Monday, May 26, 2014

Alder Lake Loop (with "The Climb" added) Ride: The view from the Peloton……..

Author:  Mark Delrosario

On the morning of Saturday May 24th a merry bunch of Cyclopaths and our friends embarked on our annual Alder Lake Loop ride.  The group started out 20 cyclists strong enjoying good company, perfect springtime weather and dry roads under our wheels.  We were 2-3 bikes wide stretching 20-30 yards in length giving the feel of riding in a peloton.  It took cars a little longer to pass.  By the way, this is the largest group that I have encountered in my 3 years riding with the Cyclopaths.
Heading out past the old mill just south of Orting
Our starting pace from Orting via Orville Road to the Kapowsin Highway intersection was a steady rollout.  After the little hump to the intersection, we turned left and the pace increased slightly as the profile of the road changed to undulating terrain.  Luckily for the rest of us Rob dropped his coat and had to turn around for it.  For those of you who have not had the good fortune to ride with Rob, Rob has the powerful ability to pull the entire group at crazy speeds.  We all know Conor is
Martin, Scott, and Conor leading the "pelaton"
straight up fast but many do not know that Les is a silent assassin on the bike.  If the three of them and one of our friends started to pull away, to be honest we might not have seen them again until the end of the ride.

After the customary stop at the boat launch, we hit Highway 161 (Meridian) up to the right hand turn onto Ohop Valley Road.  We traversed this quiet country road thru the serene Ohop Valley and past Pioneer Farm.  Along the way, we might have encountered a possible moonshine deal as two trucks hogged the road and forced us to pass single file between them.  I recall some talk that they might have been Scott’s distant relatives.  Jack I and Jack II if memory serves me right. 

The majority of the group was still together but starting to string out as we turned left onto Highway 7 (Mountain Highway).  On Highway 7 the profile of the road starts as an incline up to the Eatonville Highway T, then a small fast descent and right hand bend before turning towards La Grande where the real climbing of the ride begins.  From there it is a 3-4 mile stretch to the lookout point with a view of the La Grande Reservoir Dam.  There happen to be several Strava segments in this section.  I see that many of us either set personal records or had some of our strongest times.  Congrats on the strong riding everyone.  I used to worry that the fast GC guys would be waiting at the top for a long time.  Riding with the Cyclopaths I have come to realize the quality of the group makes you stronger and whether you like or dislike climbing you are forced to embrace it and improve.  17 of us survived the ride to this point and we took our traditional mid-ride picture.
Viewpoint:  Alder Lake Dam
From the lookout point there is a descent to the left hand turn onto Alder Lake Cutoff Road.  The peloton split up after the immediate rise and before I knew it the GC guys took off in a paceline on the rolling terrain.  I was caught in no man’s land for a short while before Erik came charging from behind with his comrade.  Erik was a monster and pulled us at 26mph for a long stretch to Eatonville, where the GC guys were waiting, Rob had rejoined the group and where the rest of us chasers reformed the peloton.

The unity was only to last so long on the return trip on Orville Road as the paceline eventually dropped those of us not able to hold the wheel.  Mind you I am not fond of Orville Road because of the chip seal.  Before we knew it we were back at the Orville Road – Kapowsin Highway intersection for a stop and regroup.  Orange Shoes (Dr. Nick) and I started off early towards ‘The Climb’ up Camp One Road.  Speaking for myself if I
"Pee break" at the base of The Climb
waited mentally I would not have stayed motivated.  Best to start before you think about the choice of going up the 5 mile Category 3 climb after 50 miles and tired legs.  We hit the base and progressed upwards with a steady manageable pace where we could talk and not go into the red.  In our absence, we missed partaking in the candid camera picture of the group's nature break.  Our camera man always seems to sneak in one of those pictures. 

