You know how sometimes you want to do something, but then when you're doing it, you wonder why you wanted to? Well, that was me today. I'd always wanted to do Hurricane Ridge - a climb in Port Angeles, WA - but timing had never worked out. This year it was going to happen, and I recruited Kris and Michelle to do it with me. Here's a preview to the story:
Elevation profile. Yeah, starts at sea level and ends over 5000 feet.
The day started just before 4am when my alarm clock went off. I don't like early mornings, but sometimes they're a necessary evil. I drove into Victoria to meet K&M at their place, then we rode downtown to the Coho ferry 6:10am sailing. The sun was just coming up as we were leaving the inner harbour, and we settled in for the 1.5 hour crossing to Port Angeles.
Leaving Victoria as the sun is coming up.
Our bikes on the ferry.
Arriving in Port Angeles. Often gloomy. I guess
that explains all the vampires?
As soon as you get off the ferry, you start going up. I guess that is stating the obvious since at sea level there really is only one way to go. Anyway. The climb officially started in my mind at the visitors center at the bottom, where the three of us removed things like jackets that we wouldn't need, and headed up at our own pace.
Kris was out of sight pretty quickly as I turned the pedals over and over. The first 8 km of this 28 km climb were tough; there really is no gradual warmup. Just before the toll plaza (where the annual Canada Day Climb officially starts from) it levels off a bit and I remembered what a real cadence felt like. A quick stop to pay my park entrance fee, no Kris in sight ahead and no Michelle in sight behind, so it was back in the saddle on my own, climbing climbing climbing with no breaks.
Mother Nature was kind to us by giving us a cool blanket of marine layer fog today. After the toll booth I entered the clouds, and it felt great to have the moist cool air keeping me company. The road went through a series of three tunnels, then up some more, and soon enough I was poking my head out of the clouds into the blue sky.
Into the clouds.
Out of the clouds, still going up.
I just kept climbing. What else was I to do, really. Kilometers ticked by, and my small chainring was earning its keep. I didn't want to stop (well, actually I did want to stop). Once in the final few kms, the road kicked up again and I was pretty happy to have the 27 in the back. The last 5km were interminable; I felt like every time I rounded a corner I should see the visitors center at the summit, but all I saw was another corner. Then another corner. Then another.
Finally, the summit appeared and Kris met me at the top. Total climb from the base center was 2:48 (just under 2 hours from the toll booth where "official" times are usually taken). I was pretty happy to be getting off my bike to wait for Michelle, but first headed into the cafeteria for a snack. I emerged with a coke and some freshly-made in house chips which Kris and I made short work of. Sorry Michelle!
The summit at last.
Michelle arrived, but no time to celebrate as we needed to bomb back down to make the 12:45 ferry home, as we didn't want to wait around for the 5:15. Jackets back on, but the first half of the descent in the sunshine was nice and warm, with thermals blowing up from the valley below. Those interminable last few kms climbing up disappeared in about 5 minutes as we blasted down.
After the first few corners, I decided to take it pretty easy on the descent as I was tired and didn't want to make a mistake. Still spent most of the descent cruising around 50km/h. Soon enough we were headed back into the clouds, which hugged us with cold, wispy arms. Despite my jacket, my teeth were chattering through those few damp kms. Once we were below the clouds it wasn't bad as the air was warm again. We regrouped at the base (descent time - from summit visitors center to base visitors center 37 min), then rode through Port Angeles onto the ferry for the trip back to sunny Victoria.
Now time to rest up as I'm racing on Sunday!