Saturday, August 16, 2014

Quadruple By Pass Ride

Author:  Mike Hassur

Our “Quadruple By Pass Ride” took place a week ago on Saturday, August 9th; and I’m just getting around to doing the blog post now.  That’s what happens when you have a son home visiting for a week, you get the Puyallup Cyclopath clothing order in and are trying to sort it out,  go to work, etc.  -  i.e. that is what happens when “life gets in the way”.  I know for a fact that some of you are far busier than I am, and I marvel at the way that you can manage to “keep all of those balls in the air” and still manage to stay sane.

This ride begins in the parking area by the Ranger Station on the east side of Mt Rainier National Park (near Ohanapecosh), climbs up to Backbone Ridge and down the other side to Box Canyon, up the long climb to Reflections Lakes, and on up to Paradise.  From there, we retrace our steps back to the starting point.  After stopping at the cars to shed clothing, restock drink and food supplies, and hit the bathrooms; we proceed up Cayuse Pass (with the bonus climb up to Chinook Pass for those still feeling energetic).   From there, it is back to the cars and home.

The nice thing about this ride is that, no matter how well prepared (or ill-prepared) you are for it – you will be okay.  If you get tired, you can turn around and it’s mostly downhill all the way back to the cars from any point on the ride – a definite plus. 

Bull elk - what a way to start our day!!
We met at the top of Cayuse at 6:00 AM:  Conor, Leon, Tom, James, and I.  We drove down the south side of Cayuse Pass toward our starting point: the parking lot for the Grove of the Patriarchs (just inside the park past the Ranger Station).  On the way down, we rounded a corner and came upon this large bull elk with a full rack of antlers, just standing on the shoulder of the road.  When he saw us, he ran along the shoulder for 30-40 yards before running across the road right in front of us – pretty spectacular.  From there, it was an uneventful trip down to our starting point.  While we were unloading our bikes, Nick Iverson showed up.  He said that he was going to drive up to the top of Backbone Ridge and start ahead of us from there. 
James, Tom, Conor, and Leon getting ready to go...

We got started up the climb to Backbone Ridge about 6:40 AM.  The road surface was smooth (we felt as though we were gliding up the climb), the temperature was good (middle 50’s), and there was absolutely no rain in the forecast.  The good company and the fact that we are all in good shape by this time of the year made the climb go by quickly without us feeling as though we were working very hard. 

The view from Backbone Ridge was its usual stunning self, so I lingered to take some photos.
View at the top of Backbone Ridge...
  When I was done, everyone was long gone except for Leon who had kindly ridden slowly so that I could catch up.  By the time that Leon and I made our way to the Box Canyon area, the other guys were already out of sight.  Conor had told us that he was going to “time trial” the segment up to Reflection Lakes and the rest of the guys had gotten away from us while I was taking photos.  Leon and I set about getting into a nice rhythm that would carry us up the climb through Steven’s Canyon.  Part way up. Rob Critchfield caught up from behind us.  He had arrived late and hustled to catch up with us.  He said that he wanted to “time trial” on up and would meet us in the Reflection Lakes area.  We maintained our pace and, eventually, caught up with Tom and James.  Our group then proceeded on up to the lakes where we regrouped with everyone.
Mike, Nick, Conor, Rob, Leon, Tom, & James...

We rode as a group up to Paradise, ate and drank, took some photos and headed down the east side of the Paradise Loop back toward Reflection Lakes.  From there it was the fast descent , down through Steven’s Canyon,
Just below the hairpin turn above Steven's Canyon...
back up the short side of Backbone Ridge, and down the fun and curving descent back to the cars. 

We stocked up with food and drink, headed out of the park, and started the climb up Cayuse Pass.  The Cayuse Pass climb is about 10 miles long and gains roughly 2500 feet in elevation.  I cannot describe this particular day’s climb in too much detail - I made the decision to accompany Conor and Rob up as far as I could.  Suffice it to say that there was not a lot of conversation on this climb – just a lot of effort!!  Ordinarily, I would not do this climb as quickly my two companions; but Conor was beginning to feel the effects of having done this entire ride the previous day (with Les Becker), and Rob had used up a lot of energy “time trialing” up Steven’s Canyon earlier in the ride.  In the end, we rode all the way up together in a time that was by far my fastest time ever on this climb (50:49).  Unfortunately for me, I had forgotten my Garmin that morning.  I was able to get the time based on Conor’s Garmin info, but I had no official Strava time – bummer!!  It’s kind of like the old saying “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound” – same thing for Strava Segments which cannot be officially posted on Strava.

When we got to the top of Cayuse, Conor and I were done and were looking forward to the ride down to the car.  Rob – on the other hand – who just a few minutes earlier on the last portion of the Cayuse climb had uttered the words “you guys are killing me” turned to us and said “when we get back to the cars, I think I’ll do the Backbone Ridge and Steven’s Canyon climbs again”!!  I think that Rob has “LOTOJA Fever”.  For those of you who don’t know what LOTOJA is, keep reading the blog – you will find out in a few weeks.

Leon and Tom soon joined us at the top of Cayuse.  Leon headed on up to Chinook Pass, while the rest of us headed back down toward the cars.  Conor and I loaded up the bikes, bid farewell to Tom Peterson, and headed back up Cayuse where we picked up Leon as he was heading down.  Rob was on his way back up Backbone Ridge, and Nick somehow finished the day with over 10,000 feet of climbing.  What an awesome day!!

Can’t wait until our next ride.

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