Monday, July 28, 2014

2014_07_27 Skate Creek Loop – Third Time’s A Charm

Author:  Mike Hassur

Saturday, June 14th    “Skate Creek Loop Ride #1”:  terminated at/near Paradise (the name "Paradise" was a real misnomer on that particular day) due to frozen/wet riders.

Tuesday, July 22nd:    “Skate Creek Loop Ride #2”:  terminated before the ride even began – raining at starting point (weather forecast said no rain until PM – whoops).

Sunday, July 27th:      “Skate Creek Loop Ride #3”:  sunny, zero percent chance of precip… let’s have at it!!

This ride was put together sort of at the last minute.  We knew that Brent Moody was going to be in town over this weekend, and we wanted to do a ride with Brent.  We didn’t have a big group, but we had a good one - Conor, Leon, David Crawford, Brent, Mark, and me (Mike).
Brent:  ready to go...
Brent and Mike

We arrived at the starting point just east of Ashford to find sunny early morning skies and cool (low to middle 50’s) temperatures.  Everyone arrived on time, and we were heading toward the Nisqually entrance of Mt Rainier by about 6:10 AM.  We rode briskly and talked.  Before we knew it, we were passing the Ranger Station (no Ranger at that hour) and heading into the Park.  As usual, the winding ride up to Kautz Creek was amazing – ancient trees, fern, etc.  It’s not hard to see why people journey from all over the world to visit the roads on which we ride our bikes.  Our group stayed together as far as Kautz Creek.  By that time, Conor and David could contain their enthusiasm no longer.  They took off and would not be seen again until Paradise.  Brent, Leon, Mark, and I visited our way up the mountain. 
Brent, Leon, and Mt Rainier...
Mark, David, and Conor heading to Reflection Lake...

Brent, Conor, David, & Leon:  Mt Rainier and Reflection Lake...

After visiting the Paradise Lodge, we regrouped at Reflection Lake, took some photos, and headed toward

Steven’s Canyon.  Mark had set off toward Steven’s Canyon before the rest of us – the idea being that we
Looking back up Steven's Canyon -
we came over the middle ridge on our way down...
would catch up on the Backbone Ridge Climb.  After Sunrise, Steven’s Canyon is probably my second favorite place in the Mt Rainier area in terms of grandeur and scenery.  I love the way that the road runs at pretty much a 90 degree angle to the “fall line" of the wall of the canyon (meaning that there are sheer rock faces rising to the left of the road and a BIG cliff on the right side) – pretty awesome stuff.  The road is steep enough that it’s not hard to maintain a speed of 30-35 miles for most of the approximately 10 mile descent to the Box Canyon area.  It is a beautiful, fun descent; but you need to keep your eyes on the road and not the scenery (remember the cliff), and the rough road makes it a chore to get your camera out of your jersey pocket while speeding down the road.  I know – that is not a smart thing to do, but c’mon – you have to get some photos; and, if you stop, your buddies are out of sight by the time you get started again.  Anyway, the descent was its usual awesome self, and everyone made it safely.

Conor, David, and the view from Backbone Ridge...

Next up - the three mile climb to Backbone Ridge.  This is not a steep climb.  It allows you to sort of float up the climb while visiting with the rest of the group.  What is notable about the Backbone Ridge Climb is the view at the top.

After cresting Backbone Ridge, we headed down to the Ranger Station and out of the eastern park
Pace line heading toward Ohanapecosh...
entrance.  We, then, road in a pace line past Ohanapecosh and on over to Packwood with our traditional stop at the Shell Station.  This section was fun as it was mostly downhill and pretty fast.  We didn’t stay at the Packwood stop as long as usual.  It was pretty much “hit the bathroom and leave”.

The final leg of our ride would take us on the 10-11 mile climb up Skate Creek Road with the final 11 miles to the cars being mostly downhill.  As usual, Conor and David were out of sight almost immediately.  It has long been a Puyallup Cyclopath tradition to time trial up the Skate Creek Road Climb.  There is a 9.1 mile Strava Segment up this climb which is all the motivation that we need.  Unfortunately, as the trees next to the road on this route have grown, they have managed to interfere with the signal to our bike computers more and more – to the point where it is now difficult to get Strava to recognize the segment – bummer!!  Undeterred, we headed up as fast as we could go.

At the top of this climb, we regrouped and headed toward the cars.  Conor and David, who had been ahead of us, backtracked and met us a few miles from the cars.  We rode the final few miles together – perfect!!

Well, after three tries, we finally got it right:  no rain, no freezing temperatures, and sunshine.  It was great seeing Brent – can’t wait until you visit again, Brent – and the rest of the guys.
David, Conor, Leon, Brent, and Mike (apologies to Mark who should have been in this photo)...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

2014_07_19 My California Road Trip – Combining a family visit with riding

Author:  James Kressler

Because of a variety of unforeseen events my bike riding boiled down to one big day and one short day.

Arrived at The Creekside Inn – Markleeville (nice motel in a tiny town…I would gladly return) Saturday in a driving rain storm.   I was prepared for cold high speed mountain descending but I didn’t have full-on rain gear so I discarded my Saturday ride plans in favor of reading and wandering around the tiny town. 

Sunday early AM (Cyclopath timeJ)…beautiful sky.  Warm.  Time to GET IT ON!

The “big” ride: Markleeville -> Monitor Pass -> Highway 395 à back up to Markleeville…44 miles
After munching a Clif bar and filling my bottles I left Markleeville and headed towards the Ebbetts Pass/Monitor Pass highway junction.  EZ riding…no air…Alpine County, California sits above 6000 feet and breathing wasn’t EZ. 

The roads in Alpine County are in excellent shape.  No holes.  No glass.  No litter.  Very little traffic.  Like the little motel in Markleeville…I would love to ride in Alpine County again.

Since I was by myself I took my time getting to the top.

The ride from the top down to Highway 395 was 11 miles of super friggin excellent fun!  Again…perfect road conditions and ZERO cars…just me & my bike.  Glorious high speed (had to frequently dab the brakes to keep my MPH below 45) canyon carving.

After a short break at the bottom of the hill (Highway 395) I started back up.  Since I had just sped down the hill I knew I had 11 miles of tough climbing ahead of me.  At the 2 mile mark two bikes heading down the hill zipped past.  My bet was that like me they would reach the bottom and then head back up.  I decided that I was going to use this hunch to spur me towards keeping a high pace all the way to the top.  Only one break…steady tempo…34x28, 34x25, 34x23…don’t get caught…don’t get caught…don’t get caught. 

I didn’t get caught and I made it back to the top far faster than I had expected which was very satisfying.

