Author: Mike Hassur
What a ride!! Last Tuesday (8/19/14), Leon and I were talking about possible options for a ride on Saturday (8/23/14). One of us came up with the idea of doing the “Tour de Blast” route on Mt. St. Helens (Leon claims that it was my idea, but I’m not so sure). Anyway, the more we talked about it, the better we liked the idea. I talked to Les Becker the next day, and his face lit up in a smile that lasted the rest of the week. Leon talked to Tom Peterson; and, surprisingly, Tom was free to go (he is busy with two sons playing soccer and tennis at a high level). In the end, we had six guys going: Leon, Les, Tom, Mark Delrosario, Dwaine Trummert, and myself.
We met at the McDonalds at the junction of Highways 512 and I-5 at 5:00 AM on Saturday morning. Our goal was to be leaving McDonalds at 5:00 AM and heading toward the town of Toutle where our ride would
|Ready to go: check out the new shorts...|
This ride is 85 miles long and offers approximately 7200’ of climbing. There are three major climbs. The first half of the ride includes a climb to Elk Rock Lookout, followed by a long descent, and the climb up to the Johnston Ridge Viewpoint/Observatory. At that point, you simply turn around and head back the way you came (which includes the long climb back up to Elk Rock).
|It didn't take long for the scenery to be pretty awesome...|
The weather was great, and everyone was in good spirits and ready to go. The first thing that we noticed was the quality of the road. The surface was nice and smooth, it was well maintained, and there was a really nice shoulder. In addition, we encountered very little traffic on the first half of our ride. We cruised up to Elk Rock at a nice pace – enjoying the scenery and the good company.
After Elk Rock, there was the long descent to the base of the second climb up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. That long descent was especially fun, because we didn’t have to worry about the quality of the road surface.
|One of a number of impressive bridges that we crossed...|
|These "rainbow bubbles" can be devastating should a rider come in contact with one...??!!|
|Starting the climb up to Johnston Ridge...|
The final climb up to Johnston Ridge was long and pretty steep (mostly 7% and above). Leon, Les,and Dwaine forged ahead while Tom and I paused to remove the long sleeved shirts that we were wearing under our jerseys (it was starting to warm up some, and we were generating plenty of heat). I can’t speak for their group, but the ride up with Tom was fun. We rode up pretty briskly, but we still managed to talk and enjoy the climb. We felt some fatigue from our efforts by the time we reached the end of the road, but the views from Johnston Ridge were well worth it. Not only did we have a very impressive view of the mountain; but we could see part of Spirit Lake, and we thought that we could see the Windy Ridge Viewing Area where we will be this coming Saturday – pretty cool!!
|Dwaine, Les, and a "groupie" at Johnston Ridge...|
The descent from Johnston Ridge was really fast and fun. Before we knew, we had started the climb back up to Elk Rock. Early in the climb, we hooked up with Mark.
ridden at his own pace on the outward bound portion of the ride as he was just
recovering from an illness and didn't want to overdo it. We rode as a group – sort of – to Elk Rock
and then on back to the cars. We
encountered more traffic on the way back; but, since they were heading in the
opposite direction from us, it was not really a problem. By the time we arrived back at the vehicles,
it was getting pretty warm. It was a
good time to be finishing (both in terms of heat and in terms of fatigue).
|Mark had been sick and was not in his usual condition, but he persevered...|
This was a really good ride, and it will be on next year’s ride schedule.
Next week, it is back to Mt. St Helens – just on the other side for the Windy Ridge Ride – can’t wait!!
To see all of the photos associated with this ride, click on the following link: Puyallup Cyclopaths' "Ride the Tour de Blast" Photos