OK before I recap the ride I need to address a couple of things! If you are a rider reading this before the 2019 or beyond ride remember 2 things!
1) Do NOT believe the weather forecast!!! Make sure to have rain gear in the car with you just in case!!
2) This route EATS tires! Have plenty of extra tubes, patch kits, pump and CO2 with you! Also your toughest tires!!
OK, so lets talk about the ride…
I signed up for this ride late. I decided it would be a good tune up ride for the Seattle to Portland coming up. And, I thought it would be a much faster drive to get there than last year…
Well 1 out of 2 aint bad….
I took off about 345. I had hoped for earlier but work prevented that. AND I had forgotten to get gas.
Little known fact outside the NW, you can’t pump your own gas in Oregon. And the attendants, aren’t always the fastest… I was finally heading north about 4:20. I got to my hotel right about 8 PM…
I knew going to I-5 and heading north through Portland to Kelso woulda sucked! Friday night rush hour. So I moseyed north along the coast and headed east from Astoria. It took over 3.5 hours, but there was no stress or grumpiness, I really like driving the coast.
Once there I had two errands. The first was to hit the pharmacy for some Claritin D. The ultimate allergy pill! In Oregon you need a prescription to buy it. NOT so in Washington. And since I still have a Washington Drivers license, I was soon all set up. Errand 2 was dinner. Taco Time took care of that! I was in bed at 930 ready for the ride.
Now, reading the beginning comments you might have had a bit of foreshadowing.
The weatherman called for sunny and 75. Perfect weather to ride from the town of Toutle to Johnston Ridge Mt St Helen’s observatory. Since it seemed so clear, I even left the rain gear at home. Stupid move.
When I went out to the car this morning it was misting. “What the hell is this??” I thought.
Then has I drove north it was real rain!! “SERIOUSLY???” I said aloud.
Luckily, to my right I saw a light rain shell I use here when it rains. It quickly went into my saddle bag for the bike.
Funny thing about this bag. Cyclist flip me crap for carrying on rides like this “Why add the extra weight!” they ask. One guy at packet pickup asked if I would carry his sandwich. “SURE!! But I promise you if I get hungry I am going to eat it!” But they are happy I do when I share what I carry when they need it.
After picking up the packet, I hear one of the volunteers say, “No worries! This will burn off in half an hour.” I thought to myself “HEY, he is a local! He must know…”
I took off with a light jacket and started the route right at 630. At about the 20 mile point a 7 mile climb starts. AND so did the heavy rain. I waited for a mile to see if it stopped, but no luck. I was damn lucky to have that rain shell! This ride has been known to give people hypothermia. Snow is NOT unheard of.
I was seeing some very wet people who also believed the forecast as I climbed. At the top, many of them were happy to see this.
Quite a few people huddled around the fire. I was happy as well, but I was happy because they had hot dogs on that grill, it hit the spot.
I head one person saying he was turning around and heading home. (Though later I saw him complete the whole route)
I myself considered it. Last year, from this spot I saw this.
But hell I drove 4 hours, It was only 15 more miles to go (Though there was a STEEP climb upcoming to the top) and I was warm. So I finished the hotdog, polished off two brownies and headed east.
I am not sure what is about this road, as said above, it was chewing up bike tubes right and left. Hardly a mile would pass without multiple people having flats. I believe in bike karma so I asked each one close to the road if they needed anything. One teen said yes he needed a pump so I stopped and handed him mine. Sadly his spare tube did NOT fit the rim, and I was going for a patch kit for the old tube when dad showed up.
He thanked me and sent me on my way.
30 minutes later, two older guys were stopped and had that “oh crap” look going. So I asked them as well. Sure enough, their pump broke while using it, and they were out of CO2. Once again, this time just 2 miles from the top, I stopped and handed it over. The bike karma must work though, I made it the whole 84 miles unscathed! NO FLATS!!
However, even though it warmed enough for my to take out the coats, the clouds never lifted. There should be a mountain behind me!
Last year I saw at least part of it on top
Though here is proof I really WAS at the top, elevation 4200 ft.
You might notice I busted out the RAMROD Jersey for this ride. That ride is 150 miles and 10000 feet of elevation and it tried to kill me! Wearing one of these does tend to elicit comments from time to time. When I went into the visitor center I heard a ranger quietly tell another, “RAMROD!! Impressive!!” Yes my chest might have puffed a bit!
Remember the sandwich guy? He caught to me a mile from the top. Behind me I heard! “Hey hand me my sandwich!!” “Sorry dude! I ate it 5 minutes ago, DAMN it was good! Shoulda been here ealier!” was my reply.
We leaped frogged each other the rest of the day and each time I heard “SANNNNDWHICCCCHHHHHH”
Afterwards he thanked me for making a hard wet ride more fun! He did make me laugh as well.
There were some strange and interesting comments today.
The kid with the flat: “I am glad the cycling community is friendlier than the gun community! No one in the gun community offers to help…” (I decided to leave that one alone.)
After I stopped to take these photos on the way back
A lady pulled up next to me and said, “Since we couldn’t see the mountain I wish we saw something else interesting, like a bear or Bigfoot!” Then she kept going…
Then, just before the big climb to the top, a lady who rode the whole thing in sandals said as we crossed the county line, “Skamania county: Nation wide, this county has more Bigfoot sightings than any other!” Then she added, “It also has the highest per capita Meth users. Not that these are related!”
OK I admit it, I laughed!
This ride was a constant adding and shucking of layers. There is a 5, a 7 and a 9 mile climb, and on most of them I needed to take off a coat or two as I got hot. But on each of the descents (same distances) I had to layer up to cut the fog, mist and cold! It was bit annoying!
Of course the last 15 miles the sun came out and it hit 70…
I am glad I stuck it out. Sometimes you ride for the views, sometimes for fun, and then, like today, it’s because you are there and you KNOW you can do it! It took 8 hours, including stopping to help others and to eat, but felt strong and really did enjoy myself!
I made the mistake of trying I-5 to go home! It was a dead stop. Luckily Siri took me all over hell and gone and me safe back to the ocean!