Cyclists swarm into Olympic National Park for Ride the Hurricane

With an 800-person cap, some stayed on waiting list

Cyclists are required to wear a helmet and keep their number bib visible at all times during Ride the Hurricane. Only registered riders can participate in the popular annual event — one of the rare times the road to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park is closed to traffic. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula Daily News)

Cyclists are required to wear a helmet and keep their number bib visible at all times during Ride the Hurricane. Only registered riders can participate in the popular annual event — one of the rare times the road to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park is closed to traffic. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula Daily News)

PORT ANGELES — Shaun Bishop of Puyallup added a fifth jersey to his Ride the Hurricane collection when he registered for Sunday’s annual cycling event that had riders pedaling from Port Angeles City Pier to the 5,242-foot summit of Hurricane Ridge and back.

From 7 a.m. to noon, the road from the entrance to Olympic National Park at Heart O’ the Hills was closed to traffic, giving cyclists a rare opportunity to focus on the challenge of getting to the top without worrying about vehicular traffic.

Bishop, 44, said he keeps returning to Ride the Hurricane for the simple reason that he likes being outside and riding his bike.

“You just need to pace yourself, find a gear and stick to it,” Bishop said. “And don’t forget to enjoy the view.”

This year’s event was the first since 2019 in which Canadians could participate; COVID travel restrictions in 2020 and 2021 prevented them from taking part.

Karen Hough, 65, and Jacqueline Zweng, 44, of Victoria, B.C., and Alex Kennedy, 52, of Courtney, B.C., were among the 85 or so Canadian cyclists who arrived on the 7:40 a.m. Coho ferry Sunday morning.

Hough was the only one of the three who had participated in Ride the Hurricane before.

Zweng admitted it was the first time she’d ever ridden the Coho.

“I’m looking forward to getting to the top and seeing Victoria,” Zweng said. “I’ve never seen it from that perspective before.”

Hough said her only advice to her friends was: “Not getting to the top is not an option, even if you have to crawl there.”

The park limits the number of participants in Ride the Hurricane to 800, but Leslie Robertson, Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce events manager, said she wouldn’t be surprised if twice that many people would sign up if there were no cap.

About 200 people were on the waiting list Sunday who wanted to participate, she said.

“I get emails saying, “‘I will pay double!’ and ‘Please, please, please let me in!,’” Robertson said.

If Ride the Hurricane continued to attract more participants and the waiting list continued to grow, the chamber, which organizes the event, might switch to a lottery system or tiered pricing to encourage people to register early, she said.

Carson Smith, 25, of Victoria, was a lucky wait-list cyclist who scored a spot.

Smith first heard about Ride the Hurricane last week when he and a group of friends came over and rode to the top of Hurricane Ridge.

“I was really eager to take part,” Smith said. “It’s not a race. You just go at your own pace, you don’t have to ride hard and go crazy.”

Amid the sea of Lycra bike shorts and colorful cycling jerseys, Rowan Schatz, 22, stood out in his olive green cargo shorts and T-shirt. Instead of clipless cycling shoes, he wore black canvas sneakers and a blue plastic milk crate was lashed to the handlebars of his bike because, he said, “I didn’t want to bother to break it down.”

A co-worker in the Port Townsend shipyard where Schatz works as a shipwright told him about the event last spring, so he signed up and recruited a friend, Piper Dunlap, 64, to join him.

Dunlap had an equally laid-back approach to gear: a T-shirt, plaid cotton shorts and Birkenstock sandals, which he said he’d switch out for clip shoes for the ride.

Schatz said he didn’t train for the ride, but since he rode his bike everywhere — including pedaling from Port Townsend to Port Angeles on Saturday night rather than driving — he said he felt prepared.

“We just want to make it to the top and have a good time,” he said.

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Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached by email at [email protected]

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