My second ride was supposed to be Ebbett’s pass.  That didn’t pan out…I will have to go back to Markleeville someday and tackle Ebbett’s.  I did ride to Calaveras Big Trees State Park from where I was staying in Arnold.  Bikes were free (cool), the road was in great shape and was very hilly.  Nine miles in and nine miles out.  Since Highway 4 from Arnold had been a nightmare (1” wide bike “lane”) I chose to pull a Leon and did two loops in the park before packing it in for the day.  I highly recommend cycling on this road.  

A Brief History of Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Calaveras became a State Park in 1931 to preserve the North Grove of giant sequoias. This grove includes the "Discovery Tree", also known as the "Big Stump", the first Sierra redwood noted by Augustus T. Dowd in 1852. This area has been a major tourist attraction ever since, and is considered the longest continuously operated tourist facility in California.

Over the years, other parcels of mixed conifer forests have been added to the park.

First break on the way up was to read this sign
which satisfied my curiosity about the highway name

Second break…snapped a photo of one of the areas beautiful trees

22 miles back to the motel…no carsJ
Stopped on the way up from 395, obsessing about being caught…keep grinding!

Monitor Pass…8314 feet

Saturday, July 19, 2014

2014_07_19 Double Sunrise Ride

Author:  Mike Hassur

Up at 4:00 AM, shower, bike and gear already in the van, meet Leon in front of my house at 4:35 AM, head over to Conor’s house , pick him up and we are headed toward the mountains by 4:50 AM.  That’s how today’s Sunrise Double Ride began for the three of us.  Our drive out to the Crystal Mountain turnoff of highway 410 was filled with conversation (mostly about Conor’s recent participation in a “Medical Leadership Camp” at UC Berkley).  We arrived a little late to find Jim Wilcher waiting for us.  Les and Dwaine arrived shortly after we arrived.  Everyone transferred supplies and clothing into my van, and I drove over to the base of the Sunrise Climb while everyone else rode from the Crystal Mountain turnoff.  Once I arrived at the base of the climb, I got my bike out (my new Calfee Dragonfly!!) pumped up the tires and headed back the way I’d come to meet the guys as they rode toward me.  I got as far as the Ranger Station at the entrance to Sunrise where I met up with the main group, turned around, and headed up with them. 
The mountain was in its full glory...
We arrived at my van and prepared to make our first climb up to Sunrise.  It was warmer than we expected, so most of us were shedding clothing and just carrying a jacket/vest in our jersey pocket to be used for the ride back down.  As we started the climb, Leon asked if we wanted to time trial up.  I’m not sure if anyone else heard him; but I did, and I indicated that I was game (of course, Conor was already out of sight by this time).  Leon and I took off followed by the others.  We worked hard on the way up and were pleased when we reached the final hairpin turn which signals the end of the serious climbing.  We had it made – just a couple more miles of mild climbing.  Unfortunately, we didn’t count on the wind that greeted us just past that last hairpin turn.  Instead of being able to blast that last section with the energy that we had left, we were forced to battle the wind all the way to the finish.  It was frustrating and difficult.  The wind gusts were bad enough that I was a little concerned about staying on the road in the last half mile where it is a gentle downhill, and you can go pretty fast.  No one got blown off of the road, but the wind sucked!!

Jim and Dwaine heading down (just leaving the Sunrise Lodge area)...
We regrouped at the top, put on our jackets/vests, and headed back down.  We hadn’t gone very far when we saw another rider heading the opposite direction.  It was Rob Critchfield.  We waited as Rob turned around, and we all headed down together.  The descent of Sunrise is dangerous, because it is so much fun.  It’s easy to go fast; there are ess curves and hairpins to negotiate, and it’s just a blast.  The problem (at least for me) is that you are having so much fun that it is easy to forget that you are sharing the road with motorists and other cyclists.  I have to constantly remind myself to be careful.  As I followed Dwaine down the lower third of the descent (which is just one curve after another), it was so cool to watch him swooping through those curves.  He just “flowed” through those curves.  Again, I was enjoying watching Dwaine so much that I had to jam on my brakes for a particularly sharp curve as I was going a little too fast and not paying sufficient attention.  I haven’t gotten the GoPro mounted on my new bike yet which is a shame because this descent would have made a great video.

Rob and Conor...
At the bottom (back at my van); we regrouped, shed more clothing, ate and drank, and headed back up – this time at a much more sedate pace.  Conor and Rob were soon out of sight.  The rest of us (Leon, Jim, Les, Dwaine, and myself) were well matched and rode together to the hairpin curve just before the top – where we found Conor and Rob waiting for us.  Leon and Jim stayed at the hairpin turn (actually, Leon went up and down that last section a couple of times) while the rest of us proceeded to the top.  The wind gusts were even worse this time up.  As we made our way through this last section, Conor was leading our pace line.  Is this last section of the climb, there were numerous rocks on the road that were about half the size of a man’s fist.  As we rode along, Conor would lean over (without slowing) and grab a rock right off the road and throw it over into the ditch.  He did it two or three times in a row – pretty impressive!!
Dwaine and Les at the upper hairpin (just below Sunrise)...

At the top, we took a short break and headed back down.  Leon and Jim were waiting at the upper hairpin.  They joined us as we passed, and we headed down once again – thankfully, the descent was uneventful.

When we arrived at my van, there was some discussion about going up again.  In the end, we did not go up again as some of us were tired and the traffic was picking up.  Leon, Conor, and I loaded up our bikes and headed home; while the other guys rode back to their cars.  Les and Dwaine were talking about going up Crystal Mountain when they got back to the car.  The pictures below suggest that they made it.
Dwaine at Crystal...

Les at Crystal...

The weather – which was supposed to be rainy – was beautiful.  It was a great group of guys to ride with and a great climb - other than the wind at the top, an almost perfect day.  Can’t wait until next time!!

To see all of the photos from this trip, click on the following link (thanks to Les Becker and Jim Wilcher for the photos): .

Sunday, July 13, 2014



On the eve of leaving for California with Mike Smith a number emotions are running through me.  I am definitely excited to take on the challenge of climbing 10 of the 100 most difficult climbs in the U.S.  Five of those climbs are in the top 15 of difficulty. I will be trying to do nearly 50,000 ft. of climbing in 8-9 days of climbing.  I am also feeling some apprehension if at almost 64 years old that I am ready to take on such a challenge.  I am grateful that Mike is joining me in this adventure.  He plans to do the 5 most difficult climbs and possibly some of the others.  The forecasted 100 degree daytime temperatures make me feel uneasy about it adding to the challenge.  If it was going to be easy, two Cyclopaths would not be taking on the challenge.  Odd as it is my right knee is hurting today after a week of easier riding. Perhaps it doesn’t like me taking it easy.

