Wednesday, May 23, 2018

2018_05_19 The Alder Lake Loop with The Climb Option

Author:  Mike Hassur

The plan was to be on our bikes leaving Orting by 7:00 AM on Saturday morning.  My wife, Kathy, and I arrived home on a trip back from Tofino on Vancouver Island, BC at about 7:30 PM the night before after an 11.5 hour drive, ferry ride, congested border crossing, and even more congested romp through Seattle traffic.  We were exhausted and cranky (at least I was), and I was concerned about how much energy I would have left for our ride the next morning.  That's when it dawned on me that may van was not going to be available to drive to Orting the next morning.  We drove Kathy's car to Tofino, so I had the bright idea to leave my van with our mechanic for an oil change and tune up while we were gone.  Luckily for me, Kathy was kind enough to offer to drive me to Orting the next morning.

You never really know exactly how many people will show up for a ride; but from the RSVP's that I had received after sending out the ride reminder, I suspected that we would have 13-14 riders.  It ended up being 14.  We got started a little after 7:00 AM, and the temperature was nice (mid to high 50's).  It wasn't long before guys were peeling off layers of clothing.

There are actually 13 riders pictured (though it is difficult to see everyone) as we are leaving Orting...

Looking ahead as we approach the bridge that spans the Puyallup River...

...and now behind, Scott and Isaac with a rider or two hidden behind them...

With Adam, David, Erich, and Rob leading the way; it wasn't long before we were riding by the turn off to The Climb.  Les peeled off for a minute to drop off a water bottle for later, while Dwaine yelled "don't slow down - we'll catch back up"... and they did.

From there, it was up the hill to the four-way stop by the Kapowsin General Store where we turned left and headed along the west side of Lake Kapowsin toward Lake Ohop.  There was a lot of visiting on the way to Lake Ohop, but that didn't seem to effect the pace which remained brisk.

Soon, we were at the Lake Ohop "bathroom break area".  Leon, who had fallen behind figured that we would be waiting for him at the stop sign where Oreville Road meets the highway up into Eatonville.  He rode by the Lake Ohop area where we were taking a short break without noticing us.  When he arrived at the stop sign and didn't see us, he figured that we had gone ahead without him; so he headed up through Eatonville and proceeded toward Mt. Rainier.  That was the last we would see of Leon.

After a short break, our group took the Ohop Valley Road to where it met The Mountain Highway.  It was at this point that Rob Critchfield headed back due to a prior commitment, while the rest of us began the climb up to the Alder Lake Dam Overlook.  This part of the ride was sort of a blur for me.  I was trying to follow John Winter's wheel, and he was riding well (which is another way of saying that I was feeling oxygen deprived for much of that stretch).  Somewhere past La Granlde, I told John and Isaac (or was it Dwaine??) that I was going back to check on Les and Scott who were somewhere behind us.  I rode the rest of the way up with Les and Scott.  This is a fun climb; but, if you are trying to go fast, it can seem to go on forever!!

Alder Lake Dam Overlook: 
(L-R: Dwaine, Isaac, John, Nick, Scott, Les, Erich, David, and Adam)
(not pictured: Rob, Lanny, Leon, & Mike - taking photo)

Dwaine "photo-bombing" on the left...

After a short break for photos, food, drink, and removing layers of clothing; we headed to the Alder Lake Cutoff road and made our way back through Eatonville.  From there, we retraced our path past Lakes Ohop and Kapowsin to the turnoff to The Climb.  Everyone - except Lanny - opted to do The Climb (which adds 10 miles and 1,000' of climbing to our route).  Lanny's excuse - he was running 3 miles when he got back to Orting, AND he was doing a half-marathon the next day.  I, for one, thought that was a pretty good excuse.

The ride up The Climb was fun and uneventful except for the fact that it was beginning to rain when we arrived at the top.

At the top of The Climb... Dwaine (far left) once again "photo-bombing"...

It seemed like the rain increased on the way back down.  It was pretty warm, so getting cold wasn't much of a concern; but I had a nice little Sony camera in the back pocket of my jersey, and I didn't want it getting soaked.  Fortunately, the rain had subsided by the time we reached the bottom of The Climb, and it was not a factor during the rest of the ride back to Orting.

Speaking of the ride back to Orting, it was fun!!  We were in a paceline most of the way with David, Adam, Dwaine and Erich sharing the pace setting duties.  It was fast and left most of us with a "wow, that was great" feeling when finished in Orting.

Les and Dwaine packing up the bikes in Orting...

For those of you asking "do we have GoPro footage of parts of this ride" - of course we do.  The following link will take you to 36 minutes of video for this ride.  There's no music - just road noise, the clicking of shifters, and muffled background conversation.  Enjoy...

Our next scheduled ride is June 9th:  "The Skate Creek Loop".  Can't wait!!

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