory. But climbing it before eight a.m. on an August morning made the climb seem almost foreign. The temperature was cool. Our legs did not yet ache. The shadows stretched out long before us as the sun rose over the horizon. Cayuse really did show us a friendly face on this first leg of our trip.
In another attempt at cleverness, the author intended to memorialize each ascent with a photo showing the numerical order of the climb. As we reached the top of Cayuse the group sans photographer showed the camera a single digit indicating that Cayuse, the first of many, had been summited. The original intent was a photo at the top of each climb or pass. Not till later did we realize that the counting, not the climbing, would provide the bigger challenge.
Sunrise is always a treat. We saw more traffic than usual but this climb was as beautiful as ever. The sign welcoming us to the Sunrise visitor's center (elevation 6400 feet) was a great prop for our second summit photo. We just needed to be careful not to step in the mud.
This was Adam's first bicycle trip up and down the road to Sunrise. After we completed the descent and returned to the flatter part of the road we had a great talk about the steep and bendy parts of the descent. Les and I talked about memorizing the various twists and turns. Everyone agreed the descent is pretty darn fun whether it was a riders first or twenty-first time down.

The short trip from the top of Cayuse to the top of Chinook is probably the author's favorite bit or pavement. The roadway and rock walls have an old-timey feel to them.  The cars are generally moving pretty slow. There is a decent shoulder. The views are stunning. And the wooden footbridge over the road at the summit reminds riders of a mountain top finish in a grand tour. It made sense for another group photo showing our numerical progress but there was some disagreement. Apparently Les and Mike have a long running fued over which climbs count as passes and which climbs don't. Adam and I learned pretty quickly not to bring up the subject.

Right after photo number four was taken the author felt a change in shoe fit. Apparently as I remounted a screw let go on my right shoe and the tensioning buckle, still attached to the plastic strap, became free to move about on each pedal stroke. To my luck and amazement the buckle tensioner mechanism held the screw captive. At our next stop I over tensioned the remaining straps, removed the buckle and screw, deposited them in my pocket, and made a mental note to make a repair when we returned to the cars. I hoped this easily fixed buckle detachment filled our quota of mechanical issues for the day.

At some point we talked about how often and how long to stop for rest. The group did not always agree. Until we reached the two thirds point of our day. Adam took in the beauty of Reflection Lake. Les took some photos. The author laid flat and nearly napped on the warm rock wall. Mike had a mini picnic. He was wise enough to bring something more than just energy bars. We were a little envious as he enjoyed his peanut butter and honey sandwich.

Les smiles as he shows us proof that we reached our 'Rainiering' goal of 14,410 feet. Well, if we were content with the 1956 U.S. Geological Survey height. We weren't. The rest of the group was aiming for the new official GPS derived height of 14,411 feet.

The Cyclopaths 2016 'Rainiering' ride climbing came to an end at the top of backbone ridge. This worked out well as it was an easy descent back to the cars and a pretty good place for a celebratory photograph. A stick was jammed against a steel bicycle to become a tripod and we smiled as the camera's self timer did it's thing. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. This photo is worth over 14k feet.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dwaine's Picture Post for Haller Pass Recon

This mission of this ride was to make sure that the Haller Pass route was still suitable for Cyclopath endorsement. During this scouting ride navigation played a role in our ride. Although we never met the technical definition of lost, we did have some directional confusion. The good news is that our senses of direction seemed to know when another stop to study the map was called for.

We took a short detour off our planned route to explore a narrow road that followed the top of a ridge. (Author note: I need to thank Mike for humoring me on this detour. The road was steep and challenging and not appropriate for a group ride. But I was curious to get a first person view of where it went.) As the climbing slackened a bit we came around a corner and were greeted by a puppy! And a few people camping. And then by this spectacular view. These folks might have chosen the most scenic campsite I have ever seen. We took a few photos but, as friendly as he was, the puppy would not join Mike for a photo in front of the mountain.

No caption needed.

Haller pass photo. Well, almost. Haller pass was once open enough for a decent view of the mountain. But trees now obscure the view for the most part. So we followed a narrow road out to a natural viewpoint. We visited with a few locals, turned down there generous offer of beer, and figured out how to use my Cannondale as a tripod for this photo.
The majority of the miles after Haller Pass were descending on the more heavily traveled portion of Forest Service road 75. With the additional vehicular traffic comes the stutter bumps. We stopped a few times just to let our forearms rest. At this rest point the view isn't as awe inspiring as Mount Rainier yet the author still felt moved enough to strike this dramatic pose.

After about five hours and 35 miles we returned to Mike's van. We had a fantastic day scouting out this Haller Pass route. We also had a terrific time chatting and taking in the spectacular scenery. After riding this route I can understand why Mike has elevated it to the Cyclopath calendar.