Saturday, July 29, 2017

2017_07_27 RAMROD (Leon and Adam)

Author:  Leon Matz

Ramrod 2017 Leon and Adam

Ramrod is always a big event for me each year.
After not getting in as a team, I was excited when Adam agreed to ride self supported!  My trip to Santa Barbara gave me a lot of endurance training but no LT climbing training like I would normally do preparing for Ramrod, so I was a little concerned about how it would go. Knowing that Adam is considerably stronger and faster than me, I let him know at any point he had my support to leave me and go!  He said he didn't plan to take off!  Needing to have someone to carry our needed food and bottles our own Conor Collins agreed to drive the route and meet us four times.
Adam picked me up at 4:25, and we headed to Enumclaw.  We parked, got ready, and left at 5:12.  As we road out of town, we were shocked at how many riders had already left and a significant number left even before the 5 start time.
We rode conservatively hoping for a big strong group to come by that we could jump on.
Descending into South Prairie, we saw Dr Nick who was wearing Cyclopath gear!
On my stem, I had marked out 10 mile increments with my times in 2011 and 2015. In 2011 Tom Peterson and I had a total time of 8:32 and the 9th and 10th persons to finish and alone on 2015 had a total time of 9:32 and 40th person in.  I was hoping to get a time under 9:00.
By the time we arrived at Lake Kapowsin, we were already 3 minutes behind the slowest year.  Without a big fast group to follow that trend may continue I thought. 
We joined some small groups but did not stress.
When we turned onto the highway to climb up to Eatonville, there were huge groups of people climbing up (rather slowly).  I took the opportunity and increased my effort and led Adam past probably 100 people.  Some of them were climbing really slow, and I wondered how they were ever going to complete the ride!
As we left town, the rain/mist greatly increased to the point that the tires were throwing up moisture behind us! 
Once we arrived at Alder Lake, I hoped we would find some groups; but it didn't happen. Just before Elbe, my wish came true!  Big group came whistling by!  Adam and I jumped on the train!  Wow was it going!  22-24 mph on a 1-2 % grade!  I was working real hard to just stay on board!  To make this kind of progress was fantastic but at what cost. After about 8 miles of this pace, we came to a set of railroad tracks and the gap to the next rider became too much.  I fell back in the group to one of the last 3 riders.  I hung on for another mile or so; but when the rider in front of me lost contact to the group, the ride was over for me on this train!
I paired up with another rider and worked our way towards Ashford (at a much slower speed).  Adam was clearly fast and strong enough to stay with that group.  I was resigned to the fact that I probably would not see him until the finish line.  As we approached Ashford, Adam was waiting there for me!  What a guy!!!
At the first food stop, almost everyone stopped; but we kept riding to Kautz Creek where Conor would be waiting!  While we were restocking two big groups went by but no sign of Les or Scott Wagar.  Conor said they went by about 10 minutes ago. 
Back on the bikes, we increased our effort a little but saw few people in front and none behind.  Last year, the park service paved the road from entry to Longmire; and this year they paved the uphill lane all the way to Stevens Canyon turnoff!  Wonderful!  The climb went smoothly with not one person passing us!  The climb finished earlier than I expected it to! 
We met Conor at Reflection Lake for a quick stop. Les and Scott were about 5 minutes ahead according to Conor!
The descent went quicklyl  We didn't go as fast as normal. since we had heard from several sources that park rangers were targeting cyclists going over the speed limit!  The climb up Backbone Ridge went well again no one passing us!  I had a few cramp problems in my right inside quad; but, otherwise, things were going well. 
When we arrived at the restrooms at Grove of the a Patriarchs, Scott had gone by and Les passed us as we were refueling.  I made sure I took some pickle juice and took with me a container of the HotShot ( a anti-cramping product). We took off as quickly as we could hoping we could catch up with both of them and ride as foursome into Enumclaw.
It took us awhile, but we finally caught Les.  Since Les planned to stop at the Deli, the plan to ride together would not work; so on Adam and I rode!  In years past, the Cayuse Pass climb was always really hot and hard!  The cooler temperatures and the smooth pace we were doing worked well.  A couple miles from the top we finally caught Scott who you could tell was in a lot of pain!  We exchanged pleasantries, and headed on and up!  I kept thinking where is everyone!  I finally asked one of the workers and was pleasantly surprised that only about 10-12 riders had gone through.  Wow the masses are behind us!
As we approached the top, I felt better than I ever had!  Our time up was 5 minutes slower than my 2011 time, but we were not suffering like I normally do.  I would have been fine with heading up to Chinook Pass.
At the Sunrise turnoff, Conor was waiting for our last stop!  We headed out to the bottom of the climb; but, strangely, my cramping problem reoccurred. Why on a descent???  I took the hot shot; and, finally, the problem went away for good.  Adam was very patient with my problems!
We went mile upon mile with no one in front or behind!  Adam led most of the time and escorted us along!  At one point, he shared he had to pee but didn't want me to have to wait. The solution - he road real fast ahead, stopped, and then caught back up to me!  Amazing speed after 125 miles. 
We finally reached the long straight away before the Mud Mountain Dam turn!  I always cherish that spot, because I know not much farther!  However, I then noticed a group coming up behind us!  It turned out to be a foursome!  Needless to say four are much stronger than 1 1/2. Me being the half and Adam 1 . Again. Adam could have easily joined them; but he stuck by this old guy!  We descended carefully as the road is really rutted!  The foursome that had passed us had a near accident and had stopped. We went by and headed to the finish line!  Tired, but not exhausted; we approached the last 1/2 mile only to be passed by 3 of the foursome! 
After the finish, I went back and asked how many were in.  Adam and I were 12 and 13 out of 800.  I was the only one over 50 in!  Total time was 9:01.30 and 17.mph!  
It was a strange Ramrod!  Super weather, so many people starting real early, smooth roads, few fast climbers.  Adam clearly could have finished 20-30 minutes faster but chose to escort this old guy around the course!  What a wonderful Cyclopath!
At 66, to be able to finish that high is a great feeling!  Thanks to Adam, Conor, and all of you that have rode with me this year.

Adam and Leon after RAMROD 2017

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