Lately all the roads within 25 miles of my house bore me to tears. I keep riding them, because what’re you gonna do? but I’ve been fantasizing about riding somewhere else. Hence the Mt. St. Helens ride. But I also organized a group to ride Mt. Rainier today. This ride mirrored a ride we did last year, basically the only group ride of 2020.

On the Mt. St. Helens ride, my ride buddy and I went fast. With just the two of us, we had very few stops, and those we had went quick. I worked hard, suffered, and snagged QOMs. That kind of ride has its charms and satisfactions, no question.

On this ride, we had six total people, including me. I decided before the ride to stay with Dad and the group, even if I could ride up the mountain faster. I’m glad I did. Not every ride has to be a QOM-chasing leg-burner. Today’s ride — socializing with friends, stopping for pictures, and gawking at the mountain — helped fill my heart in a way no super-speedy ride could. I loved it.

Here are some of the pictures we took along the way.

Mt Rainier: Nisqually
Katie & Dad at Mt. Rainier
Mt Rainier heading towards Paradise
Katie at Paradise
Box Canyon
More Mt. Rainier
Reflection Lake & Swift

A couple things to notice: Did you see the haze? After a number of weeks of steady west winds keeping our air clean, wildfire smoke has started seeping into our region from Eastern Washington and points south. At home it’s not terrible, but as we drove closer to the mountain, and then as we rode up it, the haze thickened a bit. My throat feels a little scratchy, a feeling I associate with mildly smoky bike rides (although it could also be the beginning of a cold, since it seems Benji contracted one at camp this week). So not such clear views as we might’ve had, but still fine.

Also, clouds did block the view somewhat too. You know what else happens when it’s cloudy? Rain. And sure enough, it rained on us, the first rain we’ve experienced in something like a month and a half. I worried about it when drops started falling on our drive to the start, but the road barely got wet. The rain actually felt nice while we were climbing, because we also “enjoyed” a much higher humidity level than usual for Washington. So as we rode, it was about 70 degrees and humid. We sweated buckets. A little cool rain felt quite refreshing.

Simon and I couldn’t help but notice that the two days we picked for mountain rides were the only two significantly cloudy days in the last few weeks. Ah well; clouds don’t stop us from riding. I’m sure glad. It was a great break from those ho-hum familiar old roads I can reach within a few hours of my house.

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