Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day (RAMROD)
10,138 feet elevation
10:04 moving time; 11:33 elapsed time
15.7 mph average; 139bpm average
I’d been wanting to do this ride for years and decided this summer after putting a bit more time in on the bike than usual that it was time to fire it up. I drove down to Enumclaw early, packing up with a small running backpack full of food and some extra layers and leaving the car at 6:30am.
The first bit is on busy roads and I missed a turn near Buckley, not realizing I’d gone as far as I had. After a brief detour, I was back on track at South Prairie. The long southbound section was rolling and fun. I stopped every so often to eat an old-fashioned doughnut from my backpack, which was a great source of simple sugar and calories. With early-morning cloud cover, things stayed cool for this whole section. I made it to Eatonville in about 2h20m where I took off my knee and arm warmers.
The sun was out now and the riding was great with a nice, steady uphill to the park entrance. In Ashford, I made a stop at a gas station to load up on Gatorade, Snickers, a Coke, and an ice cream bar. I zoomed past a huge line of cars on my way into the park and then enjoyed the awesome, switchbacking road up to Paradise. I took the climb at a measured pace, knowing I would only be halfway through the day by the time I made it there. A few cyclists doing a shorter day slowly came around me at one point and I had to keep myself from following them.
I took a break at Paradise after 6 hours on the move, eating a big sandwich and putting down a whole bunch of water with Nuun in it while chatting up folks who wanted to know what I was doing up there. Then it was time for the descent! Oh, boy. None of the turns were terribly sharp, so it was really fun to just open it up. I had forgotten that there was an intermediate climb coming around the ridge before finishing the descent to Route 123 and it was a bit demoralizing, but not terrible.
From the valley, I knew one last climb would get me to the point where the final 40 miles would all be downhill. At this point, it was downright hot in the sun and I was not feeling as strong. I ground out the climb, taking one appreciable break in a rare shady spot to cool myself down and eat most of my remaining calories. I made it to the top of Cayuse Pass in a little over 9 hours of elapsed time since I’d started.
I briefly celebrated and then started enjoying the long downhill, which started out relatively steeply and then eased off to the point where it felt like the downhill equivalent of a false flat. I made one last stop in Greenwater for more drinks and calories, then motored on to the finish, arriving right around 6pm.