Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cayuse Pass (Early Season "snow ride")

Cyclopath Ride: Cayuse Pass (Early Season "snow ride")
Author of this post: Make Hassur

5:00 AM:  It was supposed to be a low to 46 degrees today – NOT!!  It was 38 degrees, and that was in Puyallup (we hadn’t even hit the mountains yet).  John Winter arrived at 5:15 AM, we loaded the bikes in my van and got on the road.  We arrived at our destination (the Crystal Mountain turnoff from Hwy 410) at 6:15 AM.  Leon’s car was already there, but Leon was nowhere in sight (he got there early to do some extra climbing before we arrived).  Pretty soon Les rolled in, and then Mark and Dan. 

We were heading toward Cayuse Pass on our bikes by 6:40 AM.  We ran into Leon about 3 miles into the climb.  He had already done 4000’ of climbing!  It was pretty cold, but the sky was clear and Mt Rainier looked amazing (as usual).  The climb to Cayuse Pass went by quickly, and we stayed warm because Les was pushing the pace (damn you Strava) which made it feel like the third time up instead of the first.

It was sunny at the top and felt pretty good temperature-wise; but, as soon as we started down the other side of Cayuse at 20-30 mph – IT WAS COLD!  Not so cold that it was completely unenjoyable, but cold enough that Les’ water bottle became brittle and broke open when he squeezed it (picture Les going down the road at 20-25 mph and holding a water bottle that is hemorrhaging Gatorade through a big crack in its side – the look on his face was like “I can’t believe what just happened”).  A couple of miles from the top, you pass through a short tunnel on this descent.  It’s always spooky because your glasses are dark and you can’t see the surface of the road in the tunnel.  We always slow down, and no one has hit any debri in the tunnel so far, but …   By the time we reached the bottom of the descent our faces were frozen and felt like they might have achieved the same level of brittleness as Les’ water bottle.  We were ready to turn around and start climbing back up Cayuse so that we could generate some warmth.

As we climbed the south side of Cayuse, it didn’t take long before we were ready to start unzipping/taking off our jackets.  The climb went smoothly with lots of conversation.  Mark and Dan had started climbing before the rest of us, and we didn’t see them until we reached the top.  Once again, at the top of Cayuse, the temperature felt comfortable.  Some of us even toyed with the idea of not zipping up our jackets on the descent down the north side toward Crystal Mountain.  That would have been a mistake.  Almost as soon as we started to descent, the cold became evident made more noticeable by the sweat that we’d generated coming up the south side of the Pass. 

We descended 3-4 miles to the turn off to Sunrise.  We, then, turned and went back up Cayuse one final time.  This ascent was short and quick.  We were back at the top by 10:15 AM.

John Winter and I headed back down to the cars (time constraints) and were soon followed by Les, Mark, and Dan.  Leon stayed to get in a little more climbing (Leon’s never met a mountain pass that he doesn’t like to beat into complete submission).

Not as much snow as last year (maybe 7-10 feet in places near the top of Cayuse), but everyone seemed to agree that we love our Cayuse Pass early season “snow ride”. 

Looking forward to next week’s Alder Lake Loop Ride.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Carbon River Entrance to Mt. Rainier

Cyclopath Ride: Carbon River Entrance to Mt. Rainier
Author of this post: Make Hassur

What a great ride!!  I met Leon in front of my house in Puyallup at 5:55 AM, and we headed out toward Orting.  It was chilly (40 degrees), and we could certainly feel the cold as we raced down Shaw Road at 35-40 mph.  On the way to Orting, we saw a Cyclopath jersey heading toward us on the trail.  It was Tom Peterson on his new carbon fiber Fuji bike (what a nice looking bike).  He’d arrived early in Orting and decided to ride out to meet us.  The three of us rode into Orting to find Les, Kurt, Dan, and Mark waiting for us in front of the bike shop. 

It was still pretty chilly as we headed out of Orting at 6:45 AM.  On the way to South Prairie, Kurt Maute said he just wasn’t feeling right.  He turned around and headed back to Orting which was disappointing for the rest of us.  We headed over to South Prairie and up Tubbs Road Hill (the steep hill just south of South Prairie).  If any of us were cold at the bottom of this climb, we weren’t by the time we reached the top!  As usual, Leon tried to kill us on the climb (speaking only for myself, I would say that he was successful). 

By the time we arrived in Wilkeson, it had warmed up enough that we were all taking off our jackets and stowing them. Just outside of Wilkeson, the climb to Carbonado begins.  This climb is one of the “competitive climbs (segments)” listed on, so those of us with Garmin bike computers (which is almost all of us) were psyched to attack that climb to see how we could do.  I worked really hard on the way up.  At the end of the climb, my assessment (fogged a bit by oxygen deprivation) was that none of the other guys looked nearly as tired as I felt.

After Carbonado, we wound our way up to the Fairfax Bridge and headed on up toward Mt Rainier’s Carbon River Entrance.  By this time, it was warm enough that I really didn’t need to wear gloves (though I kept some light ones on for protection).

We zoomed on up to the Carbon River Entrance, made a pit stop, and headed back.  Tom and Leon left just before the rest of us.  I knew that Tom had a tennis tournament going on at the club and that he was anxious to get back into cell phone range to make certain all was going well.  As the rest of us headed back, we noticed that Tom and Leon were already out of sight.  We just figured that Tom was hammering to get back into cell range and that Leon just couldn’t resist a good hammering.  We set off in pursuit, figuring that we would see them soon.  The further we went without seeing them, the faster we went.  I was sure that they would wait for us at the Fairfax Bridge above Carbonado, but when we got there – no Leon and Tom (“Boy, they must really be in a hurry”?!).

We got in a pace line and raced past Carbonado and down the hill into Wilkeson – still no Leon and Tom (“Good grief – did they get a ride back to Orting”?!).  As we were riding through Wilkeson, a guy on a nice looking Honda motorcycle pulled up next to us and started talking to us.  Unfortunately, he had on a big helmet that covered his mouth; and we couldn’t understand a word that he was saying.  He didn’t seem angry, so I just smiled and gave him a “thumbs up” sign.  The motorcyclist then proceeded to pull off the road about 100 yards ahead of us and take off his leather jacket.  He was wearing a Cyclopath jersey!!  It was Kurt Maute.  He had been so disappointed that he couldn’t do the ride with us that he drove home, got his motorcycle, and came out to find us.  How cool is that? 

After a quick visit with Kurt, we headed toward South Prairie and Orting. 

When we arrived in Orting, we saw Tom’s truck still sitting where he had parked it that morning.  We just couldn’t figure out where Tom and Leon were.  As it turned out, Leon and Tom and had ridden less than a quarter of a mile from the Carbon River Entrance when they turned onto a side road and proceeded 100 yards or so to a bridge where we often stop to take a group picture.  When we went by the bridge, we didn’t see them; and we assumed that they were ahead of us.  Tom and Leon didn’t see us either, so they wasted a lot of time looking for us on their way back to Orting.  It was a real Keystone Kops routine.   

Considering that the first three or four of our rides last summer got rained out (or rained on), this ride was a resounding success.  The weather turned out to be very pleasant, the scenery was wonderful (as usual), the company was ideal, and the riding was exciting.  Can’t wait for the Alder Lake Loop Ride in two weeks.