OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — It was all about pumping up. And hurtling down.
Ascension to Hurricane Ridge was care- and car-free for some 310 bicyclists Sunday morning for Ride the Hurricane, a recreational jaunt hosted by the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce for the second year in a row.
The trek — 12 to 17 miles each way depending on whether you started at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles or from the Heart O’ the Hills gate — turned Hurricane Ridge Road into a quiet byway.
Don Kronenberg of Seattle pedaled up and back with his buddy David Britton of Sequim, reaching the Ridge in about two hours; Kronenberg said it wasn’t that tough of a climb. Rather, “it was wonderful.”
Going up is more pleasureable, added Britton, than coming down, since a body gets quite cold when not exerting itself.
The best part of Ride the Hurricane, to these men, is the beauty.
“When you’re in a car, you don’t see as much,” said Britton. Sure, you catch some “peek-a-boo views” of the mountains and valley while vrooming up in a motorized vehicle. On a bicycle, you have good, long lookouts at splendor.
“We were being pedestrians,” Britton added; there’s no need to hurry past the wildflowers after all.
The event drew about 100 more riders than last year’s. They flew in from as far away as Florida, and 15 came from British Columbia, said Vanessa Fuller, the chamber’s events director.
“We had so many people say they loved the ride, and that they’ll come back next year, and bring friends,” she added.
Each cyclist paid a $35 entry fee, with $2 of that going toward Olympic National Park’s fund to keep Hurricane Ridge Road open all winter. The rest paid for insurance and mustard-yellow commemorative T-shirts for riders and volunteers.
Many riders were recruited by friends and relatives: Jennifer Johnson of Port Angeles invited her son Joel, who lives in Savannah, Ga., out for some elevation change. There isn’t much of that in south Georgia.
Johnson rode the Hurricane last year, too, and returned for the peace.
“The big draw for me,” she said, “is that I can do it without traffic,” with no worries about trucks and cars around every bend.
Darcy Schneider-Hobbs of Port Angeles likewise appreciated the freedom from exhaust fumes. She and her sons Mitchell Hobbs, 13, and Blake Hobbs, 10, rode the Hurricane together.
At 6:20 a.m., 40 minutes before the official road closure, Lyman Moores of Sequim and his friend Brenda Wilson of Bellingham were wheeling their bikes across the Heart O’the Hills parking lot.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” Wilson said. Moores, meantime, acknowledged that there might be a little pain and fatigue involved. The key, he said, is to “get in the groove, and don’t stop.”
Laurie Szczepczynski of Port Angeles made it to the ridge in two hours and 20 minutes; “it was great,” she said. She did it “just to see if I could.”
And what does one do after such a ride?
Szczepczynski was headed for the annual corn roast hosted by Andrew May at his home south of Port Angeles.
“I’m going to eat everything there,” she said.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.