We encountered extra traffic for a Saturday morning.  One in particular, a black truck with rims was too nice to be a utility truck for the logging or gravel company.  We would, eventually,  come across the truck parked at the top.  The driver, Travis, was out to enjoy the nice day and the beautiful view of the valley and lake below.  Later, he would be nice enough to be our camera man and take a picture of the 18 of us still left in the peloton and a selfie of his own. 

Our breakaway survived thru mile 3 when I spotted
"Travis selfie" with Cyclopaths (and view) in backgroun
two Cyclopaths in my mirror.  Knowing we started early, I had to give it a try to hold on to the end.  Les and Rob caught me at mile 4 (aka Leon’s mile).  Les might not get as much notoriety but he is up there in all the rides.  Conor was right behind with a half-eaten bacon maple bar doughnut he stashed away from the bakery in Eatonville.  Watch out because when the sugar kicks in Conor gets a boost of energy.  Next to follow was Andy, Mr. Randonneuring himself, who PRed on the Strava segment.  The week before Andy did a 250 mile ride from Seattle crossing into Canada and back.  That is an incredible feat of endurance.  By the top of ‘The Climb’, I could see Mike and Jim closing in fast.  Jim bought himself a new sleek carbon fiber Cervelo.  The new bike is a stark contrast to his old school purple steel bike with down tube shifters.  I will miss seeing his old ride.  I can imagine that Jim now feels like he is riding a state of the art Ferrari.  Like a mountain top finish, Cyclopaths and our friends trickled up to finish at the top of 'The Climb.'  While the rest of us took a break, Leon and his OCD (Obsessive Climbing Disorder) continued to ride around and gain additional elevation.

A short story about ‘The Climb’ and the beginning of my adventures with the Cyclopaths.  I  started cycling in the beginning of 2011.  It was in December of that year that I was out trying to get base miles in ahead of the upcoming season.  As I humped over the Shaw road overpass I saw two cyclists (Leon and Mike) turn towards the Orting Trail.  It took me until McMillan to catch these guys.  We started talking and they asked if I would be interested in heading out to Kapowsin with them.  Little did I know that they were taking me out to ‘The Climb.’  They shepherded me up like Super Domestiques.  Looking back at Mike’s Strava time we did it in 33 minutes.  The time is not particularly great by any standard but the journey up the hill is indicative of Mike, Leon and the rest of the Cyclopaths.  At times it may feel discouraging to be dropped and be the Lantern Rouge but when you ride with the group be assured a Cyclopath is there to look out for you.  At the end of a ride there are always words of encouragement.  ‘The Climb’ is a special place for us.  It is like the Cyclopath's equivalent version of a pilgrimage to Mecca or Jerusalem.  Mike and Leon paved the foundation for the rest of us to partake in a brotherhood and face challenges together.  When I ride with our jersey I feel a great power from wearing our Orange and Yellow colors.

Getting back to the ride, we hammered the descent and began forming pacelines to head back to Orting.  I recall seeing Scott flying down a parallel road to join the fastest four or five strong riders.  They took off and averaged 27mph from Electron to Highway 162.  Amazing that he could do a 70 mile ride with literally no recent miles under his belt.  The larger paceline that pursued was split by traffic with the lead bunch averaging 25 and the handful of the remainder 24mph.  We tried in vain to bridge the gap.  However, there is something about seeing bright colors up the road and knowing they are a carrot in front of you.  Must be like a Bull seeing the color red.  By Orting we caught the tail end of our original paceline rolling into the parking lot.  By UCI rules we'd received the same time if there is no break in the line of riders as they cross the finish line.  Ha ha, been watching too much world tour on the internet. 

It is official.  Our second ride of the year is in the books.  It was a fun time had by all.  Thank you to everyone that joined us.  You are welcome to our next Cyclopath adventure.
To view this ride's video, do the following:
  1. Click on this link: 
  2. Click on the "gear-like" icon at the lower right hand border of the video screen and select 1080p
  3. Take the video to "full screen" by clicking on the rectangular icon at the lower right corner of the video screen
  4. Turn on your speakers and enjoy
To view the photos associated with this ride, click on the following link:

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