OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Hundreds of cyclists from around the United States and Canada are expected in Port Angeles on Sunday to participate in the seventh annual Ride the Hurricane.
The Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce is organizing the ride in cooperation with Olympic National Park, with sponsorship from local businesses.
“I am getting people” from Texas, California, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon and Canada, said Marc Abshire, chamber executive director.
The event is a recreational climb, not a race, into the Olympic Mountains on the scenic Hurricane Ridge Road.
Registration is $40.
Non-registered cyclists can also ride on Hurricane Ridge Road during the event but will not have access to event services or amenities.
The ride is open to Peninsula residents who do not have to be professional cyclists to participate, Abshire said.
“I would encourage anybody” to join the ride, he said.
Riders can pick one of three routes depending on their skill, experience and level of fitness, Abshire said.
They can start at the entrance gate by Heart o’ the Hills campground for a 24-mile round trip, from the base of the lower ridge road for a 36-mile round trip or from sea level in Port Angeles for a 41-mile ride, according to www.port angeles.org.
“I think some riders were looking for a longer route, and that is why we organized it this way where they can go a little bit farther” from sea level, Abshire said.
The 24-mile round trip starts at roughly 1,100 feet while the 36-mile round trip starts at 700 feet. The summit is at about 5,200 feet.
The round trip from sea level will start at the west parking lot at Peninsula College, then head down Ennis Street to the former Rayonier Mill site, where riders can access the Olympic Discovery Trail.
Riders then will follow the trail to Francis Street Park, then head up Francis Street two blocks to Georgiana Street, where they will head left and travel one block before turning right on Race Street and continuing on to Hurricane Ridge.
The ride allows cyclists to have the park’s Hurricane Ridge Road all to themselves and free of vehicles from 7 a.m. to noon Sunday.
“The reason [riders] love it is because they can do this beautiful ride without having to deal with traffic on the road,” Abshire said.
The road is closed to all motor vehicle traffic — except event support vehicles — between the Heart o’ the Hills entrance station and Hurricane Ridge as a safety precaution. This applies to both uphill and downhill travel.
The road will reopen to traffic at noon, when the event is finished.
At that time, the park will waive entrance fees at the Heart o’ the Hills entrance station for the rest of the day.
“That is a little bit of an inconvenience for people who may have decided they want to go up that morning” in a vehicle, Abshire said.
“They are making it free to drive up there in the afternoon … to sort of make up for the inconvenience of not being able to drive up there in the morning.”
Access to the Lake Angeles-Heather Park trailhead and Heart o’ the Hills Campground will remain open throughout the day.
Registration for all ride options opens at 6 a.m. at the Peninsula College parking lot, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Riders can start the longer ride from the Peninsula College parking lot using the lower ridge road after registration, but the Heart o’ the Hills access gate to the upper section of Hurricane Ridge Road will not open until 7 a.m., at which time all riders can proceed.
All riders must show the official event wristband to proceed past Heart o’ the Hills.
The lower ridge road is not closed to traffic. As such, riders are asked to ride single file and be mindful of vehicles.
The ridge road from the entrance station will be closed to vehicles except for a few event support vehicles. Riders will be coming down at speed, so it is important to ride in the right lane, both going up and coming down.
To register for Ride the Hurricane, see the Port Angeles chamber website at www.portangeles.org.
For more information, call 360-452-2363.
Features Editor Chris McDaniel can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or cmcdaniel@ peninsuladailynews.com.