OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Nearly 300 riders are expected on Hurricane Ridge Road in the Ride the Hurricane bike ride set Sunday.
And $2 of each rider’s $35 registration fee will go toward keeping full-time winter access to Hurricane Ridge.
“Right now, I have about 240” riders registered for the recreational ride, said Russ Veenema, executive director of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the second annual event, on Thursday, “and it’s growing by the minute.
“I expect by Sunday to probably have 275 to 300,” he said.
Olympic National Park will close Hurricane Ridge Road to all vehicle traffic between the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station and Hurricane Ridge from 5 a.m. to noon Sunday.
The closure applies to both uphill and downhill travel, as well as cyclists who are not registered for Ride the Hurricane.
After that, the park will waive entrance fees at the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station for the rest of the day.
“Cyclists will have the road to themselves all morning, and it will give participants a unique way to enjoy their national park,” said Karen Gustin, park superintendent.
“After the last rider has finished, we’re pleased to offer a fee-free afternoon for all visitors to Hurricane Ridge.”
During the morning closure, access to the Lake Angeles-Heather Park trailhead and Heart O’ the Hills campground will remain open.
Riders will have two options as to where they start their ride.
Starting from the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station to Hurricane Ridge, which is at an elevation of 5,242 feet, riders will climb more than 3,300 feet on the 12-mile, one-way ascent.
Cyclists may opt for a longer ride, starting from the Olympic National Park Visitor Center at 3002 Mount Angeles Road, gaining approximately 4,300 feet over the 18 miles to the Ridge.
The official start time from both locations is 7 a.m., but riders may start at any time before 10 a.m.
Riders can register the day of the ride at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center.
After completing their summit, participants will follow pilot cars on their descent.
Pilot cars will leave Hurricane Ridge approximately every 20 minutes, with 15 to 20 riders following each pilot car.
All riders should be started downhill by 11:30 a.m., as Hurricane Ridge Road will reopen to vehicles at noon.
Two dollars of the registration fee for the ride will go into a community fund to keep Hurricane Ridge Road open year-round.
Community donations of $75,000 are needed to match a $250,000 federal Department of Interior pledge to keep the road open daily, except during storms, from late fall to early spring.
In 2010, Interior agreed to provide the funds for two or three years if the community raised $75,000 each year of the trial.
The road had previously been kept open on weekends and holidays during the winter.
Port Angeles City Councilwoman Cherie Kidd, a leader of the fundraising campaign, has said the community is “very close” to making its goal this year.
The deadline for funds is Monday.
Each Ride the Hurricane rider will receive a personal photo from Hurricane Ridge, a Ride the Hurricane T-shirt and refreshments.
Aid stations will be available roughly every four miles.
Water and toilets will be at each station along with limited bike repair at two of the four stations.
Ride the Hurricane is sponsored by Black Ball Ferry Line, Olympic Medical Center and Ruddell Auto Mall.
For more information, and to register, visit the chamber’s website at www.portangeles.org/ride-the-hurricane.html.