Monday we left Tacoma around 12 and spent the night in Klamath Falls.  After 7 hours of driving on we arrived at Sonora West Climb #34 on Summerson’s list.  At 9,400 feet the temperature was 80 degrees.  I descended the 9.1 miles and started my climb.  This climb is noted for a large sign that indicates grades of 26%. How hard could a 9.1 mile climb be, I thought to myself.  The pitch immediately jumped up as the 90 degree heat at 6,000 feet jumped up. Very soon I was sweating away and struggling to keep my breathing under control. In the first 11 minutes of the climb I had already climbed over 500 feet.  The  first 3 miles were horrible with nothing below 10% and segments and ramps up to the 26%.  Two separate times that magic number crossed my Garmin.  I finished the 3,300 ft climb in 1:23 min of riding time.  I was pleased with that but not pleased with how tired I was after my first of ten climbs. 5 of those climbs are ranked in the top 15 so lots of hard work ahead of me.  

              Leon at the top of  the tough Sonora Pass  with a 26% section #34 on Summerson's list

Wednesday had me doing Pine Creek just outside Bishop (2700 ft just over 8 mi.).  This is a climb Conor did last year that was the 3rd climb of the day.  He did it under those circumstances and still did it in 45 min compared to my 1:03.  It is a very nice consistent climb that follows a creek to the camp ground.  The grade was very consistent around 6-8 %. I was able to start at 7 but already it was 75 degrees.  We are now in Lone Pine where it was 103 degrees today.  Mike has graciously agreed to get up at 5 and to try and start riding at 5:30. 

                                                    Pine Creek Road Climb #81 on list

Thursday we were on bikes by 5:40 and 68 degrees. Horseshoe Meadow’s # 6 on Summerson’s list of difficulty is 19 miles long with 6,500 feet of elevation gain ending at 10,034  I must have looked a little strange have a ace sock tied around my neck at 5:40 in the morning but it proved real helpful because as soon as the sun started hitting us I warmed up real quick.  I was sad that the ice only last 1:30 minutes. The beginning grade of the climb was fairly easy but the road was very rough and made the pitch seem steeper as we road along rather slowly. Mike’s hip had been bothering him so he encouraged me to go ahead and head off by myself.  The climb soon became more challenging. The climb has the 3rd most difficult 10 mile climbing segment in his book with a 7.9% average. At mile 16 Summerson showed a slight descent but in actuality it was a mile long descent with 13% +.  It gave me a chance to cool off some and let my legs rest but then I realized that I need to reclimb the 200 or so feet I just descended.   HM is also rated as the 7th most scenic climb and that was very true. Views of the valley were incredible.  It helps to distract me from the pain of climbing. I ended up doing the climb in 2:36 as made it to the #10 spot of all aged riders climbing HM.  I was rather surprised by that.  My climbing rate of over 2,400 ft an hour was the best I have done on a long climb in awhile. Mike was not far behind and is now the 3rd fastest in our age group.  We were so glad we went early the heat came quickly and so did the wind.  102 today with 20-25 mph wind. After I headed down the thought of being done with a tough climb was at the top of my thoughts.  After 3 miles those thoughts quickly left as I hit the 1 mile climb up double digit hill.  It was painful physically and mentally. The remainder of the downhill went well except for the 1-2 inch cracks across the road that gave us a jolt when we hit them.  I rolled along fast wanting to get down and ride back to the hotel before breakfast was over (10:00) I was grateful to get back to the hotel by 9:30.

                  Heading up Horseshoe Meadows  6,600 ft of climbing over 19 miles. #6 on the list
 Horse camp at the top of the climb. Horse trails from here head towards Mt. Whitney the tallest    Mt. in the Continental US
View of the valley from HM climb. Dried up Owen's Lake below. HM #7 on Summerson's list of most scenic climbs.
Whitney Portal was on track for the 4th of July.  I wore my USA world championship jersey to celebrate. WP is #10 on the list and with its 4,580 ft. of gain over 11.3 miles gives it an average pitch  of 7.7% It’s 10 mile average of 8.0% is number 2 of the steepest 10 mile segments in the US.  The average pitch scared both Mike and I.  We started off rather slowly but our effort and speed increased as we went. The pitch never went over 13% and allowed us to get in a good rhythm. The riding surface was relatively smooth and the 11 + miles went by fairly quickly.  The descent was hair raising.  Summerson has it listed as the 9th fastest descent. I was up to 47 mph without pedaling. The climb starts and finishes 1 mile from the hotel so we made it down for breakfast.  I was grateful for having a hotel with a 5-10 a.m. breakfast time. 

  A friend greeting me as I head up Whitney Portal # 10 on the list 7.7 av. gradient for 11.3 mi. #2 on  the list of most difficult 10 mi segments in the U.S. with a 8% av. Also #9 on his list of most scenic.

                                                  Waterfall at the top of Whitney Portal
For those planning summit Mt. Whitney this is the place where they park their cars and start their   trek to over 14,000 ft.  They have a resteraunt that has a spectacular hamburger to fuel climbers.
An area  above is called the Alabama Hills It is an area where many of the Western films were filmed
                            A huge bolder that greets you as you ride through Alabama Hills

Some of you may not know but Conor is doing a race in August that races up Horseshoe Meadows on day 1 and Whitney Portal on day two.  I wish I was able to be here to watch and cheer Conor on.  It should be exciting. They are both challenging but beautiful climbs.  Mike and I left a little surprise for Conor.

July 5th climb was up Onion Valley.  OV is # 5 on Summerson’s list of US most difficult climbs.  Not sure why we ended up keeping the highest rated climb on the trip after HM and WP but we did.  5,169 ft. of climbing was ahead of us.  7.8% average gradient and a 10 mile segment of 8.3% the most difficult 10 mile segment in all the US bike climbs.  OV is a very similar climb to WP just a little longer and steeper.  Even though we started riding by 6:00 I was sweating bullets before we were ½ way up.  I tried to stay focused and stay confident.  I made it up just less than 2 hours meaning 2,500 + ft of climbing per hour.  I was happy with that.  As I approached the top a saw a dear near the 9,200 ft summit, I kept expected him to run off but he stayed until I was within 50 ft. of him.  Mike made it up a few minutes later and the deer was there to great Mike too. It was fun being greeted like that.

Top of Onion Valley Climb. #5 on list. #1 in toughest 10 mi. segment with a 8.3 % average. Full     climb is 12.5 mi. and 5,169 ft of climbing. #3 on is list of most scenic.


