Saturday, June 13, 2015

2015_06_13 The Climb To Sunrise (Maiden Voyage)

Author:  Mark Delrosario

Since there was no scheduled group ride Saturday June 13th, I sent a message out to my fellow Cyclopaths to find out if anyone was planning a ride. Heard Les and Dwaine were doing a 125 miler in preparation for STP, but they were doing it on Friday.  That was a no go since it's hard to play hookie from work. James Kressler said he was planning to do repeats on Chinook.

Then I got to thinking of doing Sunrise since I spent the last two Saturdays climbing Mt. Rainier. Why not a third Saturday in a row, and why not a different ascent by bike?  Kurt replied he'd give it a go even after his 14 hour flight from the Middle East. Leon and Mike said they were going Sunday, which wouldn't work for my schedule.

Saturday morning picked up Kurt in Edgewood. As we were nearing Crystal Mountain, Kurt noticed the car's outside temperature was reading 39 degrees.  I hadn't given any thought of the weather conditions. I assumed we'd be climbing and plus we were starting later with the sun already up.

Kurt had felt cold from the get go in the car. I was thinking it might be because he just came back from the desert climate. He was smart and wore our long sleeve club jersey and vest. I was only planning to wear sleeves meant for the sun and our vest. Luckily, I had left leg and arm warmers in a bag in the car.

We weren't the only cyclists at the Crystal Mountain turn off. There was one race team, another set of recreational riders that left before us, and down the road there was the Seattle Randonneuring group we saw making its way out of Enumclaw. We started our ride at 8:15, much later than our usual group start times.

It was a steady 4 mile climb to the Sunrise turnoff. Mostly in the shadow of the trees with a wind in our faces, which wasn't helping to fight off the cold.  I noticed that, when we saw the color of a red jersey up the road, Kurt's cadence tempo started to pick up. I was thinking there was no way it was one of the cyclists that left ahead of us.

The cyclist disappeared around the bend but we later caught up at the park gate. At this hour, there was a Park Ranger manning the gate. Flashed our new annual pass, and we were in. We caught up with the other cyclist within a minute. Since his pace was similar to ours, we kind of invited ourselves. Rick was wearing a 2012 Ramrod jersey so the obvious question was to ask if he got in this year. Nope. I happened to be wearing the 2014 Ramrod jersey.

He said he would usually ride Sunrise in preparation for Ramrod. For Kurt and I, this was our maiden ride. Kurt was riding stronger than me, and he lingered slightly ahead of us. I stayed back with Rick. There was a time we could've dropped him but we eased our pace. Rick's competitive juices kicked in and I think he made an effort to drop us. Half way up I started to tire, while Kurt could have maintained his distance ahead of Rick. We stopped at a bend for a break about 2/3 the way up. Rick continued on and a few other groups of cyclists passed us on the way up.

As we got to the lookout point, low and behold - James Kressler was coming down from the Lodge!  He chauffeured us up the remaining distance. Kurt was still riding strong.  No apparent effects of jet lag from what I could tell. Cool to have a big ring type stretch at the very top.  I was rather enjoying having this different viewpoint of Mt. Rainier. Don't recall seeing any snow on the side of the road, just green alpine valleys and pine trees with our grand mountain as the backdrop. I imagine it would be an awesome area to hike.

The descent after the long straight-aways was crazy with the bends, banking roads and decreasing radius turns. We could tell James was comfortable descending.  Speaking for myself my hands were on the brake levers. Having ascended on this same road earlier proved to be no help in determining the line through the many twists and turns on this road on the way down.

We departed from James at the campgrounds turn off since he was going to repeat the climb.  The remainder of the ride back to the car was uneventful with the exception of a large RV. Thankful he was a patient driver. We completed our ride by noon.

It was a nice Saturday morning. The weather was beautiful, roads nice and shared the experience with good company.

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