Author: Nick Iverson
This year, even as a recently retired physician, my schedule of birthdays, more birthdays, baby sitting, visiting grandchildren, and weather have made it difficult to ride with the Cyclopaths on “official” rides. Being on the waiting list for the Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day (RAMROD), and having survived my 72d birthday, has kept me in training in the mountains, albeit mostly alone.
The mountain rides have been several trips up Mt. Rainier: one from Ashford then another from Elbe where I was surrounded at the Paradise parking lot as a Celebrity Cyclopath by a bunch of students who had just returned from a hike up the Mountain. Subsequently I rode with a friend up almost to Sunrise until the snow, then going down to Crystal Mountain Blvd. to ride to the Ski area. The 45 mph descent was awesome. My last trip was a solo Skate Creek Loop ride, starting with a trip up to Paradise.
With a gradual weight loss, using the Dr.. Iverson technique: “no white foods except cauliflower” has promoted good nutrition and eliminated as much sugar as possible from my diet. Having preached this formula to patients for over forty-one years, the minimal change was simple, but…. I LOVE SUGAR!! I walk by the sweet stuff in the grocery stores with a full stomach, and took a special formulated product, not available in stores, but if you called 888-Get Thin, between the hours of 1 AM and 1:01 AM January 32, 2017, you could have purchased the formula, guaranteed to help with your weight for the rest of your life. OBECAL-P!!! You got three bottles (1,000 doses) for the price of five, plus a couple hundred dollars in handling fees. The secret?... The product is placebo spelled backwards, and each dose contains the message: “Do More and Eat Less. Maintain Discipline!”
I digress. June 10th was a scheduled ride I love: The Skate Creek Loop. The weather report for that Saturday looked cold and rainy/snowy and the ride was postponed. The result prompted me to ride at the end of a warm stretch of weather on June 7, three days before the scheduled ride. The ride is from WA 7 at the turn off to Skate Creek Road, (On our bikes at 5 AM!) up to Paradise (I love that climb), then descend past Reflection Lakes (still covered with snow), a quick stop at the hair pin curve for a Photo op, then on to Ohanapecosh with a short speed bump over Backbone Ridge. No, this is NOT a mountain pass. Then the most glorious descent of the ride winds down as fast as possible, ending near the Grove of the Patriarchs. After the initial smooth portion of the Stevens Canyon descent, the road is a little sketchy, and riding alone, I did not feel comfortable at full speed, but two quick stops for Photos, gazing up and across the Canyon to see the road already descended, and looking backward to see the Mountain (which is not seen unless one rides backwards or stops to look), made the descent much more glorious, and the small waterfalls on the left provided an almost mystical music of nature. Only a bicyclist has the opportunity to hear these sounds, smell the clear air and the perfume of the trees and flowers. There was enough snow and run-off that there was some rivulets crossing the road, which was another reason to be careful; however, past Backbone Ridge—no brains and no brakes!
|View from Kautz Creek...|
|Just past Longmire...|
As an aside, there was a decision point regarding continuing the ride, as there had been a power outage at the Visitor Center at Paradise, and I did not have enough calories packed to get to Packwood. After sitting across from the empty food line, and having squeezed past the barrier to this area, I kept pestering the fellow who runs that food service, and he said, “Weren’t you up here last week?” I said I had been up twice. Using some cash, he was able to let me buy some Gatorade and salty potato chips, to replenish the fluids, as the day was quite warm, and I had intentionally polished off both bike bottles on the ascent. The ride was a go.
|View from hairpin turn just above Stevens Canyon...|
|Stevens Canyon Road...|
Continuing down WA 123 until Hwy 12 was amazing, with temperatures rising to be HOT, but this stretch is surrounded by trees, which helps keep the temperature down a little, and I rode this short distance with only one car passing me until reaching the “T” in the road. At this point I drank most of the fluids remaining, as the trip to Packwood was going to be hot and into the usual headwind. Knowing that there was not going to be a paceline of Cyclopath riders or Rob C., to blast into the wind, I needed to conserve energy, but eventually I saw the sign “Welcome to Packwood.” At the Mobil Gas station off Skate Creek, I stopped for about 20 minutes, ate as much as possible, and gabbed with the gentleman running the station, and a motorcyclist who happened in. “You are riding around this trip on a BICYCLE!!” Sure, why not. “MUCH quieter than your HOG,” I said to myself.
Recovered, and fueled up, I stuffed my undershirt under my short sleeve jersey along with my light jacket I took just in case, as I still had 24 hot miles to go to get back to my car, hoping that the windows would not be bashed in. By this time, it was rush hour, and there were at least TEN cars coming toward me, and three or four pickup trucks passed me on the climb. Each truck waited to be just along side of me to stomp on the accelerator (the diesel pedal) to be as obnoxious as possible. Apart from those 13 or fourteen vehicles, I rode the 24 miles with the Skate Creek to my right, and the road had been patched, making the trip up and over in a PR for me. The quiet ride up the ascent is meditative. Other than the problem with my new cassette, chain and shifters not working properly, the ride was wonderful. I wound up doing the entire climb in the big ring in the front, as this minimized the self-shifting cassette. Amazingly, the weight loss this year allowed me to get up and over the top feeling quite well. The spin back to the car was a little unnerving, being alone, and dodging a few potholes. At the car all of the windows were intact!!