A great route, good friends, all damn day, nice weather, what could possibly be better? That's rhetorical, the answer is not much.
Thanks to Aaron Griffith who got the ball rolling on this eight of us showed up at the Crystal Mountain turn off from Hwy 410 at 8:00 AM ready to log some serious miles in the mountains. IN attendance were Neal Goldberg, Audrey Baldessari, Jesse Nofziger, Alex Telitsine, my old friend John Ospina and two of Jesse's friends (Nick - who had just done an Iron Man distance tri 11 days ago and then won a sprint tri the following weekend(!) and Bryen Graver who happens to be the son of a guy I race on the dirt).
In spite of the fact the sun was shining it was freaking freezing out. Like 41 degrees freezing. I knew it was going to warm up tons so everyone tried to walk the line between not turning into a popsicle at the beginning and having enough pocket space to stash all the clothes we knew were coming off later in the day. Some were braver than others.
We rolled out and Aaron went to the front. By the time we turned off to head up to Sunrise we had already lost one person. Aaron kept up the pace as the climb started and Alex soon took over. I joked that he was probably going for some power/Strava goal (and sure enough at the top he said that he was just barely over one hour for the climb which is a pretty good time). With about two or three miles left I had to let him go to save myself and he slowly rode away.
That's when I started to look around and remembered whey I come here.
Other than the descent from Paradise down the west side of the mountain where you are pretty much guaranteed to encounter loads of traffic this ride down from Sunrise ranks right up there. At the top you have a few giant switchbacks and then at the bottom you are diving left and right around banked corners. I just LOVE that. With no cars today it did not disappoint.
Heading up Cayuse we lost two more in spite of a much more moderate pace and then Aaron had some knee pain so had to pull the plug. It was the intelligent thing to do but I know it was a really difficult decision for him to make and I felt very bad. So by the time we got to the descent of Cayuse it was down to just Jesse, John, Alex Bryen and me.
On the upside it was finally warming up and on this descent I did not need my knee warmers, wind vest or gloves! My pockets were already filling up…
We stopped at the entrance to Stevens Canyon for a bite and to top off our bottles and then pretty much right away we encountered dirt! Turns out the Park Service is in the midst of a road rehabilitation project to prevent the creep which results in the cracks you always see.
At first I was wondering if this would slow us down but the dirt surface was nice and firm and no problem at all to ride. In fact, it was kind of fun.
After some chit chat the pace slowly picked up again and the group got strung out with Alex leading once again. I was the last to stay with him but then at Reflection Lakes - which were still totally covered in snow - I had to get off and stretch my back. At least it made for another photo opportunity.
I rode the last three miles alone at a comfortable pace and then we regrouped at the Paradise lodge for lunch. It was beautiful so I set up camp outside.
I was carrying plenty of food with me so just hung out on the bench for a while and enjoyed the views of incredibly well equipped tourists getting ready to hike in the snow. It seems you can't step foot on the stuff without massive boots, long pants, uber tall gators, long sleeves, a hat with a sun flap in back, full finger gloves and trekking poles. And don't forget the seriously dark sunglasses. Obviously the climb had not put a dent in my attitude… :(
Coming down from Paradise is usually a blast as the road near the top is one-way so no oncoming traffic but on this day there were so many people up here that not only were all the parking lots full but cars were parked on the shoulder for about 300 m down this road. Needless to say there were lots of cars on the road as well. And suddenly I was freezing again! Not sure if it was the snow walls we were riding next to or what but that two mile stretch had me positively shaking and it did not get better until I had to pedal.
Luckily that was the last time we got cold and it was nice and warm the rest of the way back to the car. It wasn't even too hot, just perfect really.
On the way down we encountered the dirt again. Surprisingly I was able to ride it MUCH faster than all of these massive SUVs. In fact, I had to pass about 10 of them as they would slow to a crawl each time they approached a dirt section?! At the bottom we stopped for water one last time and then headed up Cayuse.
This climb is usually never easy unless you approach it really fresh. We were not very fresh today. Once again Alex set the pace but then after a couple of miles he pulled over and let me lead and this time we finished together. My legs were tired but not exploding. I did have to sit up a few times on the flatter corners to stretch but otherwise I felt reasonable. What a relief.
We regrouped at the top and then headed down.
I had told everyone we were going to sprint for the park entrance and they remembered! Jesse led it out from waaaaay far away and I was positive I was going to win but started from too far back and did not anticipate the sprint soon enough (you only see the arch with about 150 m to go) so finished second just barely ahead of John. Nice job Jesse!
What a great ride! What a long ride! What a tiring ride! I love the Pacific Northwest.
Just yesterday I figured out how to add a second bike profile to my Garmin Edge 500 so I added one for my new mountain bike. My mountain bike has no power meter so when I switched back I unfortunately forgot to pair it at the start and so rode about 75% of this ride not recording power. :( See my average power below.
Here are all the pictures and video.
|5:00 AM - 2 bananas, 1 scoop protein powder, walnuts, water
|2 large bottles each w/3 scoops Perpetuem, 6 Perpetuem Solids, half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, 3 Odwalla bars, 3 gels, 6 Endurolytes, 3 large bottles of water
|I had to stop and stretch my back once going up to Paradise but it was manageable.
|Time of Day
|low 40s to upper 60s, sunny, dry, light breeze
|Ti Cycles Hyak
|knit shoe covers, knee warmers, bib shorts, Craft short sleeve undershirt, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, wind vest, Polypropylene gloves, cap