Posted by: angrybeesound | September 25, 2008

RAMROD

RAMROD, Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day, is one of the redmond cycling clubs big ride of the year. it happened on july 31th, i was there. this was the last big ride i would do this year on martel, my look.

as you can guess, riders completely circumnavigate the highest peak in the state of washington. it is the biggest, baddest ride (not race) in the state that i know of. 154 miles of riding, 10,000 feet of climbing (13,000 garmin feet)

i stayed the night before the ride at keiths (hes famous) as i know that if left to my own devices i would sleep through, or shut off any alarm at 3 am. we drove down to enumclaw a place of dubious fame. it was cold, the car thermometer said 46, i really didnt think it would be cold. 2 weeks prior was the death ride and i just associated this ride having the same hot weather.

did the normal registration jazz, ramrod is a little different because it is a very sought after registration, they wanted id and the email confirmation.

me and keith in the morning, early fooking morning.

we were riding loosely with another guy, kevin, hed finished ironman at lake placid a few days before. he is the only person i know with 650 cc tires on a road bike. this was an issue with the 2 flats he had BEFORE the ride even STARTED. he rode without a spare for the whole day.

the ride is on a thursday by order of the park service, the ride is also limited to 800 riders by the same authority. they give out 840 numbers figuring on 40 no shows on day of. seems some other people cant be left to their own devices with waking up either. the bib numbers are given to selected riders based on age, 1 being the oldest, i was 827, so only 13 people older than me had numbers for the ride. im not that young, being that high a number surprised me. lots of people in their 50s and 60s ride this ride EVERY year, i think the oldest this year was 74. i hope im able to do ramrod when im in my 70s.

the ride starts off like all big riders where there is an organized start line- non rotating pacelines, lead by some hammerhead. youll get flown by by a group of 40, but then your group of 40 latches on to the end and soon you are passing the same people you flew by, its kinda dumb, but its a quick way to eat up some miles on the rollers.

sun is up, mountain has a helmet

the sun comes up but the air is heavy with moisture in the valleys and along the streams so the appearance of the ball of plasma doesnt equate with instant warmth. it was like turning on an easy bake oven, you see it is on, but you dont really feel it.

up until mile 40 youre riding the prelims, short little up and down rollers, there is a left turn at elbe where you get to see some steep. the group spreads out as some want to be the first to the top, others want to sip on what is in their legs. first water stop is in the sun, the mechanic has no 650 tubes, we laugh at kevin, point out glass on the road to him.

soon you enter the park and the climbing starts in earnest.

the trees making up the sign are HUGE

the funny thing is as soon as i took this picture i hit a chuck hole ( because i was looking RIGHT AT cause im dumb) and almost fell down, the lady behind me was caught between stifling a laugh and applauding my no hands recovery.

on miles 30-75 you climb 4,500 feet. never steep climbing but constantly a slight incline. i was in a funk in the early stages of this pitch and didnt climb real well. if you keep telling yourself you might be in a bad mood eventually you are in a bad mood, and i was cold, my little jacket didnt do enough in the sub 50 temps with a jersey under.

all the normal tricks to lighten my mood didnt work. so i just looked 4 feet ahead of me and let people pass me. as i was pulling out of a food stop keith caught up and we rode together for a bit. we dont really ride together on bigger rides, we each find people our own pace. eventually i found a pace some people and lightened up. this was the last time i saw keith for the day. with scenery like this it is hard to stay in a funk for long.

vaguely the way we came up…i think, least thats the road i was just on

mountain dressed up for us.

the goal of the first climb is paradise, but you skirt it on the ride. since ramrod ive gone back to paradise and i climbed it alot better. it really paradise, it is a series of high meadows on the shoulders of the mountain, truly a really nice place. i has the same kind of quiet that crater lake has.

this was the water stop at the ‘top’

WEEE

there is a 10 mile descent, which gets cut into pieces by a full fledged food stop. there were some great chocolate croissants, man they were good. i got an evil eye after i had my 3rd and 4th.

at the bottom is the bullshyt pass ~800 feet in under 3 miles, for me this was the least fun part of the day. after that you get some really nice downhills, some twists and switchback that you can take with no brakes.

then you take a turn and head up the 2nd and last pass of the day, cayuse. 10 miles and 2,500 feet cayuse is steeper than the climb to to paradise, later in the day i bet cayuse is hot. i hit it early enough that the cold air i hadnt been a fan of earlier was still delaying the heat of the day.

i caught up with rider 0, he wasnt the oldest, but he is the registrar, ramrod is HIS ride. he gets to pick his own number. in the opening stages of cayuse i rode with him and a sir rider, and former marine. we got bunched up with some road work and i caught up with two riders id ride with on and off for the rest of the day, i forget names, but i want to say justin, one had a disc equipped lemond. this road took a shalaking in 06 and some of the road work was ongoing, some gravel patches, but thankfully they were all going uphill. these are going to be nice pavement in the future.

at the top it is supposed to be downhill for the rest of the day, and it is. but there is a catch, wind.

getting good at these over the shoulder shots.

the lunch stop happens after the big open pare of the downhill. it is the type of downhill that even with the wind you push into because you had just climbed for 10 miles and you want to reap some reward in the currency of speed and thrill. even if that effort costs you later. the lunch stop was good, cold coke and sandwiches, buckets of chips too. i ♥ dorritos.

i head out after the lunch stop alone, thinking ill find a group to ride with soon. i dont, i pick up an old timer, who doesnt talk and just wants to sit on the wheel of a tall rider. 10 miles pass with no one, then the cross biker and his friend come by, we add a rider here and there as we pass them, and soon there are 7 of us work pretty well. a nice low key group, pulling what you felt you had. when the old guy came to the front he pulled for 1 mile then disappeared; i felt kinda bad.

the turns on mud dam road are fun, we all took them wide using way more than our half of the road. someone asks if the road is closed going to the other direction…i had assumed it was.

when we get back to town we get preferential treatment by the cops at intersections, with us not having to stop. then it is ice cream and hand full of chips time.

i set up a chair and wait for keith, seeing dozens of riders go by, cheering when im not eating chips and slurping coke. watching people come in is fun. kinda like a scene from a WWII movie when you see the mechanics counting the bombers after a mission bombing the nazis. people come in alone, in pairs, large groups. some come in looking triumphant, some broken just wanting it to be over.

i didnt ride my best, but ill be back, assuming i get in.

by the numbers

Total Time (h:m:s) 10:21:10 4:10 pace
Moving Time (h:m:s) 9:03:32 3:39 pace
Distance (mi ) 148.87
Moving Speed (mph) 16.4 avg. 44.0 max.
Elevation Gain (ft) +13,047 / -13,047

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Responses

  1. this post really makes me want to do one of those big road rides. Usually it doesnt really sound like fun to pay money to ride on a road I could ride on for free… but now I kinda get it. It may have been the mention of doritos that changed my mind.

  2. […] a group 30, only to be passed by another group of 50, onto which your group would grab hold of. my RAMROD buddy, multiple ironman finisher and 650 cc tire riding buddy kevin was on the ride. we tried to […]


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