                           Views of the road and the valley coming down Onion Valley Road

After completing the 3 top ten climbs in the Lone Pine area we headed for Wofford Heights and the west side of the Sierra  Mts.  Neighboring Lake Isabella showed the signs of the drought.  Very,very low water level.  One of the residents said some of the water was being diverted to Southern California. SAD. Mike chose not to do either of Shirley Meadows West # 91and Shirley Meadows East #19 so I was up at 4 and headed to the start the two climbs. There are times that climbs/rides turnout exactly the way you plan them and other times the plans don’t really workout, this ride was going to be one of the later. I had plans to drive to the top of pass and start with the 2 mile climb to the ski area.  I knew that I could start climbing about 15 min earlier if I was headed uphill. When I arrived at the top of the pass the road was closed only open to firefighters. So instead of starting to climb I sat in the car until there was more light.  The SM East climb is short but very steep.  Several sections had pitches of 16-19% pitches. It climbs 4,100 ft in 9.9 miles with an average pitch of 7.9%. The climb went fairly well and after filling my bottles at the car at the top I headed down to do the 22 mile descent to the small town of Woody. About half way down I decided to hide one of my bottles and avoid carrying it 20 miles in heat down and back up hill.  The ride to Woody went rather slowly.  It may sound strange but sometimes on long rides like this I say the rosary.  On the way back up the pass I started a rosary.  Prior to finishing the rosary I remembered to start looking for the bottle I had left.  “Where is it,” I thought.  It should be around the next corner but it wasn’t.  Well maybe I am not remembering correctly.  Should I go back or should I just keep riding.  I check my bottle and I had only 1/3 of a bottle left.  If I go back and don’t find it I will have wasted some valuable time and energy.  What should I do???  I finally decided to keep riding with the home the bottle was farther up the hill.  I had over 10 miles of climbing and about 3,500 ft of climbing yet to do.  Perhaps it was the thought that I had not found my bottle but the sun seemed to be getting stronger and my throat getting drier.  At that point I stopped drinking and started sucking on “blocks” to keep my throat wet and to give me some electrolytes. The miles moved by slowly.  Up ahead I saw a building for the park service so I stopped hoping to find someone there.  Nope, no luck.  Remounted my bike and continued my ride worrying about how I might have made a huge mistake losing my bottle.  About 5 miles from the top I saw some firefighters standing next to a truck.  I rolled up and pleaded for any water.  They not only had cold water they offered me some Gatorade.  I was so grateful and so lucky!!!  Another couple miles up the road another group of firefighters were near the side of the road. All of them started applauding and encouraging me. Little did they know how close I came to disaster.  I finally reached the top at 11:00 a.m. with 88 degrees F. and a tired rider who had ridden 60 miles and 8,800 ft.  LUCKY! Having completed both climbs we tried to change our hotel reservations to get closer to Sequoia National park but they would not allow us to cancel and switch our reservation.

                 A view of Isabella Lake from part way up Shirley Meadow's East #15 on the list.

The next day was Sherman Pass a remote climb into the Sierra Mts. The climb is #8 on the list with 5,316 ft. of climbing over 15.2 miles. Mike and I started off early again to try and avoid the heat.  I had my neck sock filled with ice like usual.  Mike and I stayed together and talked a lot about a variety of things.  One of the topics was the feces’ on the road.  I told Mike that they were cow pies.  He wasn’t sure I was correct since there was no sign of a ranch or of any cows.  About half way up we came around a bend and 5 cows were there one of them being a big bull. I slowed some noticing that the bull was keeping a close eye on us.  Soon the group started running up the climb.  Since both sides of the road were rather steep the cattle had no choice but to continue running up the road.  This went on for about a half hour until a spot on the road allowed them to get away from us.  Around the next curve brought another set of cattle that we followed for 15 minutes or so. The time we followed the cattle helped the time go by quickly and we were over 13 miles.  We both picked up the pace and finished the climb challenging our fitness.

      Kern River a view on our way to Sherman Pass.  Most years this river supports a big rafting.

                                Our Sherman Pass friends who escorted us up part of the climb!

To make it to the Sequoia climb around 7 we had to get up at 4:00 .a.m. and leave by 4:30.  We arrived at our starting point by 7:00 and on our bikes by 7:15.  The highlight of the drive is that I found the water bottle that I had stashed on my Shirley Meadows West climb. In April of 2012 Mike Hassur and Scott Larson and I attempted this climb but were stopped by park officials because of road repair.  At 7:15 it was already 72 degrees.  The climb was a consistent 6% grade with frequent S turns.  Much of the route was shaded from the early morning sun.  We were grateful for that as it was warming up quickly. Not far up the climb road signs indicated road construction ahead with ½ hour delays possible.  Thoughts of Mike, Scott, and I being prevented from finishing the climb made me nervous. We kept riding hoping for the best. There were numerous sections of the road that had been dug-up but no road blocks.  Near the top numerous Giant Sequoia were near the road.  Their size was incredible.  The 16.6 mi. climb over 5,120 ft. went well.  After finishing the climb I quickly started the descent and had thought of driving north that morning and doing King’s Canyon the last of the 10 ranked climbs. The climb was a really fun descent with many s curves and a smooth road.  I think Mike and Scott would have loved it. Thoughts of trying to do Kings Canyon today would mean that we could both sleep in the morning have breakfast and then heading north.  When we got back to the car at 10:15 it was 99 degrees. After some discussion with Mike the decision was made to not try and do it in this heat but get up early the next morning and do it and then drive to Roseville.

                                        Pictures of Sequoia Climb in Sequoia National Park

The thought of sleeping in and having a leisurely breakfast sure sounded appealing but I think we made a good decision. We were up at 5 and on the road driving by 5:30. After a 2 + hour drive we arrive at King’s Canyon National Park and the start of our last of my last ranked climb in California. At the top of the climb it was 58 degrees and after some discussion we decided to drive to the bottom and climb while it was cooler and descend when it was warmer. The plan worked well and after using the rest room to change and wash up we headed to Roseville to have dinner with my daughter Rebecca who is a physician at Beal Air Force Base. After a wonderful dinner we headed for Weed California for our last night on the road.  We didn’t get to bed until after 10 p.m. but I was determined to get in 1 more climb. Sept of 2012 Conor and I had climbed Mt. Shasta and loved the climb. I was determined to enjoy this climb again and I also wanted to test my fitness compared to my ride with Conor prior to my broken femur.  Even though Conor and I didn’t TT up the climb we did work hard and I thought would be a good gauge of my fitness.  Up at 4 and on the bike by 5:15.  For the first time on this trip I did not need my neck sock with ice in it.  It was 58 deg. and it wasn’t expected to warm up real quickly.   The temperature up the climb was very much to my liking I worked hard and kept my HR near 160.  As I approached the top fatigue started to set in and I was anxious to get to the top.  I was so anxious that I had forgotten that there are two parking lots prior to the top and I had forgotten about both and was fooled thinking I was done twice. It is a smooth and consistent climb with most of the sections averaging 6%.  I covered the 14 mi. climb in 1:42 for the 4,300 ft climb. The descent was a little too cool for me but much easier than the hot temperatures we normally had.  Satisfied with my effort I headed back to Weed and head home.


