Friday, July 31, 2015

Mangs take on the RAMROD and finish together!

This entry is from a guest blogger - my good friend Mang Raf who rode last year and this year's RAMROD (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day) - so its a better perspective than mine.  Enjoy...

Mangs taking a break at one of the rest stops

"RAMROD 2015 was back to its original route after deviating from it for last year’s edition. The sun came out and along with it the breathtaking views of Mt Rainier and the surrounding areas which made for a really gorgeous day.

Mangs Amor, Carlo, Cris, Ferdie, Fred, Pete, Raf, and Roland set out for the course just before 6AM with the plan of sticking together until finish. Mang Ferdie and Mang Roland set the tone for the first leg of the ride (this will be a recurring theme) with Mang Fred interjecting with inspired breakaway attempts right at the start. The pace line speed was still relaxed at around 16-18mph at this point and was about 15 miles into the ride when we went for a pit stop. It was then that the team realized it was pulling several other teams that were enjoying the warmup behind the Team Mang train. Nice.

A Team Mang staple on every ride - the inevitable selfie shot!
The ride to the first stop at Eatonville was nice and steady. We meet up with Mang Joe. He was riding with his other group with one of member  more than happy to spill some funny-silly beans on Mang Joe [Joe, we can be bribed :-) ]. The pace and elevation started to pick up after the stop that caused the train to stretch and created two sub groups. Mang Roland did some heavy pulling going 20+mph with Mangs Amor, Carlo, Fred, and Raf giving him push while Mangs Cris and Ferdie pulled Mang Pete. We all meet up at the second stop in Ashford. We endured our first mechanical issue with a loose rear wheel hub.

The leg after Ashford is where the ride really started to climb higher and higher. Mang Fred, still highly-energized, attempted another breakaway. Mang Carlo, with his 12-25t cassette, set the climbing pace right at the Nisqually entrance of Mt Rainier National Park on the way up to Paradise. He alternated with Mangs Cris and Ferdie at various stages of the climb. Eventually the trio outpaced the rest of the team at Longmire and off they went. A second and third sub group formed. Mangs Roland, Fred, and Raf alternated pulling each other with Mang Roland doing his usual singing to keep things light. Mangs Amor and Pete rode together as the third sub group.  The first and second sub group reunited at Inspiration Point and also met up with Rain City Cycling. Photo ops galore.

The ride from Inspiration Point all the way down through Stevens Canyon has to be one of the best parts of the ride. The descent was fast – one can easily hit 40mph without even pedaling – and the views were simply amazing. We missed this from last year’s route. I highly recommend this portion of the ride as a must-see/ride.

The team got all reunited once again at the rest area at the bottom of Stevens Canyon. We endured our second mechanical here with the same problematic rear wheel.

The ascent to Backbone Ridge was when the temperature really started to play a big factor on the team. Heat fatigue was setting in. Tan lines were being seared on skin. Ice-cold drinks/ice warmed up/melted down in no time. It proved to be a short climb and lead to a fun 5-mile descent onto the Grove of the Patriarchs.

The fun eventually led to the main crucible of the ride – the climb up Cayuse Pass. We started out all together until varying paces led to another round of several sub groupings. Mang Fast Ferdie and Mang Cris led the charge. Mangs Carlo, Roland, Raf, and Amor bunched together and waited for Mang Fred who was not too far behind. Mang Pete soldiered on. The air and ground temperature got so hot that articles of clothing were getting removed and drinks were instead getting poured on the riders in attempts to cool-off. This sub-grouping continued on until the top of Cayuse Pass at the intersection of Highway 410. Mang Roland broke away off the second group close to the top of Cayuse but got reunited after one mile. He did his best Tarzan impersonation by doing the Tarzan yell to notify us where he was resting on the side of the pass. Maybe it was the hard climb, or the scorching heat, or maybe both but his yell was a welcome cheer. At the top of Cayuse, Mangs Roland and Fred sought refuge in one of the ambulances stationed and took advantage of the A/C. The ambulance was being manned by two lovely lady EMTs and the ever quick-thinking Mang Roland asked one of them to check on his heart (beat). Playa.
Mangs at the Finish Line - 149 miles around Mount Rainier

Mangs Ferdie, Cris, Roland, Amor, Fred, Carlo, and Raf all got reunited once again at the deli stop at the Crystal Mountain parking lot. Kudos to Mangs Ferdie and Cris for waiting. Inhaled food and drinks. Replenished supplies. Stretched limbs. We were all ready to make the final push until we realized Mang Pete was still nowhere to be found. Mang Cris volunteered to stay behind and wait. But true to word, everyone decided to wait and ride to the finish all together.

The ride from Crystal Mountain deli stop back to the finish at Enumclaw was magical. This was where Mang Fast Ferdie and Mang Roland truly showed their veteran leadership, cycling skills, and overall positive attitude by controlling the entire team (and a few other hangers-on). Mang Ferdie would set the pace, shout out instructions, and utter words of encouragement to everyone. Mang Roland added his jovial attitude and kept spirits up.  Mangs Ferdie, Roland, Cris, Raf, and Fred alternated on pulling duties at a pace ranging from 20-27mph. Mang Roland, who was once again back to almost full strength, didn’t even realize that he was actually breaking away when all he was trying to do was take his turn to pull. Mang Ferdie was quick to reel him in. 

With two miles to go on Highway 410, Mang Ferdie and Mang Roland broke away. But, again, true to word, they waited for everyone at the left turn leading to Mud Mountain. All the Mangs started arriving and we made our way down Mud Mountain and rode on a 2 x 2 formation as far as the road emptiness would allow us. The Team, all eight riders - Mang Amor, Mang Carlo, Mang Cris, Mang Ferdie, Mang Fred, Mang Pete, Mang Raf, and Mang Roland - , crossed the finish line TOGETHER a little after 6PM. The fast guys, Mangs Ferdie, Roland, Cris to name a few, could've have finished much much sooner but they chose to keep the entire team riding altogether. Kudos to them!

This year’s RAMROD proved to be an awesome experience for Team Mang. Everyone stepped up and passed the test of skills and character that RAMROD threw at the team. In the end, the shared experience by the eight Team Mang riders will be remembered for a long time. Walang iwanan! (No one left behind!)"