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Old 06-21-08, 08:03 PM   #1
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Riding up Mt. St. Helens: pics from Tour de Blast

As I've posted here before, my "challenge" goal this year was to ride the "Tour de Blast" - the annual 82-mile ride from Toutle, Washington, up to the observatory overlooking the crater on Mt. St. Helens. Basically 41 miles up, 41 miles back.

First, the bad news: I lost my Garmin (it fell off when I was going over a bridge, I think it fell off the side cause i couldn't find it). So no ride stats (I was averaging 11.4 mph when I got to the top, which included many climbing miles at 7 mph. I was averaging 13 mph with 20 miles to go; the last 20 miles were downhill to flattish, I was going about 39 mph down the mountain when I lost the Garmin...so you do the math on my final speed). The organizers claim there are about 6,240 feet of climbing on the ride, most of which occurs from mile 11 to mile 42.

Second, the great news: what a fantastic ride! Great weather (55-ish at the start, 75 as a high...no rain or snow, as in past years). I'm really excited that this was such a great ride; 18 months ago when I got back on my bike this would have killed me.

Without further ado, the pics:

Plaque at a rest stop showing the route -- basically from the town of Toutle, just off I-5, up the memorial highway that was built after the volcano eruption (for those of you outside the area...this is roughly half-way between Portland and Seattle. It's a must-see if you're visiting either city in the summer. The road is closed in the winter).



First really good view of the star of the show (note: by "star", I mean the volcano, not the butt in front of me).



This valley was inundated with mud after the eruption...the forest you see has all grown since the volcano erupted.



My bike waiting for its turn in the porta potty.


The last climb toward the end was the steepest - 6 miles of 8 to 10% grade, with a fair amount of wind at the top. These mountaintops were all blasted bare by the eruption.

Last edited by BengeBoy; 06-21-08 at 09:07 PM.
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Old 06-21-08, 08:07 PM   #2
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Another shot of the final ascent. Stopping to take photos was a good excuse to rest...



Close-up view of crater from the observatory. In April, a guy riding a snowmobile up to the crater from the side opposite this photo fell into the crater....he fell and slid 1,500 feet before being rescued (by helicopter). He's the first person known to have fallen into the crater.
http://abcnews.go.com/WN/story?id=4651579&page=1



Historical photo of the mountain pre-eruption...



Rest area at the parking lot at the top. Pretty snowy around the edges...



Bike, chillin' out in the snow...


The descent begins; none of us obeyed the speed limit...




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Old 06-21-08, 08:10 PM   #3
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Me, on the way down. My son calls this my "goofball" smile. I'm just happy at this point to be standing...







My bike again, taking it easy...the last photo ever of my now-departed Garmin GPS.


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Old 06-21-08, 08:32 PM   #4
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Great pictures. Congratulations on the ride.

Too bad about the Garmin. Was it not fastened to the mount tightly?
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Old 06-21-08, 08:37 PM   #5
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Great pictures. Congratulations on the ride.

Too bad about the Garmin. Was it not fastened to the mount tightly?
I thought it was tigthened securely, but on closer inspection I think a strap from the handlebar bag I was using interfered slightly with the mounting mechanism.

I had two bags on my bike today because the weather forecast was iffy...I had a complete set of winter clothes in my seat bag and handlebar bag...(rain jacket, tights, an undershirt, full-fingered gloves, booties). The weather forecast had been for rain and gusting winds at the top, but that front never moved in (it's coming tomorrow). In past years folks have frozen on the way down.

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Old 06-21-08, 08:46 PM   #6
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What a beautiful place to ride and what great photos. Thanks. Red Rider and I lived in the Tri-cities when the mountain blew. I was working night shift and had just got to bed when it went off. We heard it and felt it 90 miles away. It was only a matter of minutes before the ash cloud moved in. We took the kids up there in 1995 and went hiking in and around the area. It was 15 years later and still awe inspiring. Your pictures bring all those memories back. Thanks again.
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Old 06-21-08, 08:55 PM   #7
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Those are great pictures. I've wanted to go up there for years, but I'd have to drive up. Or have you tow me.
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Old 06-21-08, 09:20 PM   #8
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Nice photos

Did you not get to experiance the wind gust. I almost ate the gaurd rail four times on the way up
Great day for the ride .. save for that wind anyway.
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Old 06-21-08, 09:28 PM   #9
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Nice photos

Did you not get to experiance the wind gust. I almost ate the gaurd rail four times on the way up
Great day for the ride .. save for that wind anyway.
Yeah, the wind was a little exciting at times. I was so happy it didn't rain, though, that I wasn't complaining.

Sorry I missed you...I know you posted your bike ID over on the Northwest forum but I couldn't remember any of the details.

I recognized BF member mattm from his blog ("Cycling in Seattle") and because he was wearing a Seattle International Randonneurs jersey.

BTW, I'm now thinking about the High Pass Challenge. I know you posted that it's "much tougher" than the Tour de Blast, but I felt pretty good today (save for some shoe problems which were surprising to me...). I have 2.5 months to get ready...

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Old 06-21-08, 09:32 PM   #10
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Nice pics. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 06-21-08, 10:13 PM   #11
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Sounds and looks like you had a great ride. The pics are outstanding! I suppose I've never seen the views you shot. I never realized how much of that mountain was blown away. Amazing. Thanks for posting.
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Old 06-21-08, 10:16 PM   #12
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Yeah, the wind was a little exciting at times. I was so happy it didn't rain, though, that I wasn't complaining.

Sorry I missed you...I know you posted your bike ID over on the Northwest forum but I couldn't remember any of the details.

I recognized BF member mattm from his blog ("Cycling in Seattle") and because he was wearing a Seattle International Randonneurs jersey.

BTW, I'm now thinking about the High Pass Challenge. I know you posted that it's "much tougher" than the Tour de Blast, but I felt pretty good today (save for some shoe problems which were surprising to me...). I have 2.5 months to get ready...
The climbing is realy not bad I think another 1000' or so. I think a lot of what made it tough for me is that I had only been riding for about 7 months when I did it. Prior to that ride the longest thing I had done was the blast ride.

That and the fact that it was a lot colder than I was prepared for at the top, The ride is three weeks earlier this year. So hopefully it will be a little warmer time . The hills are not any harder than the ones you rode today. Just ride lots of hills between now and then, get some millage in and you will do fine. I will be there we will have to try to meet up.

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Old 06-21-08, 10:23 PM   #13
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Some of the greatest ride photos I've ever seen. I think I would like to do this ride. Can it be done without all the climbing? Thanks.
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Old 06-21-08, 10:56 PM   #14
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Wow! Breathtaking. Thanks for posting, BengeBoy.
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Old 06-21-08, 10:57 PM   #15
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I didn't see your bike so we apparently never passed each other. What time did you start and finish? I did not see East Hill either. Maybe BF'ers should use a marking pen to write BF on their bib number.

I have a Garmin too. Did you see the link on the Electronics forum with the photo of the Garmin that was used in the Paris-Roubaix? Whoever it belonged to used to extra cable ties to strap it to the mount. Mine is hard to slide out because it bumps against one of the stem bolts--maybe that's a good thing.

Nice pictures.
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Old 06-22-08, 12:09 AM   #16
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What an amazing ride! Pat yourself on the back.
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Old 06-22-08, 12:26 AM   #17
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I could try a ride like that ... after sneaking an electric assist hub motor onto my bike.
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Old 06-22-08, 12:27 AM   #18
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To be honest and I would not be without my Garmin now so am feeling your loss. Great pics by the way- but my trip up a mountain last year and I can understand why you felt the need to carry extra clothing. I rode up into the cloud and the way down was cold. Only had a couple of miles before I met the wife- but that was done very slowly and on the brakes all the way.
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Old 06-22-08, 12:37 AM   #19
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I didn't see your bike so we apparently never passed each other. What time did you start and finish? I did not see East Hill either. Maybe BF'ers should use a marking pen to write BF on their bib number.
I have a couple of garish jerseys on order that will make me easier to spot in the future -- one is the BF 50+ jersey.
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Old 06-22-08, 01:33 AM   #20
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Wow. Just... wow.
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Old 06-22-08, 05:46 AM   #21
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Amazing photos! Also, congrats on having a great ride! I live in NY now but I'm from Wenatchee, WA, and lived there when the mountain blew. I'd love to do that ride sometime!

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Old 06-22-08, 06:09 AM   #22
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I didn't see your bike so we apparently never passed each other. What time did you start and finish? I did not see East Hill either. Maybe BF'ers should use a marking pen to write BF on their bib number.

I have a Garmin too. Did you see the link on the Electronics forum with the photo of the Garmin that was used in the Paris-Roubaix? Whoever it belonged to used to extra cable ties to strap it to the mount. Mine is hard to slide out because it bumps against one of the stem bolts--maybe that's a good thing.

Nice pictures.
You didn't see me because I thought the ride was on SUNDAY . I had to work yesterday anyway.

That's a good suggestion, though. There must be an easier way of meeting up with the BF people.

Nice photos, BB.

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Old 06-22-08, 06:42 AM   #23
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Very nice BengeBoy. I've been there a couple of times and never fail to be impressed by the majesty of that mountain... and the devastation the eruption caused.

I'd love to do that ride sometime. But I'm too much of a wuss to deal with snow, rain and cold temps on a bicycle!

I feel your pain about the lost Garmin. What was it? Edge 305?

I noticed that you piggybacked your frame pump to one of the waterbottle cages. Just curious what type frame pump and where you got the mount?

I just last week found that Topeak has a mount for the RoadMorphG that will work with a bottle cage and am waiting for it to come in. I hope it works because I need more than one bottle on a ride.

Glad to see you have a 50+ jersey coming. I was going to ask where the pics of the 50+ jersey riders were!
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Old 06-22-08, 06:59 AM   #24
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Wow, thanks for the great pictures. Sorry to hear about your Garmin. I have admired your bike since you first posted pictures of it. I'll bet it rides like a dream with that frame and the longer chain stays. What size tires do you have on it? Also, what is your gearing?
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Old 06-22-08, 08:09 AM   #25
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Thanks, all, for your comments.

I just wanted to add that this is *my* personal best ride for now - but there are certainly lots of other personal bests out there more impressive than mine (e.g., double centuries, first ride after surgery, first ride around the block for someone who hasn't been on a bike in 20 years). The encouragement / examples set by members of this forum have been an important part of my motivation to cycle myself back into shape over the past 18 months.

One more thing....several folks have mentioned they would like to visit Mt. St. Helens. I realized that in looking at my photos it would be possible for a suspicious person to think I might have "pumped up" the majesty of the mountain through clever use of zoom, Photoshop, etc. I thought I would add the photo below just to give you perspective on what a spectacular view one gets from the Johnston visitor's center near the top. You get out of your car (or out of your RV...), walk 50 yards, and this is what you see.

(No, I don't mean that another pic of me is spectacular...just wanted to point out that when you get to the top, it's a great view. No binoculars needed!).



I just noticed the woman behind me in this photo in the track suit...I wonder if she ran to the top?

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