Up at 3:50 AM, got dressed, quick glass of chocolate milk (large), reviewed my list of items needed for a bike ride to make sure that I had gotten everything in the van the night before, and walked out the front door to see - RAIN!! Oh well, we weren't starting this ride from Puyallup. The starting point was in the mountains and the weather forecast continued to show a low chance of rain where we planned to ride (which was the 10 mile climb to the Sunrise Visitor Center on Mt. Rainier).
I hadn't gone even a mile when I received a text (at 4:45 AM) from Nick Iverson that said "It's raining". I responded that the weather forecast continued to look good. I drove on, and it continued to rain - through Sumner, Bonney Lake, Buckley... as I was passing through Enumclaw (in the rain) I received a phone call from John Winter. He was concerned about the rain and wondered if we were still going. I responded that I was already in Enumclaw, that it was still raining, and that the weather forecasts blah, blah, blah.
|5:10 AM above Enumclaw near the Mud Mtn. turnoff from hwy 410 - still raining...|
By the time, I got to Greenwater - still in the rain - my confidence was slightly shaken. When I finally got to the starting point of our ride at 6:15 AM, I found - DRY ROADS!! It was misting slightly, but this was trending in the right direction.
Soon the other guys started arriving and unpacking their bikes. We were on the road by 6:40 AM heading up the climb to Sunrise and into the mist...
|Kyle, David, Scott, and Dwaine getting ready...|
|Nick Moffitt unloading his gear...|
|6:45 AM: Some of the group heading up into the mist early on our first ascent of the day...|
Our first time up this 10 mile climb went well. We visited and kept up a pretty good pace as we climbed. The temperature was in the mid-40's when we started the climb and things got cooler as we got higher. We had no problem staying warm, because we were working fairly hard and generating a lot of heat. By the time we got up to the Sunrise Visitor Center, it was cold (34 degrees), and we were a little damp due to the light mist.
|Mt. Rainier shrouded in clouds as seen from the empty parking lot of the Sunrise Visitor Center...|
|Sunrise Visitor Center - no cars allowed up here until June 28th...|
After a brief stop in the parking lot of the visitor center, we were getting cold as we started the long descent back to our vehicles. The official opening for cars on this road to Sunrise isn't until June 28th this year, so we had the road all to ourselves. The descent was really fast and COLD; but, with no traffic to worry about, it was still fun.
We arrived back at our cars, restocked with food and drink, put on some warmer clothing (at least, I did) and headed back up for our second time up of the day. By this time, it was getting warmer; and the mist was pretty much gone. I think that it was this second trip up where we encountered a bear about half way up. Kyle was riding a little ahead of the group when he looked up and saw a bear by the side of the road about 30-40 feet in front of him. Thankfully, the bear moved into the trees a little way. We stopped, briefly, to gawk and take a few photos.
The descent on this second trip was noticeably warmer. We really enjoyed flying down the road through the curves and not being uncomfortably cold.
We ended up doing this climb four times which was a first. David Crawford, whose goal was to get in at least 10,000' of climbing ended up with 11,316', while the rest of us were in the 9,000' range.
|Martin, David, Scott, Dwaine, Mike, and Les at Sunrise Point (4th time up)... (photo by Park Ranger)|
This turned out to be a great ride. This climb (and descent) is always spectacular, and the weather just got better and better through the course of the ride. Most importantly, we had a really enjoyable group of riders (Nick Iverson, Nick Moffitt, John Winter, Les Becker, David Crawford, Dwaine Trummert, Scott Wagar, Martin Katzberg, and Kyle - sorry, Kyle, I don't know your last name yet). That would be an enjoyable group with whom to ride be it on The Climb or this climb to Sunrise.
Our next scheduled ride is in two weeks. It is listed as "Triple-ByPass". There is some road work on that route, and we may have to change the ride... so I'll keep you posted.