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The RAMROD Chronicles 1: Earning a ticket for ’09

Post by Craig Hill / The News Tribune on July 31, 2008 at 1:32 pm with No Comments »
July 31, 2008 1:32 pm

We’re launching a new project today.

Over the next year I’ll keep you updated as I train for the 2009 RAMROD – Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day. RAMROD is a one-day 154-mile ride that climbs 10,000 vertical feet.

Sound brutal? Well cyclists sign up in droves for this torture. In fact there is only room for 800 cyclists but almost twice that many sign up. The riders are selected by lottery.

I didn’t get in this year so I’m starting now for next year by volunteering at this year’s ride. By volunteering I assure myself of a spot in the 2009 ride.

I spent last night at a cabin in Ashford with 10 fellow volunteers with cycling exploits that made me feel quite inadequate.

One volunteer is training for Ironman. One just won a 538-mile race across Oregon. Another recently road 700 miles in 90 hours. Another used cycling to melt 10 inches off his waist.

Not sure I can keep up with any of these guys, but we do have one thing in common – we’re willing to spend a day smearing peanut butter on bagels for the chance to torture our bodies next summer.

Volunteering is tough. We spent last night eating salmon and lasagna.

This morning we were up at about 5:30 and dished out bagels and fruit to cyclists about 60 miles into the ride. Most were quite happy at this juncture but the hardest part of the ride was still in front of them.

From here, near the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, the riders climb to Paradise then descend rapidly to Ohanapecosh. Then, 100 miles into the ride, they begin a 12-mile climb to Cayuse Pass.

The first rider reached our food stop at 8:03 a.m. and the first riders stopped at 8:14. By 8:40 the masses were starting to arrive and by 9:30 the line stretch about 100 feet.

All went smoothly with no major complaints from the cyclists. And most complaints could be addressed. One volunteer, Damon, even picked the nuts out of crunchy peanut butter for a cyclist with braces.

By 10:40 a.m. most of the cyclists were on to the big hills and we were cleaning up.

Now comes the hard part – training for next year when I’ll be on the other side of the food table.

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