PORT ANGELES — Hurricane Ridge belongs to the bikers Sunday morning.
That’s when Ride the Hurricane, an event years in the making, takes over Hurricane Ridge Road for a 12-mile ride from the Olympic National Park entrance station at Heart ‘O the Hills to the visitor center atop the Ridge.
The inaugural ride is being put on by the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.
It begins at 6 a.m., with cyclists allowed to register at the entrance station and ride up as late as 9 a.m.
“I’ve been working with Olympic National Park for quite a few years to make this happen,” chamber executive director Russ Veenema said. “We’ve had conversations about this for at least four or five years, and it just took a continued amount of time.
“That’s why we kept [participation] at 200 to make sure we had a very controlled group [the first time around]. We’ll see. If it goes well we’ll look at continuing to grow it.”
As of Thursday morning, there were still 20 open spots available for the ride, which is technically “recreational.”
Not that anyone considers the 12-mile, 3,300-foot elevation gain ride to be all that leisurely.
In fact, every rider who makes it all the way to the top will receive a certificate and picture commemorating the achievement.
There will be four aid/water stations spread out along the road, the last coming in front of the Swtichback Trail trailhead.
Once riders get to the top, they can celebrate with beverages and snacks, get a brief massage or talk with various local cycling vendors.
“If I was not organizing this event, I would give a go at riding,” Veenema said.
“It’s considered one of the premier uphill climbs in the country.
“We’ve got a really big cross section of folks [participating],” including “elite riders who will bang this out in an hour and half or hour and 15 minutes.”
Of course, riders have a lot more time to get up and down the mountain than that.
Olympic National Park agreed to close Hurricane Ridge Road from the entrance station to vehicle traffic until noon.
In order to ensure safety, all riders must begin heading down by 11:15 a.m.
Riders are also required to go descend in a group with a pilot car in front of them. That was one of the stipulations park officials insisted upon, Veenema said.
“People are really excited about the opportunity to ride Hurricane Ridge,” he said.
“It’s a very cycling-friendly rode. I think this could be the start of a very popular event.”
Among the local vendors that will set up shop atop the Ridge are Sound Bikes and Kayaks and Adventures through Kayaking.
Ruddell Auto Mall will supply all of the pilot cars, and Therapeutic Associates Port Angeles will provide massages.
Cost to participate is $25.Participants can pay with a credit card by contacting Veenema at 360-452 2363 (ext. 13) or with a check at the entrance station the day of the ride.