Author: Mike Hassur
Up at 3:40 AM, bikes and gear already packed in the van. All I needed to do was eat and drink, get dressed, and be ready to meet Leon at 4:20 AM. We met on time, headed out, and arrived at Enumclaw at 4:50 AM (which was our goal).
Upon arriving, I texted Scott Wagar to let him know that we had arrived (I had some RAMROD info that he needed) and told him that I would meet him at the Starting Line to give it to him. As I was walking across the parking lot in the dark, someone called my name – it was Scott. Great, no long walk to the Starting Line.
Leon and I unpacked our bikes, got our gear ready, and were at the Starting Line by about 5:15 AM. Soon, most of our group had arrived (Les, Dwaine, Scott, John, Leon, and me). Mario, Mark, Kurt, Tom, and Nick were also doing the ride; but they had left a bit earlier. By 5:22 AM, we were crossing the Start/Finish Line and were beginning our ride.
It was forecast to be a hot day (in the 90’s); and, even at this earlier hour it was not cold. I wore a short sleeved shirt under my jersey to start the ride with the idea that I could easily stow it in my fanny pack as the day warmed up. It was cool enough that I was chilly at the start of the ride but not uncomfortable.
It was beginning to get light when we started, so visibility was not an issue. Our group cruised through Bucklely, then South Prairie, past Orting, and on to Lake Kapowsin at a comfortable pace and without mishap. As we started the final short climb up to the four-way stop by Lake Kapowsin, someone warned that there was a truck approaching behind our group. I turned my head briefly to see where the truck was. When I turned back, my front wheel was overlapping the rear wheel of John Winter’s bike; and, before I knew it, the spokes of my front wheel were “strumming” against John’s rear derailleur. We weren’t going very fast at this point, and no one crashed; but my front wheel was damaged and very wobbly.
It was clear that my RAMROD was over. The immediate question was what to do next. My first thought was that I needed to give the keys to my van to Leon before our group vanished. I yelled; and, fortunately, Leon heard me and came back. I gave him my keys, and he headed up the road in pursuit of the rest of our group. By releasing the front brake, I could get my front wheel to spin without hitting the brake pads. It wobbled, but it seemed to be “rideable”. I took off for home (Puyallup) which was about 10 miles away. While I was riding home, it occurred to me that I still had the whole day to do a ride – I just needed to get a different front wheel on my bike. With that in mind, I headed home as quickly and safely as I could.
When I got home, I called my wife (Kathy works out of our home) to warn her that I was at the front door. I didn’t want her thinking that some intruder was breaking into the house. I quickly put a different front wheel on my bike, shed the t-shirt that I had been wearing under my jersey, refilled my water bottle, and headed out.
I had decided to ride my bike over to Enumclaw and do the RAMROD Route backwards until I got near Cayuse Pass. I was hoping to meet someone from our group and ride back to Enumclaw with them. I was so excited about my new plan that I zoomed up Eli Hill (the hill on highway 410 going up to Bonney Lake) in a time that was near my PR – probably not wise, but fun… I continued on through Bonney Lake and Buckley and took the back road up past Mud Mountain Dam. Soon, I was back on highway 410 headed toward Greenwater.
It was on the way to Greenwater that my phone rang. It was Conor Collins. He’d had the misfortune to have two flats and a ruined tire. He’d abandoned the ride and was waiting to be picked up by his dad in Ashford – looks like I wasn’t the only person to encounter misfortune in this year’s RAMROD!! I wished Conor well and resumed riding.
I passed through Greenwater and was heading toward the RAMROD Deli (located at the junction of highway 410 and the road to Crystal Mountain) when I noticed that my front tire was going flat. Fixing the flat was easy and uneventful; and, soon, I was on my way again.
It was starting to get pretty hot, and I was beginning to get some slight cramping in my calves. I thought “Oh crap, I was looking forward to the ride back to Enumclaw, but now with the head and my cramps…”.
I arrived at the RAMROD Deli, refilled my water bottles, ate, and stationed myself under a tree right next to the highway. My plan was to latch on to the first Cyclopath who rode by and ride back to Enumclaw with him (or as far as I could get before I overheated/cramped). It was not a particularly comfortable wait as it was hot (even in the shade) and my legs were cramping just sitting there.
After about 50-60 minutes, I spotted a Cyclopath jersey approaching. It was John Winter. I yelled, hopped up (hobbled up??), threw on my helmet, and we were off. John was still riding strong. I helped him as much as I could, but I started to overheat badly as we got to Greenwater. I told John to go ahead without me as he was trying to finish in less than 9 hours.
I had a cold Gatoraid and an ice cream bar at the Greenwater general store and took off for Enumclaw. By this time, I was pretty much toast. I wasn’t going very fast and was surprised that I wasn’t passed by more people (or groups) in that final stretch – everyone else must have been feeling as bad as I was.
That final leg to Enumclaw seemed to take forever, but I finally made it. I found John Winter (who didn’t look nearly as wasted as everyone else) and congratulated him on a really good ride. Soon, Leon came in followed by Dwaine and Les.
After a quick shower, Leon and I hopped into my van and headed home.
My day had included frustration, innovation, and physical hardship all wrapped up into an “interesting” RAMROD package.
Next up: Quadruple By-Pass