Author: Mike Hassur
This ride was so much fun. First of all, I got an email from a cyclist in Germany, Jurgen Becker, who said that he would be visiting Tacoma for three weeks and would like to ride with us in the mountains during his stay. He had somehow found the Puyallup Cyclopaths Blog, read it, and decided that we might be the guys to guide him through the mountains in the Tacoma vicinity. I sent an email back to Jurgen with a few questions and received a prompt reply that 70 miles and 6500 feet of climbing would not be a problem.
As the date for our ride approached, we had seven cyclists interested in going: Les Becker, John Winter, Conor Collins, Jurgen Becker, David Garate, Brent Moody, and yours truly. Since Les was driving from Tacoma, he agreed to pick up Jurgen (who is staying with a family in Parkland).
|Mike, John, Jurgen, Conor, & Les|
We met in Randle at about 7:45 AM and were surprised to see Mark Delrosario pull into the parking lot. I had not heard from Mark before the ride, so I had no idea that he was interested in going. When Mark got out of his car and informed us that he would be our Windy Ridge Sag Wagon Driver, we were even more surprised. Mark had come well prepared: lots of water, chocolate milk, pretzels, etc. in a huge cooler that sat on the backseat of his car. All of a sudden we went from trying to make it 70 miles in the mountains with just two water bottles apiece to – NO PROBLEM!!
We were going to try to leave by around 8:00 AM. By 8:15, there was still not sign of David and Brent (who were driving together); and the cell phone reception was spotty so calling wasn’t working. We left and had Mark stay behind in his car to see if they showed up. Mark waited for a while and then met us 8.5 miles up the road (where the single lane National Forest Road - #26 began). NF-#26 is a cool road: single lane, very little traffic, and climbing almost continuously for approximately 19 miles with beautiful scenery the entire way. We asked Mark to go back to Randle and check for David and Brent one more time. If he found them, he would make sure that they did not miss NF-#26 (as it was not well marked) and then proceed up NF-#26 to find us.
|Jurgen and Conor in the distance heading up NF-#26|
|Les, Mke, John, and Jurgen at Spirit Lake|
|Windy Ridge Lookout|
It had been overcast when we began our ride with temperatures in the high 40’s. By the time we reached Windy Ridge, it was sunny and starting to warm up; and we had enjoyed spectacular views of Mt Rainier, Mt Adams, Mt Hood, and – of course – Mt St Helens on the way up.
|Leaving Windy Ridge (Mt Adams in background)|
After our stop at the Windy Ridge Lookout, we descended back the way we came to Meta Lake. Then, instead of taking NF-#26 back down, we proceed on #99 to NF-#25 and took it back. The road surface is rough in many places (especially on NF-#25), so we had to be vigilant; but we managed enjoy a fast and safe descent back to Randle.
This was a really enjoyable ride. The weather was perfect, the cycling was challenging, and it was a great group of guys with whom to share an adventure.
|Finished: Mike, John, Les, Jurgen, Conor, Brent, & David|
Click on the following link to view all photos for all rides: