Sunday, August 16, 2015

2015-08-16 Hurricane Ridge Ride... With Short Notice

Author:  Mike Hassur

The road to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in Olympic National Park takes you 17 miles south of and 5,000 feet above Port Angeles, WA.  It is listed as one of the 100 Toughest Cycling Climbs in America.

Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center...

About mid-week of last week, I received an email from Les Becker asking if I would be interested in doing a ride up Hurricane Ridge on Sunday.  I had been planning to do Hurricane Ridge all summer.  I was hoping to do it in September as I wanted to be in really good shape (the goal being to have the best time in my age group on the Strava Segment which encompassed the entire climb).  Having the opportunity to do it with someone else – particularly someone like Les who rode about the same speed as me – was too good to pass up.  I said “sure – I’m in”.

By the time Sunday arrived, Conor Collins had also committed to do the ride with us.  On Sunday morning I met Conor in front of my house, loaded his bike in my van, and we were headed to our meeting point with Les by 5:00 AM.  We were to meet Les at a “Park and Ride” near the Narrows Bridge at around 5:30 AM.  We were a little early, and – by 5:30 – Les was pulling into the parking lot.  We were delighted to see that Dwaine Trummert was with Les.  All of a sudden the little duo of Les and me had doubled in size – this was sizing up to be a fun ride!!

The weather was perfect (cloudless sky and temperature in the 50’s), and the drive to Port Angeles was uneventful.  We parked at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles, hit the bathroom, got our gear ready, and were heading up the 17.6 mile climb by 7:45 PM.  We had decided that our goal was to ride together “briskly” and to maintain that as long as it was acceptable to everyone in the group.  If someone wanted to “take off”, that was fine.  By the time we arrived at the Ranger Station (a little over 4 miles into the climb), we were warmed up and feeling good.  There was a line of cars waiting to enter the park which had the potential to cost us considerable time.  Luckily, a second Park Ranger appeared.  He checked my National Park Pass and waved us all through.  We had lost a full minute regarding our Strava Segment time, but it could have been far worse.

Because of our early start, there was very little traffic.  The temperature was still around 60 degrees, and we climbed steadily at a good pace.  Conor could have easily left us at any point of this ride, but he chose to stay with the group for most of the ride (also, he chose to goad me about the seconds that I was losing by not riding as fast as he thought I should – I’m going to miss Conor when he leaves for college next month).

At about the 12 mile mark, I noticed that I was beginning to have beads of perspiration running down my face.  It had warmed up some, but it was not hot (probably in the low 60’s).  I had chosen to wear a Cyclopath cycling cap under my helmet (really helps to cut the glare on sunny days) and that was probably contributing to my head “heating up”; but the MAIN reason for those beads of sweat was exertion.  At about this same time, I started to have trouble keeping pace with the rest of the group – NOT GOOD.  I whipped out my Clif Mocha Gel Shot, sucked it down, and drank some Power Aid.  Soon, I was feeling better and able to maintain the group pace pretty easily. 

While I my “mini-crisis” was occurring, the rest of the group looked good and seemed to be moving up the mountain easily.  This is a beautiful climb with stunning views of Vancouver Island, the Straights of Juan De Fuca, Port Angeles, and the Olympic Mountains.  Unfortunately, we were so focused on the work at hand that we missed all of the grandeur (at least I did) until we reached the top.

Between 14 and 15 miles into the climb, Conor decided to pick up the pace a bit.  He took off and was not seen again until we reached the top.  Dwaine was riding very strongly; and, soon, he was off on his own as well.  Les and I continued at our respective paces and made it to the top feeling good about our efforts.  Conor did the climb in 1:42 (1 hour 42 minutes), Dwaine was 1:48, and Les and I were around 1:50 (not accounting for the minute that we lost at the Ranger Station).  If Les and Dwaine had ridden on their own the whole way, I’m confident that Conor would have been in the 1:20’s and Dwaine in the 1:30’s.

View from Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center...

The view at the top was spectacular – as usual.  We took a photo or two, refilled water bottles, ate, and visited with other cyclists who trickled in after us. 

Visiting with Lhaslo (?spelling?) who arrived shortly after us... he took the ferry over from Victoria to do the climb...

The ride down was fun though we got stuck behind an SUV right at the top and had to follow him for about the first 10 miles of the descent.  It was obvious that we could go faster than the motorist; but we didn’t want to do anything foolish/dangerous by passing him out of frustration, and he refused to pull over despite passing one “turn-out” after another.  Finally, he pulled off; and we shot down the remaining 7 miles or so of the descent – ONCE AGAIN MISSING MOST OF THE FABULOUS SCENERY!!

By the time we arrived back at our vans, we were all enthused about what a wonderful experience this had been.  After visiting a bit about the ride and changing clothes, we packed up the vans and headed home.

Next Ride:  Windy Ridge on Mt. St. Helens (this coming Saturday).  Can’t wait!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

2015_08_08 Quadruple Peaks/Passes Ride

Author:  Mike Hassur

Our goal was to start this ride at 5:50 AM.  Leon, Conor, and I arrived at the Crystal Mountain turn off from Hwy 410 at about 5:45 AM to find John, Les, Brent, and Scott W. already there.  Our group of seven was smaller than for some of our rides; but they were all strong riders, so staying together for most of the ride would be relatively easy.  Our plan was to ride up to do the Cayuse Pass and Chinook Pass part of the ride first so as to avoid the heavier traffic volume that would come later in the morning.  We would then ride back down to the turn off to Sunrise and do the Sunrise climb.  After that, we would head back to the cars, restock, and head up to the Crystal Mountain Ski Area for the final climb of the day.

