Author: Adam Abrams
I was excited when Leon asked me to ride RAMROD with him. It's a ride that I've know about for several years; but it's reputation for a long, hot, windy riding had me a little nervous. So I was grateful to have Leon's experience guiding me through the ride. My goals for the ride was were to simply to enjoy the experience, learn, and stay with Leon.
Based on my experience I've divided RAMROD into three sections. The first section runs from Enumclaw to the park entrance. This 60 mile section is comprised of mostly flats with a little bit of climbing. Leon's advice was to conserve energy and to look for a faster group to ride with and that's exactly what we did. Leon and I moved from group to group both of us testing our limits as faster groups came by. We used the faster groups to pick up some time and then pop off the back when the pace became too much. This approach worked great and left me feeling strong heading into the park.
The second section runs from the park entrance all the way to the top of Cayuse pass. I've nicknamed the section the "Cyclopath's Playground". This was my favorite part of the ride and where I felt the most at home. Leon's advice worked perfectly once again as we found a comfortable pace and slowly picked people off. There weren’t a lot of riders on the road, but we passed a few along the way and only got passed by three while on the climbs. The biggest surprise of the section was how well we climbed Cayuse pass. I've been told by many people how difficult the climb is during RAMROD, and I'd prepared myself for an hour of pain. To my surprise the climb went great. I don't know if it was the cooler weather or the pacing strategy, but I felt good all the way up.
The final section of the ride I decided to call "The long road to Enumclaw". It's funny how 110 mile and 9000’ of climbing can change your perspective on a ride. Going into the RAMROD I thought that 40+ miles of rolling downhill sounded like a fun way to end the ride. My opinion quickly changed after we hit our the first big gust of headwind. I soon found myself glued to my Garmin and wishing the miles would go by faster. This section was a lot harder than I expected. Despite the headwind, Leon and I worked together well; and about half way down, I saw a bike off in the distance. The hope that we might catch that rider was the motivation I needed to finish strong. It took a while but we finally caught that rider as we turned onto Mud Mountain Road. It was also on Mud Mountain Road that we saw the only other riders in this section. It was a group of four that went flying by. I put in one effort to try to catch them but quickly realized they were going faster than I wanted to and I happily let them go. After nine hours Leon and I ended the ride together feeling great about what we had just accomplished.