                                                                   Kings Canyon Climb in Kings Canyon National Park  

When we left for the trip my intention was to write my blog entries each night and down the pictures and have it ready to submit before we got home.  It shouldn’t be too difficult when you are done riding by 10 a.m. on many mornings.  Living the life of a bike racer where ride, eat and rest is the mode didn’t leave us the time I thought.  Prior to the trip I feared trying to ride everyday over such challenging climbs. I even considered we might need to take a couple days off the bike. I was however able to do 11 climbs in 11 days with 49,700 ft of climbing.  Resting between climbs, eating well, starting early and using my ice neck scarf were real keys for me.  Mike never needed a neck scarf but he followed the other three keys to success.  Four years ago Mike and I went to a Redmond Cycling lecture at the Seattle REI on the three climbs we did out of Lone Pine.  They said to never try these climbs other than in late September. It is the only month that the passes are open and yet not incredibly hot. The trip was an incredible adventure.  Mike was a terrific partner.  No wonder we have been friends for over 40 years. I truly hope that all the Cyclopaths have a chance to take on such an adventure. Anyone interested in going to New England next April to finish the last 6 on my list including #1 Mt Washington please let me know.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

2014_07_05 Triple-By-Pass (Reverse Direction)

Author:  This blog post created by multiple authors
2014_07_05 Triple-By-Pass (Counter Clockwise Direction)
(by Mike Hassur)

The plan was to meet at the crest of Cayuse Pass at 6:00 AM this past Saturday morning and then drive past Ohanapecosh to the base of White Pass.  Our ride would take us over White Pass on highway 12 and down the east side to the junction of highways 12 and 410 (near Naches).  We would then proceed west on highway 410 for 50 miles or so until we crested Chinook Pass.  From there it was downhill to Cayuse Pass, Ohanapecosh, and back to where our cars were parked.  This plan allowed us to spend the coldest part of the early morning climbing White Pass and generating plenty of heat to stay warm.

John Winter and I drove out to the mountains together.  When we arrived at the top of Cayuse Pass at 5:50 AM, we found Mark and Mario waiting for us. Nick, Les, Dwaine, and Jim joined us soon after.  We waited until about 6:05 AM to see if anyone else might show up.  No one did, so we caravanned down the south side of Cayuse Pass to our starting point at the base of the west side of White Pass. On the way, we saw a large bull elk with a huge rack of antlers standing in the middle of a pond next to the road; he was eating water grass and was oblivious to the cars passing relatively close by.  As we were getting our bikes ready to go, another car showed up.  It was James Kressler.  He had overslept and had raced out to join us hoping that he would not be too late to catch us.

Les, Dwaine (hidden), Mike, & John
Our group started up White Pass at about 6:45 AM.  It was a 12-mile climb to the top of White Pass with the grade varying between 5% and 9%.  We were full of energy, the temperature was cool (perfect for going uphill), and Mt. Rainier was out in its full glory; so the trip up to the pass was fun and pretty easy.  At the top, we stopped briefly to regroup.

As we headed down the east side of White Pass, we soon formed into two groups.  The front group of James, Mark, and Dwaine got a bit of a head start and maintained it until our next stopping point at the Trout Lodge (about 25 miles east of
Heading down east side of White Pass...
White Pass).  The second group consisted of Mario, John, Les, Jim, Mike, and Nick.  With Mario leading, our group hurtled down toward Trout Lodge.  In retrospect, this was probably a mistake; because we used up a lot of energy unnecessarily – energy that most of us (especially me) could have used later in the ride. 

Upon arriving at Trout Lodge, we re-supplied with food and drink.  While our bikes were sitting in front of the lodge, John Winter’s front tire suddenly started hissing and lost all of its air in a matter of seconds.  It turned out that he had cut the sidewall of his tire, and the tube – which had been protruding through – finally blew out.  John, assisted by 3-4 Cyclopaths who were standing close by giving advice, quickly fixed the problem (with an assist from Les Becker who gave John a “tire boot” to reinforce the tire where it had been cut); and we were on our way. 

Mechanical problem for Mario (no
shortage of advice from everyone else)...
Unfortunately, Mario encountered a mechanical problem within the first mile after leaving the Trout Lodge.  His rear hub was literally tearing apart.  One spoke had pulled out of the hub, and there were cracks in two other areas of the hub where the spokes attached.  It was clear that he would not be able to continue as we still had about 75 miles to go.  Since he and Mark had driven out together, they turned around and headed back up White Pass and back to their car (I will leave it to Mark to tell that part of the story). 

This is the end of my part of the story, because - not long after this, as it started to get hot (~85 degrees) – my ride began to fall apart (leg cramps, upset stomach, and over-heating).  I, eventually, made it to the top of Chinook Pass (way behind everyone else) where John Winter picked me up in the van.

Dwaine's View of the 2014 Cyclopath Reverse Triple-By-Pass By the Numbers
(by Dwaine Trummert)

4 oh 5 - Time in the a.m. that Les and I loaded his van and hit the road.

Quadruple - Number of shots necessary in my Americano that morning.

90 - One way miles of driving before the many miles of riding could even begin. Happily, the conversation and scenery were pleasant. And we drove past a moose. Or an Elk. Or maybe a stump with big antlers.

12 - The number of miles from the parking area to the top of White Pass. Much to my relief
John, James, and Jim heading up White Pass...
most of the group was content with a moderate pace up this first climb. My legs appreciated this warm up pace. This part of the ride with it's moderate pace, near lack of vehicle traffic, and conversational opportunities was the most enjoyable part of my day. While the majority of the group stayed together, Nick, Mario, and Mark went off the front and would not be seen again until the first shop stop.

22 and change - Paceline miles per hour along Rimrock Lake. This speed was just a little bit beyond my comfort zone. Yet I figured I'd save energy by staying with the group. So I took short pulls. Our paceline worked smoothly and the scenery was enjoyable.

12.5 - Percentage of hub flange spoke holes that were either broken or cracked in Mario's
rear hub. This revelation was a real bummer. After working on the bike in the weeds next to Highway 12 we realized there would be no roadside repair. Not only would Mario need to abandon the ride, he would be facing a challenge to get back to the parking area. Mark chose to stay with Mario. We bid a sad farewell to Mario and Mark and continued East.