6:05 AM and ready to head out...

By 6:05 AM we had our tires pumped up, the Garmins turned on, the sunscreen applied, food in our back pockets, and water bottle solutions mixed.  It was a little chilly, so most of us had on long sleeved t-shirts or arm warmers on in addition to our jerseys.  We headed out and visited/cruised our way up Cayuse Pass and on up to Chinook Pass.  We encountered very little traffic, and Leon said later that he felt we were riding faster than usual (which was probably the case considering the strong riders that comprised our group of seven).

Top of Chinook Pass...

Conor Collins on foot bridge at top of Chinook Pass...

At the top of Chinook Pass, we stopped for a couple of minutes, enjoyed the scenery (I love the top of Chinook), ate, and drank.  Soon, we were headed back down toward Cayuse Pass.  It became evident on this descent that the long sleeves, arm warmers, and/or vests had been a good idea.  We were on the chilly side on the way down to Cayuse and on down to the Sunrise turn off; but, with just a jersey on, it would have been miserable. 

Soon, we were passing the gate that marked the beginning of the 10 mile climb to the Sunrise Visitor Center.  Conor and Brent had been riding ahead of the rest of our group and were out of sight as we started the climb.  I was riding pretty briskly in hopes of catching a glimpse of them before they got too far up the road.  John Winter was riding with me during this early part of the climb.  Before long, I heard Connor Collins’ voice – coming up behind me!!  He and Brent had stopped at the base of the climb to take a leak in the trees.  Okay, so now I’ve been working hard to this point, John has stayed with me in a seemingly effortless manner, and Connor has caught up with me – and he’s not even breathing hard – it was evident that this was not going to end well for me (i.e. I was not going to be able to stay with those two all the way to the top).  After a quick calculation, my goal was to stick with them up to the second hairpin turn.  Because of low oxygen levels (it was all going to my legs), my brain wasn’t functioning very well; so I’m not exactly sure where I lost contact with those two, but I’m pretty sure it was before the second hairpin.

Not long after the second hairpin, I heard Brent Moody’s voice behind me.  Brent rode with me for a bit.  It was evident that he was feeling good, so I encouraged him to catch up with John who was still in sight ahead of us.  Brent took off and was riding with John by the third of this climb’s four hairpin turns.  I was still feeling good at this point – I just couldn’t go as fast as Conor, John, and Brent (not a big deal as this was more of an issue of them riding really well rather than me not riding well).  When I’m doing these long, tough climbs, I will often find myself counting pedal strokes to sort of help me maintain my pedaling rhythm as I begin to feel fatigued.  I was doing this between the second and fourth hairpin turns on this climb and counted 2400 pedal strokes (revolutions).  I lost count a couple of times, so I may have been off by a couple hundred; but accuracy was not my goal, and the counting really helped to maintain my cadence.  When I finally got to the Sunrise Visitor Center parking lot; John, Conor, and Brent were gathered together with John pointing at Mt. Rainier and talking to Conor.  I suspect that they were discussing the hike that John and Conor are planning to do to Camp Sherman on Mt. Rainier within the next week or two.

John pointing out Camp Sherman area of Mt. Rainier to Conor and Brent...

Sunrise Visitor Center and Mt. Rainier in background...

Once the rest of our group had joined us; we headed down the fun, fast, and twisting descent as a group.  I stayed at the back of the group taking video and really enjoyed watching the rest of our group sweeping down the mountain road.

Re-supplying at the vehicles before heading up to Crystal Mountain Ski Area...
Once down, we left the national park and headed back to our cars.  At the cars, we shed clothing (it was getting warm), refilled water bottles, restocked food supplies, and headed up the six mile climb to the Crystal Mountain Ski Area.  We were riding fairly quickly on this climb, but no one seemed phased by it as we were able to visit as we climbed.  Before long, we were at the ski area.  We had a group photo taken, took a swig from our water bottles, and sped back down the descent to our cars.

Brent, John, Les, Scott W., Conor, Leon, and Mike at the Crystal Mountain Ski Area...

Awesome weather, great group, and wonderful memories – can’t wait for the next ride – Windy Ridge (Mt. St. Helens).


Addendum by Brent Moody:

Thanks again for the ride. I'm still re-playing in my mind that I'm riding my bike up those passes.  I was so looking forward to this ride and getting to hang out with some of the best guys around for 4 hours. The day played out just like I imagined, great weather, perfect temp, we all had fun, caught up on past and current life events, and we were all healthy and still smiling at the end. I keep these fun times in my mind while traveling along with some of those pics to look back on. Only thing I wish I could have seen is that bull elk that the rest of you saw as we were heading up the Sunrise climb. I was too busy sweating it out and wondering how much longer to the top, lol. This is what life is about, great memories and experiencing an event that most people would only dream about.. it's good to be a Cyclopath!


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