Route-master Tim, of Joy Ride Gravelpalooza fame, put out a DIY Holiday Edition Gravelpalooza route (its what we can do during the COVID crisis). The route gets posted on Joy Ride’s website (and various other Social media sites) as a Ride With GPS file. It’s up to individual riders, or small groups to decide when they want to do the route. The Holiday Edition route was not an easy one. At first glance, the mileage was pretty high at 42.2 miles. Fortunately, the overall elevation was slightly below the “Golden Ratio” (1000 ft/10 miles) at 3924.8ft. There would be some pretty punchy and short climbs as well as one seriously punchy and long climb. And, all of this was on a road none of us has ever ridden before.
We met at the Mima Falls Trailhead Parking. It’s a good thing the route didn’t start on the Mima Falls Trail because there was a huge group of hikers just starting out. It made our group of 6 look very small. The brave souls that agreed to this epic route were Bethany, Curtis, Linda, Renee, Stephanie, and me. If successful, this would be Renee’s longest ride (and probably most elevation gain). I told her, if she was able to complete the route, she would set new parameters as to what she was capable of doing.
As we were heading out of the parking, we saw Sarah coming up the hill. She ended up riding with us for the first 6 miles or so. But, as she was not prepared to ride 42 miles, we said goodbye at the top of the D Line.
The better part of the first 16 miles were on paved roads, and a good chunk was downhill. This is what made 42 miles seem doable on a sunny December day.
Once we did a short stint on Hwy 12, the road back into the forest began with a shortish punchy climb. This road was called the DC Line. There was a gate off Hwy 12, and another gate later on that meant no cars (especially on a Saturday when there is no logging). We were to gain over 2000ft of elevation over the next 10+ miles (as you can tell, a bit over the “Golden Ratio”).
Curtis, Linda, and Stephanie
Renee making her way up.
Bethany on MC.
Group shot by Linda!
We continued working our way along the DC Line. It leveled out for awhile, but then we came to this point.
Oh my...that’s the road going up up up!
There’s Linda just to the right of the trees that are in the foreground.
Needless to say, all of us, except Curtis, had to walk at some point. I managed to ride until it got too steep and too much loose rock. When I start popping wheelies, it’s time to walk! We all made it though.
The route took a turn that would lead to some singletrack on the Porter Tie Trail. Or...we could just go up the C Line. The route would be coming back into the C Line anyway, and it cut off some mileage. We opted to take the C Line. It may have been more elevation...we’ll never know (unless we do the route again...). Before getting to the top of the C Line, we got a pretty awesome view of the big three...Rainier, Adams, and St. Helens.
Steph, and Rainier! This is another view recently made possible by logging.
From the top of the C Line we had a miles long descent to Sherman Valley. It’s more often that I climb UP the C Line. It’s a blast to fly down!
Once on Waddell, we had a little jaunt on the Al Davis Trail which served to remind me that 1) I am not a mountain biker, and 2) I don’t like riding puddle-filled singletrack (even if it is flat and “easy”). But, wait, there was more singletrack to come. The McKenny Trail involved a nice walk up a steep hill. Fortunately, the trail portion was just .5 miles.
Once back on the “E” roads (9500, 9000), it wasn’t much further back to the cars. The route would have had us following E9000 to Bordeaux Rd, and back via the road, and the way we came, but in my mind, that was just gratuitous road miles, so we took the Mima Falls Trail straight back to the parking lot.
We ended up doing 37.4 miles (with our little short cuts), and 3622ft of elevation gain. And...we finished before it got dark! Everyone did a magnificent job today. It was an epic ride for a December day, even if it was fantastic weather!