RAMROD (Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day) is a popular bike event every year, known as a scenic and hard ride, encompassing 150 miles and 10,000 feet of climb. Although I make the effort to sign up for STP (Seattle To Portland) every year, I've never gotten around to attempting the lottery for RAMROD, but I have been inspired by the route. In this regard, I recently rode RIMROBOD (Ride the Interior of Mt. Rainier Out and Back in One Day). Yes, I made that up if it wasn't painfully obvious. Last year I did a similar ride but was met at White River Campground by a buddy and we drove back to my vehicle at Longmire. This time, no support whatsoever; I had to carry repair items (no SAG wagons) in case of mechanical difficulty....there is no cell phone coverage in the park....plus carry all my food as well as basic resting gear. Once again I called on my Zimmerbuilt Ultimate pack for this, carrying an EE Recon bivy, a half sized ZRest pad and Nunatak Skaha jacket and half bag.
RIMROBOD stats are daunting, not so much in the distance (121 miles) but in the amount of climbing over that distance: 15,600 feet. Starting at Longmire (2800'), the route immediately climbs to Paradise (5400'), then descends through Stevens Canyon (low point 2200') before heading north on State Route 123 to Cayuse Pass (4700'). From Cayuse pass I descended 1300' to the White River park entrance and negotiated the climb (contending with midday heat) to Sunrise, the highest point at 6400'. Totals up to this point, 62 miles and 11,000 feet of climb. After refueling at the Sunrise snack bar, I enjoyed probably the best part of the ride, one that RAMRODers don't see; the exhilarating descent from Sunrise, especially the "S" curves in the lower portion of Sunrise Park road. Reversing the route, the climbing eases with a 1300' climb back to Cayuse Pass and a 3100' climb up Stevens Canyon to the high point of Reflection Lakes (4900'). On the return I did not go back up to Paradise.
To pull this off I had to rely more on my ability to suffer versus actually being trained for such a grueling event. My vintage Trek 5500 is built for speed, and the lack of a "granny gear" for the climbs meant I couldn't efficiently spin, putting undue stress on the quads. Add in the fact that I am officially a Senior Pass holder and don't really bike that much, well, you can imagine the discomfort, but also the rewards. I stopped on the return leg at Box Canyon to lay out my bivy and get some rest, falling asleep peering up at the milky way on a moonless night at 9:30 PM. I awoke at 2:30 feeling refreshed and set out with plenty of time to beat the clock for Longmire, as to officially do this ride in "One Day" I had to arrive before 6:40 AM, my starting time, for sub 24 hours. This was no problem and I rode the deserted road up to Reflection Lakes and only ran into a few early birds in the opposite direction, probably heading to Paradise, arriving back at my vehicle at 5 AM just as the skies were lightening.
To film this ride and document RIMROBOD, I employed a GoPro Hero 5 in a GenusTech aluminum housing with an Eclipse variable ND filter mounted on my left shoulder. For backup I had my Contour Roam2 mounted to the front fork but didn't end up using any of this footage. The much improved mic on the Hero 5 allows for narration on the move without employing a separate mic. In the video that follows, and keeping with my documentation of rides in the park, I incorporated two uninterrupted sequences, the first being the descent out of Paradise via the Paradise Valley road (at 6:50), and the second the lower "S" curves on the Sunrise Park road (21:50).