Back in 2007 our buddy Mountainstroh stored his crampons, lost his glacier glasses and hung up his ice-axe. Like an old west sheriff, he reached the time to retire. Going strictly on my won/loss record (or summit/no summit) I was a dismal 2 and 6 over 12 years, with the only real summits reached being Mt Baker and Mt St Helens.
Starting in 2008, the challenge shifted to 2 wheels instead of plastic boots, and roadways instead of glaciers. In the last 7 years and 20000 miles I have yet not to succeed. Yep, undefeated. This week will put that record to the test…
Yep, boys and girls, after 4 years of trying to get in, and untold hours in the saddle preparing, Thursday is the RAMROD! Otherwise known as Ride Around Mt Rainier in One Day. The Mother Bear of all rides in Washington.
By the numbers it is:
- 1 mountain
- 150 miles
- 800 riders
- 10000 ft of climbing (Remember Mt Baker? That is 10000 feet tall
All in 15 hours!
The elevation diagram is a bit intimidating.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t nervous.
I do have a few things going for me.
First: 150 miles in 15 hours is 10 miles an hour. Now I am NOT the fastest cowboy in town, never will be. However, in all my rides, even those with the toughest climbs, Crater Lake Century and High Pass Challenge, I have ended up with an average speed of 12.5 miles an hour.
Slow yes, but considering going up hill I am lucky to hit 8 miles an hour, it makes sense.
Second: I am a great climber! One of the benefits of all the years in the mountains is I know how to get my ass from the bottom to the top without expending too much energy. I put the bike into the second to the lowest gear (saving granny low for the last push if needed), keep my butt on the seat and grind it to the top.
Third: I am a fearless downhiller. “Let er buck!” has been known to be shouted as I reach the top and turn the bike loose. Mile upon mile at 35 MPH quickly makes up for the miles at 8! And I am not exaggerating, there will be multiple miles without my needing to turn a pedal.
Fourth: My bike is built for this. I do not have a triathlon nor a racing bike. I have a Tri-Cross. I like to describe it as part way between a mountain and a road bike. I have a bigger cassette in the back
to help with the climbs, and slightly bigger tires to deal with the rougher roads you find in the mountains. It (and I) can take the punishment.
Fifth: I have been able to train in Mt Rainier! I know the roads, I know the climbs, and I have done most of these (and some harder ones) already this year. The biggest advantage for me is mental. As I am slogging along, I KNOW where the top is and how close I am to reaching it. There is nothing tougher (at least for me) to me on an ugly climb and just not knowing where the top is.
Finally, and most importantly: I am just plain stubborn and NOT that smart. Once I start, I just point my nose in the right direction, stop only long enough to refill the water bottles and grab food, and keep those legs going. I am not out for a speed record, nor would I be ashamed to be the the 2015 Lanterne Rouge (last man to cross the finish line). The goal is simply to start at 5 AM and finish the course by 8 PM!
Given all this, YES I am nervous, but I expected to me a LOT more so at this time. It’s not cocky, but I am as prepared as I can be. It’s now up to the cycling and mountain gods. That and some final preventative maintenance this weekend!
So, Wednesday night I will be crashing early at the Auburn Travelodge. Getting up at 330 AM, At the course by 4:30 and ready to go!
Y’all know I will share the results!