RAMROD 2016 Ride Report

The last time I rode RAMROD was in 2011, the first summer I started riding far and fast. Before that, I’d done a few 100-mile rides, including STP twice (STP in two days, to be clear), but that’s the year I rode 10,000 miles. I didn’t have a full-time job, and I had a lot of free time, which I spent riding my bike. That’s the year I rode 1,000 miles a month in May, June, July, and August, with September just shy at 920 miles. Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was to have all that time.

Needless to say, life’s sure changed. With having a kid and a real job, I’m lucky to have Ian, who helps me get in two training-type rides a week, plus maybe one or two commutes with Benji in back. Life moves on! Maybe when I’m retired I’ll have time to do that kind of miles again, but until then, I’m enjoying what I can get. In fact, just the time it’s taken me to write this — a full week since the event — indicates how much change we’ve had in our lives!

I’m not going into a blow-by-blow description of RAMROD like I did last time. Instead, I’ll just say it was a beautiful day; Dad and I found a good, strong group of some of our friends, and we worked hard. I felt satisfied with my effort, and my average pace of 18.5 mph overall. Thanks to fast guys pulling our group, I also logged what I think may be my fastest two splits ever: 36 miles at 21.3 mph average, and 37 miles at 22 mph average. I can’t exactly take credit for it — I wasn’t riding by myself at those speeds — but I did hang on for those stretches, anyway.

The weather was beautiful, views of the mountain spectacular, and wildflowers were out. I didn’t take any pictures, but it was pretty much the same as last time I did it, only faster. I felt strong and took care to eat and drink consistently throughout the ride, and never had any bonking or issues with running out of fuel. It did get hot towards the end, but never felt truly, brutally, grilling-hot. The ice cream bar at the end was heaven!

That’s about it, I guess. It was a good time, but I don’t imagine I’ll have time to train for it again for a number of years. Next year, I’ll come up with some new goal. Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy this hill-climbing fitness by riding up some other good climbs around here. Next up: Mt. St. Helens.

A Moment of Opportunity

I think I mentioned that on Thursday, I’m doing this 160-mile (give or take) bike ride, Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day (RAMROD). That’s why my family took off for the beach this week: Because on Wednesday I’ll be getting ready for this ride, and then on Thursday Dad and I will get up about 3:00 am (!) to drive down to Enumclaw to start riding at 5:30 am.

In preparation for this insanity, I’ve started getting up slightly earlier every morning. Yesterday it was 5:00 am; this morning, 4:30; tomorrow, 4:00 am (!!!!!! I try not to think about it too much). The theory is that I’ll be able to go to bed earlier each night, and that maybe it’ll make 3:00 am feel a little less like the middle of the night. A month ago, it actually wouldn’t have been so middle-of-the-night-ish, because the sun started rising about 4:00 am. But alas, we’re down from 16 to a measly 15 or so hours of daylight, and it’s definitely quite dark even at 4:30 am.

Anyway, getting up this early gives me some time, and I’ve spent a bit of it reading meta-analyses and discussions about the current global political situation. Many people I know have noticed it’s depressing, alarming, intolerable… but these couple articles I’ve been reading go farther than that, into interesting (and, yes, alarming) 10,000-foot views.

In the first one, titled “History tells us what may happen next with Brexit and Trump,” the author argues that people periodically inflict chaos upon themselves, but because we–all people–are short-term thinkers, we don’t remember that we’ve done this before. The academics who do notice are dismissed by the masses as “academic elites” who know nothing about the real world. The author suggests that

based on history we are due another period of destruction, and based on history all the indicators are that we are entering one. …It will come in ways we can’t see coming, and will spin out of control so fast people won’t be able to stop it.

He argues that things are likely to get really bad, possibly for many people, and cites a number of historical examples (think: Communist uprisings; World War I) where really horrendous numbers of people died from self-inflicted choices. Of course, nobody saw it coming, because we don’t look back at the past. But it’s there.

…it’s all inevitable. I don’t know what it will be, but we are entering a bad phase. It will be unpleasant for those living through it, maybe even will unravel into being hellish and beyond imagination. Humans will come out the other side, recover, and move on. The human race will be fine, changed, maybe better. But for those at the sharp end?… this will be their Somme.

