Bethany and Curtis have never ridden up to Johnston Ridge at Mt St Helens. In fact, Curtis had never been there. Bethany wanted to do the ride, and when I told Curtis we were doing it, he wanted to come too.
The weather report didn’t look too bad (in all fairness, it didn’t look that great either), so Bethany took the day off from work, Curtis offered to drive the three of us, and we headed out of town shortly before 7:30. We parked at the intersection of Hwys 505 and 504 (better known as the Spirit Lake Hwy).
Getting ready to ride.
Grayson ready to roll.
It was 37 miles to Johnston Ridge. It was raining, and continued to rain, on more than off, the whole day. However, it wasn’t really cold.
Curtis, being pretty speedy, took off. We agreed to regroup at the Forest Education Center (18 miles in).
Low lying clouds.
Curtis got to the FEC about 30 minutes ahead of me (he got there just as they were opening at 10:00). But, that was good because he was able to charge his Garmin for awhile. I arrived and ate a snack while we waited for Bethany.
Post rest break/regroup, we climbed the remaining distance to Elk Rock. Here’s the view.
Yeah...not so much. On a clear day, this is one of the better views of St Helens.
On the descent down to Coldwater my hands got pretty cold, but the rest of me was fine. The best weather of the day was down by Coldwater Lake. There was even some blue sky. Starting the climb up to Johnston Ridge, I even took my Shake Dry jacket off...until it started to rain again.
Sun down there!
Snow up there.
As I was riding along, I looked ahead and could see Curtis on the other side of the road. Ruh roh, he was fixing a flat. While he was working on the tire, I took the opportunity to eat a snack. He got the old tube out, found the tiny very sharp rock that was imbedded in his tire, and put the new tube in. Only problem was the valve on the new tube wasn’t quite long enough (he has pretty deep dish rims). First he tried his little electric pump. Nope, couldn’t get enough of a bite on the valve. Next he tried CO2...same result. Then he tried my pump. He got a little air to go in, but couldn’t keep it steady enough (even with me holding the wheel). Next he tried to patch the punctured tube. Turns out those sticky patches (the kind you just rough up the tube, and stick the patch on without rubber cement) don’t stick on a wet tube. We tried again to get the pump to stay on, this time with me pushing on the tire to push the valve as far as possible. It was the same problem of holding the pump steady enough. Then he tried the electric pump, again with me pushing the valve as much as possible. This time we got it to work!
We rode the 1 1/2 miles to Johnston Ridge. Of course, Bethany had been there for awhile. Curtis decided he should take the opportunity of a dry, undercover spot to patch the tube. Bethany opted to head on down, knowing we would have to do the climb out of Coldwater.
Just to prove we were there...even though you can see nothing.
Both of us wearing our Gore Shake Dry jackets.
For the 6 1/2 mile descent back to Coldwater, I put my lobster gloves on (who knew I’d still be wearing lobster gloves at the end of May???). That was a good thing. My hands stayed nice and warm.
Just as I was beginning the climb out of Coldwater, who should I come upon...
Whoops, now Bethany has a flat. So much for her head start out of Coldwater.
At the spot where the road loops around, and goes back over the road, we regrouped. I got this photo of Bethany.
Taken from the overpass. I did a video too (I’ll post that on Facebook).
We regrouped once again at the Forest Education Center. From there it was 18 miles of mostly downhill, with just enough uphill to keep us warm, to get back to the car.
Curtis and I arrived back at the car, got changed, and were waiting for Bethany. After awhile, we decided to go get her. About that time, I took my phone off airplane and saw a text from her saying she had another flat, and was now walking.
We got to her (about 4 miles up the road), and found out that she had had a second flat, and put in her last tube. Then shortly after, the tire went flat again. She had no more tubes.
She got changed, and we loaded her bike onto the rack. We were going to eat at the Riverview Restaurant, but by the time we got back there, it had just closed. Instead we had dinner at Rib Eye (Ramblin Jacks) just off I-5 at the Napavine exit. It was a well deserved delicious end to the day. My Garmin said I rode 74.9 miles and 7034ft of elevation gain. Yes, most people would not have chosen to ride up Mt St Helens on a day like today, but it was still a great day made epic by weather and flat tires!