Sunday, September 15, 2013

What I Will Do for a Milkshake!

What was I thinking? 9310 feet of elevation gain in 68.2 miles for a milkshake??? Yep, that was today's ride--The 2013 Milkshake Challenge. 

What is the Milkshake Challenge? It is an unsupported OOA/CBC bike ride put together by one of our OOA Team members. It's just for fun (fun, being a relative term). It is also a contest of sorts which I will explain later.

Climb #1

The ride started at the Sno-Park parking lot at the base of Crystal Mountain Blvd. on the way to Mt. Rainier.
There were around 18 of us (7 women!). The first climb of the day was up to Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. We all started with arm warmers as, although the sun had come out, it was still pretty chilly in the shade. In short order, however, all arm warmers had become wrist warmers. It was a 6 mile climb that started right out of the parking lot. No time for warming up! I managed to stay close to the gals on this one. At the top of Crystal, we took a team photo and a women's photo.

Then we got to ride back down! It was a little chilly, but it felt good after the climb.

Climb #2

After regrouping back at the start of the first climb, we headed out for Sunrise. That meant heading into Mt. Rainier National Park.

We turned off Hwy 410 to White River and Sunrise. After a brief downhill, we came to the entrance station. We each paid our $5 entrance fee and started the long climb. It was somewhere around 12 miles of solid climbing. I stayed up with the gals for awhile, but then could no longer go their pace. Part of the reason is that I have one more easier gear than most of them. That means that, although I can pedal easier, I go slower. Now, I could just not use that gear...yeah, that's not gonna happen!

As I reached the higher elevation, I had the same problem I had on my last tour. I started to get a sinus headache. After awhile I took more sinus medication (with acetaminophen). It didn't really make it better, but it didn't get much worse--which was good as I still had probably another 1500 ft to go. As I continued up, I could see Maria up ahead. She was off her bike stretching her cramping calves (this was not an easy climb). She got back on just before I caught up to her, and we rode on together. As we reached Sunrise Point, I thought we were at the top but, no. We had another 300 ft of climbing to do. At least it wasn't as steep. We caught up to Lauren and Michelle. Michelle was having her own issues of needing electrolytes (if Michelle was having issues, this was for sure not easy). Lauren had her covered and Maria and I continued to the top. The rest of the group was waiting--eating and resting. At 6400 ft, Sunrise is the highest paved road in Washington.
Maria and the mountain.

Jim, Steve, and Dave

Yep, 6400 ft!

Mt. Rainier in all her glory!

After another group photo (some had left), we began the most awesome descent.

I passed a few people on the downhill (weight always wins going down). We exited the entrance station and returned to Hwy 410.

Climb #3

For the final climb of the day, we took a right onto Hwy 410 and started the 7 or so mile climb to Cayuse and Chinook Passes. Maria, Michelle, and Lauren opted to head back to the cars instead of doing Chinook (good idea). Jean was a climbing machine, so that meant I was on my own for this entire climb. At one point I just had to stop and take a photo of the mountain from this angle.
Such a beautiful day!

When I reached Cayuse, I took a brief little break before continuing the 4 more miles to the top of Chinook Pass. With about 3/4 of a mile to go, the group passed me coming down. It was very hard to not turn around and go with them, but I wanted to do the Challenge. So, here's what the Challenge was: From the top of Chinook, it was a coasting contest back to the cars. The person who could make it the furthest without pedaling would get a free milkshake from Dave.

So, I completed the ride to the top and even took this photo as proof before starting my coasting.

This was an even better descent than from Sunrise because the road was much smoother. I braked a bit in the hairpin turns, but mostly let Tessa fly. I even passed a car on a straight stretch. I was able to take the lane as I was easily doing the speed limit. There were a couple of slight rises, but I made it up them still going 20 mph (I think my max speed was 41mph). Toward the bottom with about three miles to go to the cars, the road went up a little more. I was still coasting, but by the time I got to the top of that rise, I was at 7mph. Still, I managed to make it to the next downhill without pedaling. In fact, I made it back and into the gravel parking lot before I had to put my foot down. 

So, who won? Initially, it was Mark who made it the furthest into the parking lot but then, Adam became the "official" winner because he just kept coasting past the turn to the parking for an additional 1 1/2 miles! I don't think I would have wanted to go the extra distance myself.

We all met at Wally's Drive-In in Buckley for the award presentation.

Congrats Adam!

Of course, I also had a milkshake. I just had to pay for it myself.

This ride was one of the more difficult rides I've done, but it was great to prove to myself I could do it. Also, the scenery was outstanding! I wouldn't necessarily recommend this ride to just anyone, but, if you've got the legs and the desire, it's a worthwhile challenge! And don't forget to reward yourself with a milkshake at Wally's (FYI--the burgers are pretty good too)!

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