Author: Brent Moody
Puyallup Cyclopath RAMROD (RAMROD = Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day; 152 miles, 9200 feet of elevation gain) consisted of Mike Hassur's and Brent Moody’s second RAMROD this month and the first this month for Les Becker.Weather was great, about 50 degrees to start, much warmer than what it was 2 weeks ago when it was in the low 40s to start. Just the 3 of us to start, as we would meet up with Mark Delrosario close to the Nisqually Entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park in Ashford. The morning almost started out like 2 weeks before – with possible problems. Brent had a slightly loose hub on his rear wheel. Couldn’t fix it as his tool kit wrenches were a bit small. So.. decided ok, take it easy (think Brent forgot that on our first big descent – Stevens Canyon) - and off we went!
The next stretch was our first climb out of Eatonville headed towards Alder Lake and Elbe. This is an enjoyable climb and with an added bonus of sniffing salt…aka, cow manure smell from the farms. It was rather strong that morning and we wondered if they were trying to grow new roads or pavement. We quickly made it to the Alder Lake turnoff and took a few pictures alongside the lake. Beautiful morning out, fog was rolling off the lake as it heated up the top. Elbe was just around the corner. The Mt. Rainier Scenic railroad starts from this little town. Great little restaurant with outdoor seating and train caboose lodging there if you ever can check it out. Santa’s train runs in December too.
Next town was Ashford, where we were hoping to meet up with Mark. His plan was to park where we traditionally park for Skate Creek Loop, ride back to meet us, and then ride to Paradise on Mt. Rainier before turning around. We caught up with Mark a few miles outside of Ashford, so right on track! We had our first stop at Marks car (about mile 45). He was so thoughtful and brought out water refills and plenty of food (we were really wishing that we had “Mark’s oasis” at mile 100 – we really could have used it at that point).
We didn’t stay long on break and quickly took off after we saw another group of 4 cyclist ride by. Next stop was at entrance of Mt. Rainier and the climb up to Paradise. This is one of the most beautiful climbs that any cyclist will encounter. Winding roads, surrounded by huge, old-growth evergreen trees, with periodic “peak a boo” views of Mt. Rainier and the Nisqually River that runs alongside the road. Once you’re out of Longmire, the views of Mt. Rainier become more magnificent (and the road gets steeper).
Mike, Les, and myself (Brent) were feeling pretty good when we got to Reflection Lake. We put on our parkas, just kidding, for the long winding road down to the back entrance of Mt. Rainier, the Stevens Canyon Entrance. Mike got what should be some pretty good videos on the GO PRO as we raced down the Stevens Canyon Road! One of these times we will actually get him in a video!!
We stopped at the “Grove of the Patriarchs” parking area where we hit the bathroom and filled up on water as this was the last water stop until Greenwater, which was about 35 miles. We were all shaking a little knowing what lay in store for us ahead… the climb up Cayuse Pass (a 10 mile, unrelenting grade). After 80 miles, this climb can get to you physically and mentally. It took us a little over an hour to get to the top, but it was well worth it. The last 2 miles are great views of the canyon below. We took a short break at the top which is the intersection of Hwys 410 and 123. If you take a right, you head to Yakima over Chinook Pass. We took the road to the left toward Greenwater. At the base of the Cayuse climb, all three of us were joking about taking a joy ride to the top. At the top, we decided that taking a few Advil was probably more appropriate.
The next 18 or so miles to Greenwater was all downhill (thank God)! This went pretty quickly, as we were thinking about the food and water that was waiting for us! We took a little break with some Cola, and donuts that tasted as if they were four years old.
We had a headwind on the way to Greenwater and this continued to the Mud Mountain Dam turnoff. We rode in a pace line and traded off about every mile - taking turns pulling and taking the punishment of the headwind. Before we knew it, we were at Mud Mountain Dam cutoff road - only about 20 miles to home. It felt like over the bridge and thru the woods, to Grandma’s house we go… Orting at last, never felt so good.What an enjoyable trip with lots of memories. Everyone had a strong day, no injuries, and we all returned safely! Can’t wait til the next adventure out on the road with the Cyclopaths.
YouTube video of Stevens' Canyon descent (awesome scenery): http://youtu.be/ge8Nuvemq30
To view all of the photos from this ride, click on the following: https://picasaweb.google.com/103821724300588557330/2013_07_27PuyallupCyclopathsRAMROD#slideshow/5905747003437307666