We climbed one mile on Hurricane Ridge in Port Angeles, WA

This weekend John Childs, Jeff Sloan and I climbed Hurricane Ridge in Port Angeles. We left yesterday and stayed in Port Townsend with John’s Parents. It is a good thing that John didn’t tell the Seattle Area Riders how nice and hospitable his parents are, or everyone would have wanted to come along and stay over. Ruby, Jeff’s girlfriend drove to Port Townsend yesterday to “pretend to be tourists” with us in downtown Port Townsend. We walked along some of the piers and got Ice Cream and sat at a pub to drink lemonade and beer. We ate a wonderful dinner at John’s parents place. His mom is a vegetarian, and they shop at a local food coop, so the food was well suited for my vegetarian needs and organic! We crashed around 10pm, and woke up this morning around 5:30am to pack and enjoy an awesome breakfast that John’s dad made for us.

We drove to Port Angeles and parked as close as we could to the straight of Juan de Fuca, hoping to find a spot to dip our tires in before gaining a mile in elevation from unicycling up Hurricane Ridge. We couldn’t find a good spot, without jumping a fence and falling down a short cliff into the water, so we started from about 15 meters above the waterline. The visitor’s center at the bottom of the Ridge didn’t open until 9am, but we stopped to use the restroom. Jeff fixed a leak in his air seat with a patch kit, and luckily it stayed inflated for the whole ride. The first 10 km of the 30 km climb to the top is an average of 7% grade, the middle section 5% and the final section 6%. I am glad that the steepest part of the ride was at the beginning, but I was a bit concerned because it was challenging to keep a decent pace without my heart rate going through the roof. We took our first long break after 10 km, and already we had gained 500 meters in elevation. In the past I have done many short hills to gain as much elevation as possible. This ride was great because you just kept going up, continuously gaining elevation. The ride became more challenging at the 1200-meter mark, and Jeff felt a bit of the elevation and the physical exertion required climbing 1200 meters in one day. Up to today, my largest gain in elevation in one day was 1250 meters, so I was pretty damn impressed that Jeff was doing so well going up the ridge to this point. He caught a ride the rest of the way to the top and we met him there. We arrived at the top of the Ridge with 1550 meters climbed in about 3 hours of riding time. The view at the top of the ridge was incredible. It was a beautiful day, so you could see all of the surrounding mountains. We hung out at the top for about 2 hours and then started our descent.

Leaving the top visitor’s center there was a sign that read, “Steep grade next 18 miles, Use lower gears” which I found amusing. We flew down the ridge, making it to the bottom in 2 hours. I really enjoyed the views on the way down, and the fact that my hear rate had gone from averaging 160-170 to 102-119 beats per minute. I used my break, but even so my knees started to hurt after 13 miles. I don’t think I used it enough as I should have. When John and I reached the lower visitors center, we had about 80 meters to climb in order to reach 1620 meters gained (a vertical mile) so we set off back up the ridge until we had enough to say that we joined the mile high club (the unicycling upward version, of course). Going up was easier for us than going back down. I think going downhill takes a lot of concentration and as John put it, “Unicycles are meant for pushing forward, not restraining,” and restraining is exactly what we did for 18 miles down the ridge.

When we got back to John’s car, we sat in the nice soft grass right next to it. I was a bit concerned because John didn’t seem to be moving very fast and I thought he might have been bonking. I asked him if he was OK and he replied, “I’m just enjoying this really soft grass. I wish I could grow grass on my unicycle, then it would be so much more comfortable.” I started laughing knowing exactly how nice it would have been to have the comfort of cushy, thick grass to sit on. We stopped in downtown Port Angeles to grab dinner at an Indian restaurant. Then we started our drive back home. There was about a 3-hour ferry wait for both the Edmonds-Kingston and Seattle-Bainbridge ferries so we drove down to Tacoma and back up to Seattle.

Distance: 65.42 km
Average: 13.2 km/h
Meters climbed: 1607 m
Average grade: 5%

More pictures can be found here:


Who else here is a member of the Mile High Club for climbing 5280 feet or more during a single ride?

Here’s an elevation profile for the climb up Hurricane Ridge. 18-19 miles of a pretty consistent climb.

The stats from my GPS for the ride:
Total Ascent: 5333 feet
Distance: 41.0 miles


What a great ride, climbing is so fun! Getting above it all brings an incredible feeling of accomplishment to oneself. Congrats on the super ride!