I find this conclusion particularly interesting. He begins his article arguing that the Black Death may have actually strengthened and improved humans in the long run (see article for full argument), and perhaps this will be our Black Death/Communist revolution/Archduke Ferdinand moment. But taking this period in the broader view of history as one of many similar events, which will eventually be overcome and perhaps even strengthen us–this is not an easy view to take, because today, right now, we have to face the reality of the possible misery we’re inflicting on ourselves. But maybe it’s a little bit hopeful for the long-term.

Also, it would sure be great if we didn’t inflict this on ourselves. If we could learn from those past mistakes. History didn’t have the kind of global communication network we enjoy today; it’s easier than ever to communicate with thousands, millions, perhaps even billions of people around the world. Unfortunately, it’s also easier than ever to live in an echo chamber, continually hearing our own views and thinking they’re the only truth. This is how people come to believe that everything is worse than ever before, and the world is falling apart: Now we can instantly receive news of every bad event happening around the world, and then our chosen voices reinforce the fearful belief of spiraling insanity. Even though we can communicate more easily than ever before, this may not actually be good for us.

In the second article, written at the beginning of May before Trump sealed the nomination, is titled “Democracies end when they are too democratic.” In it, the author compares Plato’s “Republic” to today. Now, I can’t claim to have read it (my classical education was woefully neglected; my parents have so much to answer for!), but fortunately the author assumes we’ve all missed our classical educations, and he summarizes for us:

And it is when a democracy has ripened as fully as this, Plato argues, that a would-be tyrant will often seize his moment.

[Plato describes the tyrant this way:] He is usually of the elite but has a nature in tune with the time — given over to random pleasures and whims, feasting on plenty of food and sex, and reveling in the nonjudgment that is democracy’s civil religion. He makes his move by “taking over a particularly obedient mob” and attacking his wealthy peers as corrupt. If not stopped quickly, his appetite for attacking the rich on behalf of the people swells further. He is a traitor to his class — and soon, his elite enemies, shorn of popular legitimacy, find a way to appease him or are forced to flee. Eventually, he stands alone, promising to cut through the paralysis of democratic incoherence. It’s as if he were offering the addled, distracted, and self-indulgent citizens a kind of relief from democracy’s endless choices and insecurities. He rides a backlash to excess—“too much freedom seems to change into nothing but too much slavery” — and offers himself as the personified answer to the internal conflicts of the democratic mess. He pledges, above all, to take on the increasingly despised elites. And as the people thrill to him as a kind of solution, a democracy willingly, even impetuously, repeals itself.

The article goes on to discuss the fragility of democracy against tyrants, how our amazing freedom literally allows us to choose our own downfall:

I think we must confront this dread and be clear about what this election has already revealed about the fragility of our way of life and the threat late-stage democracy is beginning to pose to itself. …[American democracy] is not immortal, nor should we assume it is immune to the forces that have endangered democracy so many times in human history. …It is precisely because of the great accomplishments of our democracy that we should be vigilant about its specific, unique vulnerability: its susceptibility, in stressful times, to the appeal of a shameless demagogue.

This goes back to the previous article I mentioned, how people forget the bad choices of the past and will repeatedly pick options not in their best interest. With democracy as democratic as we have it — and the article argues that it’s more democratic than ever before — people literally do have the power to choose harmful leaders, with increasingly weak checks that can no longer serve to protect people from their own bad decisions.

It also goes into how the rise of the Internet media and the decline of, well, mediated media has exacerbated the situation, as I noted above in my own thoughts:

The web’s algorithms all but removed any editorial judgment, and the effect soon had cable news abandoning even the pretense of asking “Is this relevant?” or “Do we really need to cover this live?” in the rush toward ratings bonanzas. In the end, all these categories were reduced to one thing: traffic, measured far more accurately than any other medium had ever done before. …And what mainly fuels this is precisely what the Founders feared about democratic culture: feeling, emotion, and narcissism, rather than reason, empiricism, and public-spiritedness. Online debates become personal, emotional, and irresolvable almost as soon as they begin. Godwin’s Law — it’s only a matter of time before a comments section brings up Hitler — is a reflection of the collapse of the reasoned deliberation the Founders saw as indispensable to a functioning republic.

