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: