Thursday, July 31, 2008
The good news is I FINISHED! The bad news… this is hands-down the toughest ride I’ve ever endured. The weather was perfect. While it was raining at home in Bothell, we had blue skies and sunshine in the low 80s. The only bit of rain we got was in the last half hour of the ride. The mountain was sporting a little cloud hat, but the views were still outstanding. The descents were amazing, soaring at 35 miles per hour down 9 miles of downhill. The climbs however were another story. I knew it was going to be a long, hard day.
Kristin, Bob D. and I left Enumclaw at 5:55 a.m. It was 43 degrees and most of the riders around me weren't dressed for it. But by Eatonville, things warmed up and soon we were at 59 miles and just outside Mt. Rainier National Park. I said farewell to Kristin and Bob at mile 59 and never saw them again until the finish line. The first climb up to Paradise is about 15 miles long. I had to take it two miles at a time, resting and then continuing. I was ecstatic to finally arrive at the top. But two more climbs were ahead. The second climb up Backbone Ridge is only 3 miles so that was mentally easier to take on. I stopped for a victory photo at the top and then enjoyed another amazing descent. The last climb of the day to Cayuse Pass is 9 miles and the steepest. It was also the hottest during this climb. I’ve never been so relieved to see the top of a mountain pass as when I summitted Cayuse!
One final descent and then a long 35 miles of rollers back into Enumclaw. I finished at 8:10 p.m. So for the record, that’s about 12+ hours on the bike and 154 miles. But, I wasn't last. Of the 800 riders that began this ride... four finished after me. But finishing fast wasn't my goal... just finishing.
Check out more photos here.