Then, of course, the stage is set for Trump:

  • We’ve got people who don’t know history and aren’t aware of the many precedents of masses choosing catastrophic options;
  • We’ve got the loudest voice being heard the most, and traditional media tossing out editorial quality in favor of pursuing higher ratings and more traffic;
  • We’ve allowed the power to transfer to all of us, giving great power to ignorance and foolishness, with no balance or check to prevent the most compelling foolish choices (the article says, “The vital and valid lesson of the Trump phenomenon is that if the elites cannot govern by compromise, someone outside will eventually try to govern by popular passion and brute force”);
  • We love to be entertained! Let the most entertaining person win.

I’ll let you all read the whole article, which then proceeds to evaluate why Trump is, in fact, winning–and why he may actually win it big. The long and short of it is that people, collectively, aren’t able to look beyond their own little moments to see a bigger picture.

This is why the Republicans couldn’t unite to defeat Trump in the primaries, and I greatly fear that “never Hillary” holdouts may win their battle but loose us all the war: Individuals aren’t willing to hold their noses and vote against something terrible (Trump) when it means voting for something less ideal (Hillary). Perhaps this time, Democrats can at least learn from the recent history of the Republicans’ failure to stop Trump, and die-hard Bernie supporters can vote for Hillary even though they don’t love her. Surely, if you’re starving, you might prefer cake, but you’d still eat Brussels sprouts over a pile of poop.

The appeal of Trump is compelling and understandable: A promise to instantly “win” for people who suddenly, unexpectedly started losing after a lifetime of winning themselves. The global picture of terror at every turn, combined with the uneven economic recovery that has left many folks in a tough spot, makes for potent motivation to seek out the loudest, strongest voice. He’s the choice that absolves you from ever having to make another choice again. Overwhelmed and terrified with how things seem to be going? Of course you’ll seek the blustering strongman who promises protection and stability, even while engendering destruction and danger.

To call this fascism doesn’t do justice to fascism. Fascism had, in some measure, an ideology and occasional coherence that Trump utterly lacks. But his movement is clearly fascistic in its demonization of foreigners, its hyping of a threat by a domestic minority (Muslims and Mexicans are the new Jews), its focus on a single supreme leader of what can only be called a cult, and its deep belief in violence and coercion in a democracy that has heretofore relied on debate and persuasion. …our paralyzed, emotional hyperdemocracy leads the stumbling, frustrated, angry voter toward the chimerical panacea of Trump.

We probably don’t need to be told this, but the article finishes by reminding us the danger of picking the bully to protect us.

Like all tyrants, he is utterly lacking in self-control. Sleeping a handful of hours a night, impulsively tweeting in the early hours, improvising madly on subjects he knows nothing about, Trump rants and raves as he surfs an entirely reactive media landscape. Once again, Plato had his temperament down: A tyrant is a man “not having control of himself [who] attempts to rule others”; a man flooded with fear and love and passion, while having little or no ability to restrain or moderate them; a “real slave to the greatest fawning,” a man who “throughout his entire life … is full of fear, overflowing with convulsions and pains.”

When we choose the biggest, loudest, meanest guy to protect us–a person totally unable to govern his own words, let alone an entire country–we will certainly suffer consequences. At best, that might mean four years of chaos and disrupted international relations, but at worst…I don’t know. The article closes rather alarmingly:

In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.

But going back again to that first discussion, when you take the broader view, what do you see? Maybe this is the first drop in a thunderstorm of global chaos, or maybe it’s just some bird poop from a random passing crow. Even if it’s the former, what will happen in the very long-term? No system of government lasts forever. Either we take this as a warning shot across the bow and deliberately choose to reevaluate our way of governing to better fit with today’s culture, technology, and needs… or the same thing will happen, but after a lot more misery, loss, and bloodshed.

People, as people, will continue. Hopefully we will learn from this (although history suggests we won’t), build on the good and leave behind the bad from this time. It’s not all as dark as these articles paint it, because with every risk comes a reward. With people shaken out of their complacency, this is an opportunity to redeem and renew our system of government. It’s an opportunity to rise above the petty, selfish, hateful rhetoric and show what democracy is really good for–bringing our best and brightest to the top to lead us all. Maybe we don’t need the elites to be our checks and balances anymore; maybe we can use our technology to come together to make better choices than ever before.

Maybe.

Video of RAMROD

Day’s Verse:
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles…

Isaiah 40:27-31

One of the other riders in our group, Blake, brought a video camera along on RAMROD. Here’s his compilation video, which runs 3 minutes and does an excellent job capturing the feel of the ride. I make a few appearances. Look for black & white kit and helmet streamers.

Edited to add: There was another course photographer on the way. Here’s a (fairly dramatically overexposed) picture he got of me.
BH1_1960.jpg

RAMROD Ride Report

Day’s Verse:
For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.

Isaiah 40:27-31

Well, here it is, two days after RAMROD, and I still haven’t written about my experience yet. What to say? I’ve been thinking about this ride since January. I trained for it intensively for 16 weeks before the ride, and rode with an eye towards preparing even before that. In that time, I’ve eaten innumerable Clif bars, drunk endless bottles of Ironman Perform (lemon-lime), consumed uncountable pounds of pasta and oatmeal, and pedaled millions of strokes and thousands of miles. It’s been one of the pre-ride rainiest seasons anybody can remember, and several times I rode soaking wet and cold, refusing to let bad weather derail my training. I’ve spent so Saturdays away, Ian has an entire Saturday routine that doesn’t include me.

So you could say that I’ve been keenly anticipating this ride for some time. Yes. Of course, everybody’s fear was that it would rain, but as Thursday approached, it became increasingly clear that we would have excellent weather: clear, sunny, and warm but not too hot.

Wednesday evening, Dad and I ate yet another pasta dinner together at Mom and Dad’s house. We packed the car and laid out everything we wanted beforehand. And at about 8:00 pm, I went to bed. We planned on leaving the house by 3:45 am (and that means getting up by 3:15 am), which is early enough that it’s hard to decide whether it qualifies as “extremely late tonight” or “outrageously early tomorrow morning.” The previous couple mornings I had prepared for this hideous wake-up time activity by getting up ever-earlier, and Wednesday woke up at 4:00 am. This meant that when I turned the light out at 8:00 pm, although I was excited for the ride and it was still light out, I actually fell asleep fairly easily.

My body woke me up at 3:00 am on Thursday morning. This worked well. I put on my kit, to which I’d already affixed my number (one less thing to forget), and made myself yet another bowl of oatmeal. It was so early, Carmel didn’t even know what to do. After breakfast, we loaded the last few things into Dad’s car and hit the road just about on time. The sun had not yet risen, and we enjoyed the benefit of highly-responsive stoplights that changed in our favor as soon as we pulled up. It took us almost exactly an hour to reach the start line in Enumclaw.

Of course, we needn’t have hurried — with 17 people in our group, it took the usual inexplicably long time to get us all together and ready to ride. About 5:30 am, we were all there, provisioned, bathroomed, and ready to roll. Here’s a picture of some of us waiting at the start line.

As we left, we passed through a narrow start lane where volunteers removed one of two detachable numbered tags from our jersey numbers. This was their way of counting which people had started the ride. When we finished, they took the matching tag and presumably paired it with the one they obtained at the start, to ensure all the riders made it off the course safely.

Then we rode. We rode in a very long “paceline” — that is, people in the front rotated through, taking turns pulling. After a certain amount down in the line, that system fell apart and people just rode without rotating to the front. We rode fast, averaging about 21 mph for the first 30 miles. I took my turn pulling a couple times, and then decided to let stronger, faster people do the work. At one point the group got split up, and I chased down the clump of people ahead of me, riding in the high 20s for sustained periods. When we pulled into the stop in Eatonville* at mile 30-ish, I decided that was plenty of that; we still had all the climbing left to do, and I needed my legs to last another 120 miles. However, the route was quite beautiful, all these rolling green hills, the sun rising against Mt. Rainier, the air cool and fresh and clean… it was heavenly. Here’s a picture of the group very early on.

Here’s a picture one of my riding buddies took at the rest stop in Eatonville.

