Short Description: 
by Brian Hammer

On a 55-degree Chamber of Commerce type of morning, the Tour de Lavender departed from the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Sequim WA shortly before 8 am. The 67-mile route explored the coastal plain of Sequim but for one brief excursion to the northern foothills of Olympic National Park. Lavender Farms, wooded neighborhoods, seaside coves, and bays are all given equal opportunity to entice the participants. Sag stops came every fifteen or so miles. Offerings were basic cycling fare. Banana, watermelon, Gatorade, water, and various forms of cycling “pocket food." Quantities seemed to be minimal. Though to be fair, I was never on the receiving end of “sorry, just ran out." Overall (and for no apparent reason that I could determine) the ride seemed to be very lightly attended. Entry fee for the Tour de Lavender was $45. Elevation gain for the metric century was 2150 ft. Net proceeds benefited local non-profits (Olympic Discovery Trail and the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association). Throughout the event, riders as well as staff were communicative at all the correct times and supportive of one another during this prelude to the next day’s spin up Hurricane Ridge.

In stark contrast to Saturday’s weather, we awake Sunday morning to sullen skies for the day's "Ride the Hurricane" event. We roll out from Peninsula College parking lot at 8 am, traversing the ONP foothills for about ¼ mile to the west. All too quickly, the road turns to the south and immediately tilts up. I locate my 34/27 combo and but for a few short segments, this was to become “home” for the balance of the 18-mile ascent. Simultaneous with having found “home," a determined and steady rain lashed the riders. Labored conversations ensue with riders passing as well as those being passed. Kit configurations vary wildly. From bare arms and legs to rain booties, full leggings and “proper” rain capes…., it was all on display. Elevation (as my heart rate) steadily increases. Miles slowly tick off. 15…, 12..., 8…, 3. A couple of sag stops now in the rears, I hear critter activity (note to self, remember this on the way down) just inside tree line at various points as we slog upwards. Within 2 miles of the summit I hear drum beats higher up just shy of the saddle that leads directly to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Indeed my ears were not playing tricks. Two musicians working a set of Congas and equally large bass drum were pounding out a satisfactory rhythm that led us to the top. Finally inside, an opportunity to pull layers and wring out a quart or two of water. No views of the surrounding ridge lines as the summit was encased in the day’s storm. 

Clothing layers back on, it was time to head down. Three or four turns into the descent the shivering begins. Knees get clamped to the top tube, hands on the hoods, elbows are softened to quiet the bike. Five miles further into the descent I pull off to a rest stop with an awaiting ambulance and paramedics. Inside, the paramedics ask me to unzip my vest. Failing miserably I am stripped down to riding shorts and incased in a space/wool blanket combo. Body temp somewhat improves over the course of 40 minutes with the aid of a few energy bars and the delightfully warm blanket(s). Base, middle, and outer layers reapplied, I step outside and resume the descent. Knees, hands, and elbows assume their positions till the uncontrollable shaking returns. Be it impaired judgment or sense of survival, I change tactics. Hands get moved to the drops, 50/11 combo selected, I start free pedaling to generate meager amounts of body heat while negotiating the rivulets and chicanes of Hurricane Ridge Road. A sense of relief ensues as we reach the right hand turn that leads us to the foothill traverse, the Peninsula College parking lot, and a long hug from my Linda.

Ride the Hurricane round trip mileage from Peninsula College is 36 miles. 40 miles if one elects to start at waters edge in Port Angeles proper. Entrance fee is $40. The elevation gain is 5300 ft. The route from the entrance station to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is closed to vehicle traffic in both directions from 7 am to 12 noon.