Monday, 16 June 2008

Permanently RAMRODed

Among the ever expanding list of riding opportunities offered by SIR is a Permanent (a brevet that can be ridden at any time) that cover the RAMROD route. Mark Thomas felt a need to ride that route and put a call out to any interested parties earlier in the week. Friday afternoon I was finally feeling confident enough in the weather forecasts to call and say Robin and I would join him. With a 4-day mountain pass tour coming up and a lack of climbing in my legs I needed a big ride day. Robin and I had ridden the newly opened Stevens Canyon road up to Paradise 2 weeks before along with 2 of his co-workers and the girlfriend of one. We got drenched. Of course that was one of the few nice Saturdays we'd had in these parts this year but Mt. Rainier is a law unto itself when in comes to weather and it made sure we knew it that day.

I guess we paid our dues on the Stevens Canyon day because, although thick dark clouds loomed as we drove to Enumclaw we were not long on the road before large patches of blue took over and even more quickly gave way to all out blue sky and warm sun. 6 of us rode together out of Enumclaw: me and Robin, Mark T, Mark Roberts, Steve Davis, and Rick Blacker. Wait a minute - looks like Amy and her boyz ride again! As we approached Ashford magnificent Mt. Rainier towered over us with her glacier and snow covered flanks contrasting sharply with the tree covered lowlands and bright blue skies. Wow!

Mark driving towards dark clouds.

Relaxing in Ashford. Rick is feeling groovy.

After entering Mt. Rainier National Park we all settled into our own climbing pace enjoying the beautiful scenery and low traffic. Snow was in evidence even a the lowest elevations due to the huge snowpack this winter and the 2-3 feet added just the weekend before.

Rick enjoying the views. Tatoosh Range from Paradise

Avalanche path in Stevens Canyon

Steve waiting for the group before the climb up Cayuse.

Grove of the Patriachs

A quick descent of Stevens Canyon soon immersed us once again in the joys of climbing. I, however, wasn't quite so joyful as on the earlier climbs of the day. My legs were tired and by back getting tight but luckily the mountain continued to treat us to her show of natural wonders. At my much slower pace I enjoyed the numerous water falls, forest smells, chipmunk antics, and several glacier lillies. Mark T and I were the last to summit Cayuse Pass and I was pleasantly surprised to see the rest of the posse waiting with patience (and a chill) for our arrival. Back on with the extra clothes and a charge down to Greenwater for our penultimate control of the day. Despite the dropping temperatures a little celebratory ice cream hit the spot before we made a six bike paceline charge back to Enumclaw.

Mark T and Amy at the Grove of the Patriachs - last climb still to come.

What a terrific day and what a tip top way to experience my first Permanent. Thanks to my fun, patient, and most importantly STRONG riding companions.


Mark said...

A beautiful day. And we were on our bikes.


Robert H said...

I've been wanting to do this ride actually. I was sad that you all were tackling it on a weekend that I already had plans on.

Great ride report!