See my prior post on the RIMROBOD Short Course for background. Question: how can one enjoy the incredible scenery of Mt. Rainier National Park and avoid the "garbage miles" of RAMROD (Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day: 150 miles/10,000' climb)? My answer is various iterations of RIMROBOD (Ride the Interior of Mt. Rainier Out and Back in One Day: 121 miles/15,600' climb). My first event in 2017 started at Longmire where I rode to the other side of the park (Sunrise) and back, taking under 24 hours but necessitating a nap in the wee hours to recharge. The benefit of the Century iteration for me was being able to do the better part of this ride in 12 hours total (10:28 moving time).
By staying within the confines of Mt. Rainier National Park the cyclist can enjoy a nonstop barrage of eye popping scenery, all the while either climbing or descending, challenging the legs with 11,400' of climb (this Century iteration) while keeping the overall mileage to 100 miles. The beauty of the out and back ride is the different scenery one takes in doing both directions. By positioning my vehicle at Box Canyon, I was able to do the better part of the climbing during daylight hours (an accomplished cyclist could certainly do these rides much faster). In quick succession, one climbs to Backbone Ridge, Cayuse Pass, Chinook Pass, Sunrise and back, logging 10,000’ of climb in less than 90 miles. At Box Canyon, I could choose to continue up the Stevens Canyon road, logging more climb….on this day I chose to turn back below Reflection Lakes as darkness was descending and my total mileage would make the century mark. Although I descended in darkness this road is open and vistas still abound, a caveat being I had to concentrate on the road only visible by my bike light circle.
I have spent years hiking, biking and skiing in this park, and biking the roads within its confines serve up not only a scenic palette but provide any challenge I can think of. There are other benefits; there is little to no cell phone coverage on these roads so the danger of inattentive idiots texting is greatly reduced. The speed limits are usually 35 mph with a smattering of 45 (mostly on highways 410 and 123). The grades of all these climbs are not especially steep, so motoring up the hills for hours on end is possible for anyone with a modicum of cycling background. These milder grades also mean I don’t have to ride the brakes on the descents….only rarely have I even approached 40 mph, with most downhill speeds between 25 and 35 mph. And the smells….fresh air filtered by the surrounding forests, rife with flowered air in summer and nostril burning cold smacking your face by 30 mph speed induced winds in the fall (like this ride).
For background, I’ve always had bikes but was never a “true” cyclist (nor am I now). Sometimes my bike(s) will sit for weeks with no use. But I used to think riding from Longmire to Paradise (11 miles, 2600’) was a killer. Until I did more. Then after that I tried longer. Just like I was able to work up to ultra marathons when I was running, I have found that I can work up to 10,000’ days on a bike in the same manner….just plodding along and doing it, answering that 4 AM alarm, when sleeping in would be oh so much better. Believe me, when you finish a day like this, you know you’re alive.
Technicals: Salsa Cutthroat Rival bike/Snoqualmie Pass road tires (tubeless), Rapha top/bib with PI thermals, GoPro Hero 7 Black chest mount