Author: Leon Matz
My 2018 Ramrod was very different than any Ramrod I have done over the last 25 years. I hope to not repeat an adventure like I did this year in the future.
After biking 1,400 miles to Colorado Springs I sustained to leg issues that troubled me for nearly two weeks before I could get in a few training rides. I then went on a trip with Fran to Savannah, Georgia. We had a wonderful time, so wonderful that I gained 6 lbs . I then returned home 3 days before Ramrod, fat and out of shape!
Even though I was nervous about doing Ramrod, I went with the idea of riding with my Cyclopath buddies. I carried my own food and limiting the length of all my stops with the hope of keeping up with my friends.
As we approached Orting and the turn onto Orville Rd, I thought I noticed a slow leak in my front tire. 1/2 way through the turn; my tire totally lost pressure, and I went down sliding along the pavement edge! I was stunned but no broken bones. Dr. Les checked me over and made sure road rash was the only issue. All my Cyclopath buddies patiently waited for me to be checked out and get my tube changed! Lots of riders went streaming by except for Adam who caught up with us at that point. Soon we were back on the road. My hip and neck hurt and a headache soon joined me!
Going up Kapowsin hill I lost contact with the group, but they patiently waited for me at the top. As we approached Eatonville Mike Hassur and the group decided to do a quick stop. Mike Smith and I kept riding! We did most of the riding from here to the park entry by ourselves. We made a quick stop at Longmire for some water and back we went to climbing!
I was trying pretty hard but could tell my climbing speed was not like it usually is. About 1/2 way to Inspiration Point, John and Adam passed us with seemingly little effort.
Mike S. left me and went up the road. At Inspiration Point Mike Hassur and Les caught up with us, and we started to descend Stevens Canyon! Almost immediately, I started getting cramps in both legs in the inside of both Quads. I increased my drinking and tried to stretch and massage to get them to retreat. Why was I cramping on a descent?? Normally I never stop at the Box Canyon food stop, but we all did! I downed 5 Tums tablets, several bananas, some salt and Gatorade. Off we went and the cramps quickly returned. There were times when both legs would cramp at the same time, and it was very painful! At that time I talked to Mike H. about the sweeper vehicles. At that point I thought my day was going to be over. Mike H, Mike S, and Les left me at that point as I was riding very slowly! I tried to spin in an easy gear to remove the pressure on the leg muscles! I made it to the Backbone Ridge stop hoping for pickle juice or something to help with the cramps! A very nice lady gave me a small bottle of coconut water from her personal supplies! I asked about sweeper vehicles and found out there were 2 but both would not be through here for another 5-6 hours! So off I went praying for the best but fearing the worst!
It wasn’t long, and I was at the water stop at the beginning of Cayuse Pass. Again nothing for cramps other than water! The early part of the climb went fairly well as it was in the shade and not very steep. I had a stream of riders going by with #’s mostly 600 and 700 (young guys). Memories of most years here, I am the one passing others not being passed! Humbling, but I was grateful to still be riding! The coconut water seemed to rid me temporarily of the cramps! My climbing speed was not great, but I kept focusing on getting to the next water stop. When I made it there, they had no pickle juice but did have plenty of ice! I filled my bottles and my neck tube sock with ice and took off! Soon I found myself in a good rhythm and passing people who had passed me previously! My effort level was higher even though we were now out of the shade and into the blazing sun!
The next 4 miles were hard, but I felt more like my old self! At the top, I - once again - pleaded for pickle juice but with no luck! As I started to descend the cramps returned! No!!! Please go away!
Shortly I was pulling into the deli; and - YES - they had pickle juice! I downed three cups of it and had a sandwich that included pickles! I was surprised and pleased to see that both Mikes and Les were at the deli! I quickly gobbled my food down and filled my bottles. The thought of being able to ride with them to Enumclaw through the expected headwind was very appealing! As they mounted and started to head out, I grabbed my bike and tried to head out with them but my chain came off and by the time I reached 410 they were about 1/3 mile ahead! I tried to increase my effort to catch them but being too full of food and drink I could make no progress in catching them. Discouraged I tried to hold out hope that a group would go by that I could catch to perhaps catch up with them!
Oh, here comes a group! The rainbow jersey team! I psyched myself up to jump on the 4 person train but they were too fast for me! I, then, road probably 15 miles seeing no one!
Finally, a big group of 10 came by but again too fast for me!
Riding alone into the wind when you are this hot and tired is no fun! I tried to not get too discouraged ! I was grateful to not having any cramps since I left the deli!
With about 12 miles to Enumclaw I came around a corner and saw 3 people at the side of the road with 2 jerseys looking like our colors! Yes it was Mike H., Mike S., and Les! I waited for Smith to fix his blowout and then we headed down the road! I was so grateful to have found them! Even though I was very tired, I was overjoyed to be riding with them! When we arrived at the finish line, I was told we were in the top 125 to finish and the first double not triple digit numbers to come in!
I made it!
I was convinced 1/2 way through the ride that I was going to have to abandon the ride!
After two chocolate ice cream bars, 3 cookies and two juice cans, I staggered to
It had now been over 52 hours since the end of the ride, and I am still very tired and sore! I hope tonight I can sleep on my left side! My hip is still bothering me - pretty tender from the bruise and road rash!
I hope I don’t have another Ramrod like this one!