Six and a half - The number of minutes that Les was pulling at the front of the paceline while he waited and waited and waited for a break in traffic. His
body language was clearly saying, "I'm ready to end my turn" while the passing traffic pattern was having none of it. He maintained a good pace during his long pull.

250 - The number of calories in the Rice Krispies Treat purchased at Whistlin Jack's. I'll never buy another one of those. Just too sticky. But I needed those calories more than I knew. My eating schedule was one 200 to 250 calorie item every hour on the hour. This schedule had worked well for me previously.

Fourish - The number of miles below Chinook Pass where I officially cracked. The group had already fragmented and I was working hard to stay on Les' rear wheel. I felt my battery draining. I warned Les I was running on fumes. The surprise was how my crumbling took place. The mask that hides the despair caused by miles of suffering was gone. My ride continued but my emotions, now worn raw, were visible to the world. I clicked down to bottom gear. I was unable to explain my condition yet I was still able to turn the pedals. Les suspected I was at the border of Bonk City. He chose to slow to my pace. He tried to cheer me up with conversation. And he made sure I didn't get run over.

19 - Miles of mostly descending that took us from the top of Chinook Pass back to the start point of the ride. I thought I was home free.

18 - The number of years since bonk number one. Bonk number two had started to show itself on the East side of Chinook Pass. Full impact occurred in the last two miles of the ride. Once at the van I parked my bike and immediately ate something. My mood started to improve within minutes.

10 or 15 - The number of minutes Les tells me it took to order and purchase the worlds best Vanilla Latte at Wapiti Woolies. I fell asleep while waiting in the passenger seat.

Three - Quantity of nominations for MVC. Mike is almost always up for Most Valuable Cyclopath. He's the guy that makes all this fun possible. Mark, of course, gets a nomination for sacrificing his day to help get Mario home. But from my perspective, Les takes the trophy for tolerating my suffering and making sure I kept the shiny side up.

From Whistling Jacks to the Chinook Pass Summit
(by Jim Wilcher)

** Note:  no photos at Whistling Jacks or thereafter (we were all too tired to pull our cameras out) **

We met up at Whistling Jacks, for our last load of food and water before the final push. I was curious to see what everyone was using for fuel. Mike pulled a baggie from his fanny pack and began mixing Perpetuem in is water bottles. Les had a package of Donettes in his water bottle cage. John opted for Pop Tarts, PowerAid and a soda pop and Dwaine was mixing a highball of Peanut Butter Cheese Cracker Sandwiches with Rice Crispy Treats!  Nick had some kind of cracker in his mouth at every stop but I couldn't determine his brand preference. For me, it was a bar and some Endurolyte Caps. Les asked me what those capsules had in them. I hinted that they might contain cannabis but I didn't really know.

When we remounted the bikes, the remaining group (now 7 of us) would no longer be together again. Was it the choice of fuel that made the difference in how we performed in the last segment? I had lost James wheel earlier and now as I looked up and down the road, not a Cyclopath was to be seen. It was getting hot as hell and I remembered Les announcing earlier that his Garmin was reading 90 degrees. No wonder Chinook Pass felt like purgatory, it was hot and humid and went on forever. The ride it seemed was starting to unfold as a drama. Mario's hub failure, then the mysterious flat on John's front tire while it was parked (could it have been a chipmunk trying to warn us). We split into pockets of isolation, left to survive the mountains and elements on our own. A slight rain began to fall and it was gloriously good. But when it subsided, the sauna like conditions retuned and I wondered what it would be like if those capsules really were laced with Mary Jane.

Then I saw a small moving dot ahead its James, the man in black. I figured I could catch up with him as long as he doesn't know I'm coming. Crank, crank, cranking up the wide-open drainage of Chinook Pass until his breathing was audible. That's when I announced in an ultra casual voice, "Hi James". He just about flinched off his bike. I didn't intend that response but it was kinda funny. For me, the steeper parts of the climb felt better and I could feel a little cooler air. I begged for more of that wonderful cool alpine air. Near the top the cool air finally came, a breeze was blowing over the snowfields and washing over our parched bodies. Relieved, James and I stopped at the summit and absorbed the experience for several minutes before descending to the cars.

James Makes His Maiden Triple-By-Pass Voyage
(by James Kressler)

Epic team pace line...grabbing wheels...taking my turn at pulling.  Refusing to fall off the back.  And then...Les cracked the whip!  I went extra deep to hang onto his wheel.  We became what I called in my head "the gang of four".  By the time we reached Whistling Jack's I was toast and I remember thanking Les for "slowing down" a few times so I could continue being part of the four.

I knew that I needed to head up Chinook early so I left Jack's as soon as I could.  I hugged Jim's wheel for a long time and then...he was gone.  Huh?  For mile after mile I wondered what had happened..."what did I say"...did he go back to check on Mike"..."should I go back"..."how can Les be so bleeping strong"..."shut up legs"..."why is it so hot"..."why didn't I lose more weight"..."did I really drop Jim"...while I was looping thoughts around and around and around in my head I was battling the SUN.  Oh my God...the SUN.  We don't get to battle the sun very often in Western Wa so when it comes out...WATCH OUT.  I was also battling the knowledge that my MPH was steadily dropping from "so so" to "are you riding or walking" to "baby crawl". As this was my first time riding from Naches to Chinook I was getting desperate to reach the infamous "tack" bridge.  Did reaching that landmark help me get going again?  Not really.  About 3 miles from the top I was awoken from one of my mental mantras by JIM.  Wow!  Out of seemingly nowhere...Jim!  Be advised that he is a one sneaky dude!  I tried to hug his wheel...couldn't do it.  Next best alternative...keep him in site...success.

Typically I put my size to good work on downhills.  The Saturday downhill from Chinook to my car was more of a blessed relief than fun.

Final thoughts...The Cyclopaths Rock!  I am very grateful that I've been able to hang with you guys.  Riding my bike makes me feel alive and riding fast within your group is wonderful.  

Nick’s suffering:  Doing the Triple Bypass to prevent a Triple Bypass.
(by Nick Iverson)

July 5th, the Puyallup Cyclopaths once again set out on another adventure.  Personally on this ride, I expected to get dumped on the climb up White Pass.  In order to prevent a delay
White Pass break...
at the top, I just headed out and waited for the bright yellow and orange jerseys to come roaring up the hill to wait for me at the top.  Much to my surprise, only Mario and Mark caught up and passed.  Mark was hammering, and said his heart rate was 180 for the climb.  I kept mine at 150.  Soon the group headed down the hill, and everybody passed me as if I were stopped.  Within a half mile I was solo.  I wanted to be Han Solo, but I had nerves of aluminum.  I watched longingly as the pace line gradually disappeared down the hill.  Having a couple of near misses on descents this year has made high speeds scary.  Eventually I reached the first stop, having ridden the entire descent alone, (snif), but at a leisurely pace that allowed me to gaze over the beauty of Rimrock Lake.  Bumbling along at about 18mph, I yearned for the pace line had likely gone 37mph through this area.  At our “rest stop,” mechanical problems:  flats and wheel problems. 
Repairing John's blow out at Trout Lodge
(thank goodness for Les' "boot")...