You guys are my heroes. What a great ride!

Not here, but it seems like a great goal for the rest of the season…

Cool ride! Irene, do you have a drag brake?

Awesome ride! I was with a group yesterday doing the Downieville Downhill. We only rode down 4000’. But it was really way too hot!!

On that ride you get a very strong reminder of how downhill is much more abusive to the legs than uphill on a unicycle. Only one of our group of six (the smart one) had a brake. Yes, there were sections where I was actually longing for uphill sections as a break from all the bumpy, rutty, technical downhill!

Hope it was well uner 95 degrees for your ride!

The weather in Port Angeles and Hurricane Ridge was perfect. 100% clear skies (no clouds to obstruct the views) and temperatures in the upper 70’s.

The only problem is that I didn’t spread the sun screen around on my legs. I used the spray type of sun screen. In the hurry to get going I forgot to spread it around on my legs to get an even coverage so I ended up with some splotches of redness on my legs. I did remember to spread it around on my face, neck, and arms. It’s only my legs that got neglected.

18 miles of constant downhill like that is tooooo much. I was wishing for it to end. At the top I was goofing around and riding mostly without the brake. Then I started using the brake more and more. For the bottom parts I was using the brake pretty constantly. My knees are not happy with me after that downhill. My legs are slightly sore from the downhill but nothing that causes me to walk funny or make it painful to walk downhill. When I did Downieville I remember my legs being so sore that I couldn’t walk downhill normally the next day. My legs are feeling much better now than they did after the Downieville ride.

When we turned around at the bottom so we could get an additional 200 feet or so of climbing to make it past the 5280 foot mark I was soooo happy to be going uphill again. The uphill was easy and was over with before I even knew it. Then we had to go back down.

I used 170mm cranks for the ride. I like the long cranks for climbs like this because you don’t have to put as much force into the pedals compared to shorter cranks. For climbs like this the long cranks don’t limit my speed. The long cranks only start to be limiting when going more than about 12 mph. We certainly weren’t going more than 12 mph up the climb. If there were long flat stretches where you want to spin and go fast then I might feel differently. Fortunately it was just a long steady climb with an evil long downhill.

My brake is a hand operated Magura. My brake fingers were getting cramped by the end of the downhill.

I was up around the Port Angeles area this weekend at Sequim and you’re right, the weather was perfect!!!

Looks like a really fun ride!!! I might try it sometime after a get a new uni that could handle that as comfortably as possible:D

**Cool ride! Irene, do you have a drag brake? **

Yes, I do use a drag brake. I haven’t had it hooked up lately when I ride because it hits the rim when I crank up hills. This ride was no problem because I rode to the top with it unhooked and then hooked it on before starting to ride down.

John Childs sent this to the Seattle Area Riders, and I thought it was worth posting:

I just saw this post on the BBTC (Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club) mailing list.
I hope we don’t reflect badly on the Canucks. :slight_smile:

Subject: OT: Unicycles on Hurricane Ridge

Rode up Hurricane Ridge Sunday on my road bike. As I was going up I saw not uni but dos unicyclists (guy and a gal) coming down. I assume they also rode up. NUTS! No brakes, no gears, no front wheel… Must have
been Canucks.


I’m not entirely sure what reference they are making… Maybe that we could be Canadian? The Canucks are a hockey team in Canada… Any thoughts?


Canuck is a slang or informal term for a Canadian kind of like Yankee for Americans. I think he was saying that only a group of Canadians would be crazy enough or odd enough to do that ride on unicycles.

Here’s a definition for Canuck from Wikipedia. Just be careful when using the term around French Canadians because some may take it to be slightly offensive or pejorative.

Re: We climbed one mile on Hurricane Ridge in Port Angeles, WA

You all are huge. You have my sincere admiration for doing so much vertical. 3500’ nearly killed me, so I’m all the more impressed.


Thanks Irene and John!

Brake rub on ascent is usually present except for highly-tensioned wheels with good geometry and a stiff frame. Your technique of unhooking the brake on the long ascent is a neat adaptation!

You are the holy people of the climb. I’m actually surprised that Jeff didn’t make it the entire way. He’s a goat.

I’m sorry I missed seeing Irene do the descent in drag like she said. And grass does grow around JC’s Coker, he moves so slow.