Just before Eatonville, one of my friends — Heather — had the misfortune to have a mechanical that the wrench at the stop couldn’t fix. Her official RAMROD was over at that point, but she did manage to redeem the ride by getting her bike fixed elsewhere and doing the last part of the ride.

After Eatonville, we left in a large but reasonable-sized group, but fairly quickly split into increasingly small groups. This was good. I let the fast people go off and be fast (and they were; they finished 100 people ahead of me, and I only ever saw them once on the rest of the ride), and rode with a group that went a pace I could sustain. I pulled a fair amount for the next 25 miles and felt fresh, strong, and overall great. The sun continued to rise, giving us fabulous lakeside reflections of wooded hills lit by morning sunlight with clear, light blue skies. One of the guys I rode with, Blake, had a video camera that he kept whipping out. I hope I get to see some of the footage, because it was really beautiful. No pictures of that stage, sadly. GPS battery held out through this point, astonishing me.

At the rest stop around mile 55, I looked around and realized we’d left a number of my buddies behind, including Dad. We regrouped at the rest stop — which had food that I didn’t eat; I had my own Clif bars, and somehow riding after having eating chocolate croissants sounded terrible. At every opportunity, though, I used port-a-potties and refilled my water. I diligently drank at least 1 bottle per hour, and ate almost one Clif bar per hour, working hard on consuming the recommended nutrients. It really helped, I think, too, even though it felt like I kept constantly choking down more food or pulling out that bottle again. After a while the bottles and cages got so coated with partly-dried sugar stickiness that they started forming some kind of adhesive that made it nearly impossible to remove the bottle from the cage. I had to start rinsing the bottles and cages off, and even then, the problem wasn’t fixed until I got home and used soap on both surfaces.

Back to the ride. After that second rest stop, we gathered up our group — which continued to shrink — and headed into the park. I had to let out a whoop of excitement when we officially passed through the gates into Mt. Rainier National Park, it was just so exciting! As we rolled through, park rangers called to us to slow down and spread out. Then they read out our bib numbers to other people with clipboards. I assume this was to keep “bandits” (non-registered riders) from joining the ride, a practice most strenuously discouraged. I was number 809**, but they read it as 808 initially. I wonder if there were any repercussions for the real number 808…

Entering Mt. Rainier National Park really marked the beginning of the serious climbing. The first big climb was up to Inspiration Point, which people talked about as the road to Paradise. I know Paradise is a place in the park, but I couldn’t help but mentally agree: It felt like a road to paradise. The huge old-growth trees, with the sunlight filtering through; the winding road; the glimpses of the mountain’s snowy peak; the bridges over rivers somewhere far below; it was just wonderful. Partway up, the two guys — Craig and Jay, both people I knew from Earthdreams and previous RTS rides — I was riding with stopped for pictures. All we had were not-very-good cell phone camera pictures, but here’s me with Craig.

We took a short detour for a better view, and the guys took some more pictures. When we pulled back onto the course, we passed Dad, who had apparently been not far behind us and got ahead while we were enjoying the astonishing vistas. The valley was so far down (and we’d ridden that entire way up!), the river down there winding through the trees, with the mountains marching off into the hazy distance… Well, more of the same, but never boring. I couldn’t have accommodated my camera in my pockets, but I wish I had some way of recording some of the panoramas we saw.

When we got to the top of Paradise, after about 20 miles of climbing, there was a water-and-bathroom stop. We peed, refilled bottles, and I saw Dad. He wasn’t feeling too hot, but we took a happy picture anyway. It was so much fun, I could hardly contain myself.

Then we started the descent from Paradise, and it was glorious. The road wasn’t in the best condition, but the views of the mountain in Reflection Lake; the lupines and other wildflowers blooming on the sides; the valleys; and did I mention THE MOUNTAIN?! Holy smokes, it was so fabulous. I know I keep saying that, so I’ll try to move on now. Craig took this picture of me on the way down.

Because of all the views I kept wanting to gaze at, I had a hard time keeping my eyes on the road. I really needed to keep my eyes on the road, too, because it was somewhat winding, the guard rail protecting us from thousand-foot-tumbles wouldn’t stop a child on a trike, and the road had a lot of frost heaves and cracks. I followed Craig’s line, since he’d done RAMROD before and had an idea of where to put himself to avoid the worst of the road (in the oncoming traffic lane, often, but we only saw about 3 cars going the other way, so it was fine). I believe this picture, by one of the official course photographers, was taken on the descent from Paradise, although it may’ve been the next one, coming down Backbone Ridge.

Backbone Ridge was the next climb, and it just didn’t feel like that big of a deal. It was short and sweet, with a good descent that we were able to fly down. I practiced cornering, something I’m generally no good at.

Then we got to the bottom of the climb to Cayuse Pass. I took off my arm warmers and vest (which came off for every climb, and went back on for every descent). Thus far, Craig, Jay, and I had been holding back, saving energy for the climb up Cayuse. When we got to the start of the climb, Jay decided he was going to take off. We waved goodbye to him and took our time, riding at a pace that allowed us to have a (slow, multi-pause-per-thought) conversation. It was so very peaceful and quiet. We hardly saw anybody, bicyclist or motorist.

A bit more than halfway up the 12-mile climb, we came to a much-needed water stop. Cayuse is the steepest climb, and it’s also the third one. By then you’re fairly tired, you’ve been drinking quite a bit, and it had a good number of open, sunny stretches that could’ve been really blistering if it was any hotter. The stop felt good. I rinsed my bottles and cages off for a slight improvement in on-bike bottle extraction, a gain lost not long after as I spilled more sticky energy drink all over. After the halfway stop, Craig and I got separated. I pulled ahead, increasing speed to a whopping 8 mph or so. I got to the top feeling quite good, much less tired than I would’ve imagined. (Don’t get me wrong, I was tired. Just not exhausted.) Jay was waiting at the top, and we then waited for Craig.

When Craig pulled up, he looked pale and unwell. We made him drink a bottle of water with an electrolyte tablet in it, and then we just rested up there for a while. When Craig started perking back up, we began the fabulous 10-mile descent down Cayuse Pass to the lunch stop. Actually, they call it a deli stop, because you eat a sandwich there regardless of what time you arrive. Anyway, we had a great flight down the mountain, and the guys’ superior mass translated into dramatically superior momentum over the distance. However, I caught up with them as they soft-pedaled to the deli stop.

At the deli stop, we saw the fast Earthdreams people! They were just leaving. This was a tad disappointing, because I’d been hoping to ride with them (read: “suck their wheels”) the last 40 miles, which are known to have pretty stiff headwinds most of the way back to Enumclaw. However, I wasn’t about to give up my bathroom, water, and food break just to keep up with those guys, so they went off and finished very early while the rest of us sat around and ate. As we waited, more of our group rolled in, including Dad, so we gathered a good number of people to work together those last long miles. Here’s me and Dad at lunch.

The last miles were the hardest for me. My GPS, which had miraculously held out until about 3 miles after the lunch stop, finally died. I had no way of knowing what time it was, making eating and drinking on schedule impossible; I didn’t know how many miles we had left, making pacing incredibly difficult; I didn’t know my speed; and the wind was fierce. Our Earthdreams crew ended up in a larger group of Lakemont Cycling Club riders and some other miscellaneous people, none of whom we knew. The speed kept vacillating, one minute fast, the next slowing down, so it was impossible to get on somebody’s wheel, even if I’d wanted to — which I didn’t, because I didn’t know any of them. It’s not smart to draft off a rider you don’t know.

In short, I kept having to put on spurts of extra speed to make up gaps in the line that formed as people slowed then sped up. It wasn’t pretty, and I started getting really fatigued. Francis, who I know, filled in a gap for me at one point, and boy did it hurt to grab his wheel and hang on. At that point he told me we had 20 miles left. I just put my head down and soldiered on, refusing to let them drop me even though I was so, so tired. I’m sure that was a nice section of road, but I don’t remember it at all. Just the pain and refusing to give up. Dad, I’m sorry to say, continued to not feel his best, and got dropped somewhere along the way. I was completely unaware of anything beyond the wheel in front of me, so I don’t know when that happened. Turns out we were riding at a pace around 22 to 25 mph, which is why I struggled so hard every time I had to catch up.

Happily for me, after we turned onto the delightfully-named Mud Mountain Road, Francis pulled over for a pit stop. Most of the group continued on, leaving us with just a few people, most of whom I knew. We did the last 10 miles together, and at one point Craig even gave me a little push so I didn’t fall off the wheel in front of me. Heh, there’s something to be said for riding with big guys who can put out a lot of power.

Then we finished! We rolled in, they gave us a little patch that says RAMROD 2011, took our finishing tag off our bibs, and called out our names. And there were a bunch of the fast people, many of them showered, looking all fresh and perky and annoying me. I took myself off to find the free ice cream truck, and by the time I’d consumed my fruit Popsicle, felt much better. I couldn’t get at my chocolate milk or food, since it was all in Dad’s car and he had the key, but I just sat and chatted with my buddies. We shot the breeze, rehashed the ride, exclaimed over the excellence of the weather and the ride in general, and looked at pictures of ourselves the official course photographer had posted. I bought mine for $10. I think it was worth it.

Dad rolled in a while later, very tired. We took a while recovering, taking showers, and generally getting combobulated. Then Dad heroically drove home again, dropping me off at my house with my zillion bags of stuff.

And that was RAMROD. I can hardly wait for next year. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to High Pass Challenge, the next big ride.


* Eatonville may sound familiar because I did an OSPI training there back in the spring. I got snowed, rained, and sleeted on during that three-day stay. Happily, my second Eatonville experience, with RAMROD, was infinitely nicer.

** Later I learned that the numbers are assigned in reverse age order. So the oldest rider on the course is number 1, and the youngest is number 800-something. I must’ve been close to the youngest, with a number of 809. I wish I’d known that when I was riding! Gives me a whole different perspective on when I pass people.

PS – Most of the pictures are Craig’s, with a scattering of other peoples’ included. I snagged them all off of Facebook, where you can see lots more if you really want.

Sunny Activities

Day’s Verse:
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.
Hebrews 11:1-2

I haven’t blogged since last week for one excellent reason: The sun made a prolonged appearance! To celebrate, I spent lots of time outside and got festively sunburned on the back of my shoulders, an area that sees the sun approximately 0.8% of the year (on a good year).

Taking advantage of the sun, I also shaved our front yard, not quite to golf course standards, but to a respectable length. Believe it or not, despite the frequent summer drizzles, the grass has mostly died off again for the summer, a fact for which I am profoundly grateful. I don’t like mowing. Never have, but regardless it’s been one of my chores in homes that have a yard since I was big enough to push the mower. Now Ian and I tend to split the mowing duties pretty fairly, so I can’t really complain.

I also used the sun to dry clothes, which always feels both old-fashioned and glowingly, self-righteously environmental; of course, read books outside; and, also of course, went for bike rides. Nothing extravagant*, though, because RAMROD is this coming Thursday, the 28th. We’re all cautiously optimistic about the probability of rain on RAMROD, but rain or shine, I’ll be on my bike in Enumclaw at 5:30 am on Thursday, heading for Mt. Rainier.

My goals for RAMROD: (1) To finish; (2) To have fun riding with my friends; and (3) To average above 17 mph. But (3) is really a far, far third after the first two, and I’ll be quite happy with just achieving those. On Sunday Dad and I picked up our RAMROD packets, which contain the all-important numbers that are required for legitimate riders to prove you belong (and, more importantly, that you deserve to get the FOOD at rest stops). After six months of thinking about this and training for it, RAMROD is really happening. I just have to not do something dumb like trip on a stair and break my ankle between now and Thursday. I imagine Cadel Evans feels this way but much more so, having finally won the Tour de France.

That’s more than enough bike talk. I’ll leave you with this picture of Ian, who’s doing something that I really love because it’s so him. (He got 20 out of 48 Star Trek trivia questions right, a truly impressive feat, given the absurd detail of the questions.)
Star Trek Trivia

* I’m quite sure Ian would say it was extravagant. I rode 230 miles total during the week. On Saturday I rode 75 miles at an 18.8 mph pace with about 4500 feet of climbing with my riding buddies, but neither that afternoon nor in subsequent days did I ever feel tired or sore. I did eat three pieces of pizza at the nerd party we went to that afternoon, though.