Yesterday I did a repeat of my Amost epic muni ride. Same route. Same trails. Same evil climb.
Why would I do it again after suffering through it once already last year? Well I like the challenge and I wanted to see if I could do the distance and climbing better this year. It’s a long hard ride. A good test to see how my fitness is.
The Ranger Creek ride I did is an 18.1 mile loop with approximately 4100 feet of cumulative elevation gain. The good news is that since it’s a loop, every foot you climb you eventually get to go down. That’s a lot of descending.
The ride took me 5 hours 30 minutes in total this year compared to 7 hours 15 minutes last year. I got a late start this year and had to hurry to get back before dark. The threat of darkness kept me motivated to keep on going.
I felt better during and after the ride this year than last year. But I was still pretty wonked for the last two miles. I don’t know if I needed to eat more, drink more, or take more salt. Whatever it was, I was starting to have a hard time on those last two miles. I’ll have to figure out what’s going on so I can keep my energy up for long rides like this without hitting some sort of wall. That’s part of the challenge in doing a ride like this. The good news is that I can still walk just fine today.
My goal is to be able to do the entire Palisades loop which is 21.7 miles and 5100 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Based on how I was feeling during the last two miles of the Ranger Creek ride, I’m not yet ready to do the full Palisades loop. I rode the Palisades trail last year, but I took a shortcut to get there which cut 6 miles from the ride and a couple thousand feet of cumulative elevation gain. I need to do the ride without taking the shortcut. I also need to actually ride more of the Coral Pass Road climb instead of hiking it.
The climb up Coral Pass Road is still a bitch. 5.2 miles and 2600 feet of climbing. The grade is over 10% in places and the steep bits tend to have the washboard braking bumps which makes the steep bits even harder to climb. I climbed more of the climb this year than last year, but I’m still a long long ways from climbing all of it. My strategy this year was to keep on moving because I had limited time to do the ride before darkness. If I wasn’t riding I was hiking. No time to just stand around. It took me 1 hour 45 minutes this year to do the climb/hike compared to a little over 2 hours last year. I rode more of the climb this year, but I’m still not able to sustain the steeper parts. It might be able to ride the entire climb, but you’d have to take it slow and take frequent rest stops. I was feeling a lot better at the top of the climb this year than I felt last year. Last year my legs felt like they were made of out lead after the climb. This year the legs were saying “Hey, time to hit the singletrack”.
So on to the singletrack. The trail starts with about 3 miles of up and down riding near a ridge. If the day wasn’t so hazy I would have nice clear views of Mt. Rainier. After that, the trail is mostly downhill switchbacks. It’s an endless downhill. The trail is mostly buff with a few roots and rocks. It’s no gonzo downhill run. Just a nice XC trail out in the backcountry. The trail is cut into the side of the mountain. There is usually a very steep dropoff on one side of the trail. You certainly don’t want to fall down the dropoff and you don’t want your muni to fall off that side of the trail either. The uphill side of the trail creates pedal strike hazards. The trail is pretty skinny, so between keeping away from the uphill side to avoid pedal strikes and keeping away from the downhill side to avoid falling down a steep slope, it’s like riding a 6 inch wide skinny for mile after mile. Because of the skinny trail and the threat of pedal strikes you cannot just let it fly going down. You’ve got to go slow and keep it in control. I had a couple of good pedal strikes that sent me flying. Fortunately nothing that caused me or my unicycle to fall down the steep side of the trail.
I took a couple of pictures and put them in my Palisades gallery from last year. The Ranger Creek ride and Palisades ride are right next to each other so I figured they’d go well together in the same gallery.
I’ll have to do a better job next time of picking a day that isn’t hazy so I’ll have better views of Mt. Rainier. On the plus side, there were wild flowers in bloom this time and I feel that the flowers make up for the hazy views of Mt. Rainier.
I still need to do a muni ride that qualifies as an epic. I’m getting close to being able to handle the physical end of a big epic muni ride. I’m just not quite there yet. Maybe if I find an epic ride where the climb isn’t as steep as the Coral Pass Road climb…
John “still need to do an epic” Childs