 Onward.  It was great to be riding in a pace line headed toward WA 410 at a nice pace of about 37mph.  I spent as little time pulling as possible, knowing that I would be Han Solo heading up Chinook Pass.  Jim Wilcher and Iron Mike Hassur helped me keep a reasonable pace as I dropped off the back of the “kids” in the pace line ahead.  Finally Jim started whistling, and I knew we were soon to see Jack’s.  After a short stop, I told Jim and Mike to just go ahead, and that Solo would eventually get to the top.  I may not be fast, but I’m old.  After passing the “Chinook Pass 11 miles” sign, I was feeling okay, and was able to get up to 10mph at times, and there were a few spots where I could get a boost from some flat areas or even slight downhills, and RIDE ON MY AEROBARS!  Eventually the climb gets steeper, buy my cadence was steady.  At about 4-5 miles from the top, there was a cyclist up the road easily visible with a bright orange and yellow jersey.  OMG it was IRON MIKE.  Changing into my doctor mode, I talked to Mike, offered him some Gatorade, and when I was certain that he was bonked, was okay, and had help on the way, I headed back up the hill.  I don’t quite understand the suffering that we do on these long climbs, but I just stayed in my own rhythm, and in my lowest gear, and the miles gently passed by.  The views were awesome.  Then 2 pickup trucks driven by Bubbas, followed by a Winnebago driven by their Dad, Bubba, each pulling a trailer with some off road vehicles were in a contest to see how close they could come to me without killing me.  I saw the same three !#$%^&*+!!! heading east on my way up 410 the previous Wednesday as I was riding up to Sunrise!  To their chagrin, I lived.

Soon I crossed under the wooden Chinook Pass sign, and was courageous (or dumb) enough to zip down to the top of Cayuse where I waited to make sure that Mike had indeed gotten a ride.  Mike had a smile, as he had recovered enough to get back on his bike and make it to the top of Chinook before getting a ride home.  I headed down Cayuse, and about half way was able to just let it fly.  At the starting point was my lone Volvo waiting to take the last euphoric Cyclopath home.  What a joy to be able to ride with all the caring group, and special thanks to Jim and Mike for helping to drag me to Whistling Jack’s.  I think that part of Mike’s Bonk was his usual gift of his energy to help another cyclist.

John Recounts His the Epic Triple-By-Pass Experience
(by John Winter)

When we arrived at Cayuse Pass for the “Reverse Triple Bypass” (aka Double Bypass) we all felt a bit chilled as we waited for everyone to show up.  With the image of our ill-fated Skate Creek ride still clear in our minds we decided to avoid the descent to Ohanapecosh and drive down and start our ride at the intersection of highway 12 and 123 near Packwood (good choice).  As Mike and I drove past the pond by the Ohanapecosh entrance we saw a big bull elk with a huge set of antlers (An awesome sight to see).   As we continued driving Mike was kicking himself for not getting a picture – guess we’ll have to record the memory in our brains (Ha!). 
After we parked the cars we all got into our usual pre-ride preparation routine.  Les was kind

enough to hand out to each rider a rubber tire ‘boot’ that he had cut out from an old tire.  I was to find out later that he couldn’t have given me a better gift.  We started up the climb towards White Pass at a reasonable pace and had lots of good conversation.  The temperature was perfect for climbing and the view of Mt. Rainier was spectacular.  Once we got to White Pass we all stopped at the convenience store for a quick nutrition break. 
As we started downhill towards Naches the temperature had warmed up to a comfortable temperature for descending.  So far so good with regards to the weather.  We broke up into two groups – Mark, Jim, James, Duane, and Les at the front while Mike, John, Mario and Nick brought up the rear.
We regrouped at Trout Lodge for another nutrition break and a chance to refill the water bottles.  As a few of us were waiting outside by the bikes we suddenly heard a loud ‘Pop’
followed by a ‘whoosh of air’.  Darn.  Sounds like someone has a flat tire now.  I’ll go and take a look.  Sure enough, it was my front tire that blew.  After changing the tube and re-inflating the tire Les and I did a quick inspection and noticed the tube bulging out of a small hole on the sidewall.  Must have hit a rock somewhere on the descent.  Perfect opportunity for using the boot that Les had given me at the beginning of the ride.  After slipping it in and inflating once again I was good to go.  Thanks again Les!!
As we left the lodge to begin the next leg of the ride we noticed that Mario and Mark were not riding along with us.  We all doubled back to see what the trouble was and as it turned out Mario had a mechanical issue.  After giving it a good college try for about half an hour it was discovered that Mario’s rear hub had a couple of cracks in it.  We all agreed that Mario’s ride was over for the day.  Very disappointing!!  Of all the Cyclopath rides I’ve been on there have been VERY few where we haven’t all finished together.  Mark decided he would ride back over White Pass and come back to rescue Mario. A true selfless Cyclopath gesture on his part.  Hope you guys made it back OK.
On to our next goal – Whistlin’ Jack’s.  We organized ourselves into a paceline and maintained a brisk pace along highway 410 towards Chinook.  Lots of July 4th weekend traffic and as a result some pulls ended up longer than expected for some of us.  Everyone made a strong contribution to keeping up the pace.  When we arrived at Whistlin’ Jack’s it was the usual busy scene.  We all snarfed down lots of calories (Pop Tarts, Rice Crispy Treats, and peanut butter crackers – Yum!).  I topped off my water bottles with quart of strawberry lemonade flavored Powerade and added about half a can of Squirt.  Not a bad tasting formula.  Before we left Mike told me he was starting to flag a bit so he handed me the car keys in case I finished before him.  If it didn’t go well he asked me to come back and pick him up. 
Jim heading up toward Chinook Pass...
Off to the final leg of the ride…..
I was feeling pretty good (must have been all the great food I’d been eating) so I put my head down and got into a good climbing rhythm.  The weather was rather warm and humid but some scattered cloud cover kept it from getting blistering hot.  At one point I even felt a few sprinkles coming down.  Unfortunately it lasted only a minute.  I was very tired and very relieved when I reached the top of the Pass.  While contemplating the ride on my descent I couldn’t decide which was more brutal – the ascent from Naches to Chinook or Ohanapecosh to Cayuse.  Both definitely in the ‘Epic’ category.  I made a speedy descent down to the car and quickly loaded up the bike, happy to be done.  As I drove back up toward Cayuse I flashed my headlights as I saw Duane and Les, Jim and James, and then Nick and Mike.  Not in his usual form at the front of the pack, Mike was disappointed not to finish the entire route but happy to finish the climb up Chinook.  Just having a bad day ….we’ve all been there. 

The Mark and Mario Perspective
( by Mark Delrosario)

I met Mario back in 2011 during the Skagit Spring Classic, which was my second organized ride during my inaugural year as a cyclist.  Sure enough it rained on that early May ride and being the more experienced cyclist Mario helped me thru the wet, cold, a railroad crossing fall and the headwind.  Since he lives on Whidbey Island in the north and I live in Fife in the south Puget Sound, we are lucky to ride together once or twice during summers.  We have corresponded thru email and watched our cycling progress on Strava.  In my opinion he is a strong and competitive cyclist.

This year I convinced him to throw his name into the Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day (Ramrod) lottery.  We were both selected.  I completed Ramrod (150 miles and 10k in climbing) in 2012, my rookie year with the Cyclopaths and my second year as a cyclist.  Without the training and rides with the group I might not have been able to complete the feat.  Our group rides during the season are a perfect build up towards such a goal. 

Mario joined us for this June's aborted Skate Creek Loop ride.  However, mother nature had different plans and would not cooperate with us to complete the ride due to the cold mist/rain and fog on the climb up and down Paradise Inn on Mt. Rainier.  Mario experienced a long mountain climb for the first time, was the only one of us to attempt to give chase to Conor and was more than capable of completing the full ride had we not cut it short due to the weather conditions.

Our Triple By Pass ride is a 115 mile ride over and down three mountain passes crossing from the west side of Washington to the east side and back.  Mario made the journey to join us once again.  My intention for the ride was to treat it as a training ride since I barely had any miles during the two week lead up.  Knowing Mario he would probably chase whomever was the fastest rider up the road.

The ride itself started with Dr. Nick starting off earlier than the rest of us.  The group rolled out single file.  Having only ridden the descent of the west side of White Pass I did not know what to expect so I kept a steady cadence up the grade.  Mario quickly joined me and the group disappeared from my rear view mirror.  Knowing the quality of riders I expected that they would come charging by at any time.  Mario began to egg me on and saying I wasn't showing any sign of suffering.  He couldn't be farthest from the truth.  Thanks for the encouragement though.  My heart rate was out the roof as I looked down to my Garmin reading a constant 180 beats per minute,,  My max!  I learned early on in my cycling experience that it is best to ride at your own pace or risk blowing up on a ride.  Easy to do if the riders are strong on mountain terrain.

Strava data confirmed my average heart rate for the 7.5 mile segment was 180 bpm.  I would hate to look at what the average was for the full 14 mile climb because I might really have a heart attack.  Mario could have taken off at any time and he even stopped a few times to take pictures of the scenery.  Several miles from the summit we spotted Dr. Nick.  Mario seems to think I picked up the pace but in reality I was counting down the miles to the top since seeing the 12 miles to White Pass sign.  I was grateful to be near the top.  Mario was dancing up in an Alberto Contador climbing style.  It was such a relief to feel the road flatten out after cresting and a welcome sight to see the gas station for a much needed break.  Dr. Nick arrived within the minute and the group a few minutes later.  Think they were conserving their energy which in retrospect I should have done too.

Dr. Nick got the party going again.  This time we passed him quickly on the descent of the east side of White Pass.  Against better judgment I tried to hammer the downhill to enjoy the fruits of my labor from the ascent.  I could see a scrambling of riders occurring behind me and eventually a chase began.  Before I knew it James, Jim and Duane were upon me and a pace line formed.  I found the descent too short for my liking.  I started to pay the price for my earlier efforts and foolishness with the onset of leg cramps.  As we rode along the Rimrock lake I felt like I had bricks instead of feet.  I only hope that I did my share of the work when it was my turn to pull.  We did not have a monster, i.e. Rob, to pull us like he did the previous year.  I was quite impressed with Jim.  He took on the role of captain of the road warning us of the tunnel ahead and checking if we were ok.     

We arrived at, Trout Lodge, the second scheduled rest stop about 35 miles into the ride.  The rest of the group was less than a minute behind.  Only another 80 miles to go.  After snacking and fixing John's flat we were off again single file.  This time I thought I'd sit in the back to conserve energy for this middle section of the ride.  Some campers hooted and hollered at us and next thing I know there was an ugly sound from Mario's bike.  He pulled off and I did too.  The rest of the group slipped away from view but they realized we were missing and turned around.  The mechanical turned out to be worse than a dropped chain.  The rear hub had cracked in several spots where the hub holds the spokes and the wheel was out of true and the rear derailleur hanger bent as a result.  Mario recalls a part of the road on the descent where he hit a rough spot.  The plan was formulated that Mario and I would double back to the cars and the group would part ways to continue on to finish the ride. 

Mario and I started back at a reduced pace but again his wheel became an issue.  I forged ahead and Mario would make it as far as he can by the time I returned with the car.  Being isolated and riding solo on an ascent of a pass I found it difficult to maintain a steady pace.  The east side of the state has a dry heat climate and that didn't help the situation.  The Garmin read 80-90 degrees.  It felt like I was crawling up the mountain in purgatory.  After you feel like you can't suffer no more survival mode kicks in.  I stopped on the side of the road to dip my bandana and jersey in some running water to cool off even though the relief would be temporary.  At the top of White Pass the temperature was 15 degrees less and I was able to stop for food.  An overcooked gas station burrito never tasted so good.  It was enough to hold off the hunger pains.  The descent was uneventful using gravity to my advantage.  Heading back with the car I came across Mario after he crested White Pass.  Mario made it very far and rode well considering his mechanical.  He mentioned he suffered thru the heat too and stopped for a pricey burger.  It appears his solo ascent of White Pass was faster than mine.

Is Mario 0 for 2 in Cyclopath rides?  I'd like to think the opposite.  The Skate Creek Loop ride was aborted because of the weather conditions but we did summit the Mt. Rainier climb and did additional miles after we returned to Ashford.  On Triple By Pass, we might not have completed the full 115 mile loop.  Despite the mechanical we accomplished the equivalent amount of climbing.  The training leading up to Ramrod could have been better.  No matter, I imagine we will find a way to make it an epic ride to remember.

To see all of the photos from this ride, click on the following link: