2011 RAMROP—Ride Around Mount Rainier In One Piece

After five hours of sleep, woke at 3:28a, drove about as far as I hit a driver down the hill to Danos at 4:00a, and arrived at Enumclaw High an hour later.

Cloudless and weirdly light given the sliver of a moon. High 40’s, maybe 50. End of life turtle neck base layer under the jersey, $5 full-fingered running gloves. Dano, who claims he’s from Minnesota, was sporting girly shoe covers.

Lathered my bits(1) with the poor man’s chamois creme, ten year old Noxzema, and was off at 5:47a.

Some context. Lance’s ex, showing no concern for my well-being, pulled a last minute legal stunt and so we were a man down. I knew Gordon was going to be way too fast for us mortals, so it was Dano, me, and the masses. Among other things, Dano is also know as Supplement. Dude had plastic bag after plastic bag of pills of every size, shape, and color.

Supplement is relatively new to cycling. Said he may “have gone a hundred once as a teenager”. Performed admirably on an 80 mile mountain training ride a few weeks back. Learned how to draft. Gained fitness. And confidence. Coupled with the pills, and my stellar coaching, piece of cake.

I knew he had the necessary mental make up. An experienced marathoner, he disappeared one weekend four years ago. Decided to celebrate his 50th with a 50 mile run. In serious heat.

The goal was to make like Malcolm X and help Dan around the mountain by any means necessary. The plan was to ride the flats together and regroup at the top of the three climbs.

I was a firm taskmaster. Let’s bridge up to that group. Pull for no more than half a mile. Don’t forget to drink. I insisted he holler if the pace got too quick. He never hollered. Long story short, he surprised me by riding very steadily all day long. My mountain top waits were shorter than expected. Didn’t even fade over the last 25 miles. Maybe there’s something to the pills.

We rode out of town with Gordon and enjoyed his company for about 5-6 miles until he launched. Beforehand, I predicted he’d finish a few hours before us. Climbed nearly 10,000′, over 152 miles, at 20mph. 7:58 total time, 7:35 ride time. He joked it was a “recovery ride” after last week’s stage race. Sick. Look for him to turn some heads in the Leadville 100 on August 14th.

For the first hour we gradually descend, through fog-strewn farmland, and it was flat out cold. At mile 16 I decided I needed to warm up, so I went to the front of the slowish pace-line we were in and settled in. Sixteen miles later we reached a T-intersection. I was aware of two shadows behind me, but cracked up when I realized my train was about 15 people long. I was not going fast, but still a personal record “pull” nonetheless. At the 33 mile food stop I did some press and signed some autographs.

Then Dan and I took turns gently working some rollers. The early morning cold coupled with my enlarged prostrate (2), made for a bad combo. Despite whizzing at mile 33, at 40 I told Dan I had to take a quick nature break. We were facing 15 miles of a 1-2% grade to the park’s entrance. We were being disciplined about spinning easily, but as I was relieving myself on the side of the road, a beautiful 20 person pace-line materialized out of thin air. “Go! Catch on! I’ll catch up!”

Doing his best Tony Martin impersonation, Dan bolted right by the peloton and then sat 100 meters in front in no man’s land. I had to go get him and drag him back. The people on the front were perplexed. “We’re drifting to the back.” In no time at all, we were nearly at the park. A few pills, peanut butter and honey bagels, cookies, and bananas later, and were ready to begin the ride in earnest.

We climbed together to Longmire, regrouped at the top of Paradise, and descended together. Well, until Dan got stuck behind a slow swerving, human impediment disguised as a rider. Road is pretty sketchy so my top speed was only 40.8 before the Garmin quit at mile 94. I felt great all day and climbed well leap frogging from rider to rider.

One wanker had the nerve to pass me near the top of Cayuse. But he was tatted up and so was obviously more of a bad ass.  Mountain was at its most beautiful, mid-50’s, to maybe lower 60’s in the p.m. Breeze coming off the snow, natural air-conditioning. Ditched the turtle neck base layer at mile 88.

The last 30 miles can be a slog. The key is to leave the last food stop with as many other people as possible. We failed, leaving nearly alone. Turkey sandwich charged, Dan caught onto one guy and the three of us settled in for 3-4 miles. I saw three people about three-fourths of a mile ahead and decided to bridge up. Yes a large gap to make up at that point in the day, but I did it over the next 4-5 miles.

After finally making contact, I signaled Dan forward, and sat in back and recovered. 3-4 miles later we were passed by about 15 guys. I didn’t think our lead rider would hook on, but fortunately she did. After sitting in the back for about 10 miles, I was getting annoyed that only about three guys were doing all the work. Feeling the best I’ve ever felt after 130 miles, I went to the front. They wouldn’t get on my wheel despite my slowing down and then passed me shortly afterwards.

Whatever. When the road turned up and the headwind picked up a bit, I went forward again. After realizing I was stronger than all of them, I said screw it, and rode away. That was serious fun. Riding away from about 16 guys after nearly eight hours in the saddle. I waited for Dan at the Mud Mountain turnoff and four of us rode in together. I pushed the pace over the last few miles to get us in under ten hours (9:57, ride time probably 8:50-9:00).

(1) Learned recently that the British sometimes use “bits” to describe male privates. I’d appreciate it if someone from the other side of the pond could explain if “bits” translates more as “balls” or “genitals”. If genitals, I should not have used it in that context.

(2) TMI?

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