I’ve been going through some photos that I never got around to posting and with the 2018 Un-Meeting coming up in a couple months I thought I’d share my experience with last years. Here are some photos and some excerpts.
I had taken a few days off before and after the Un-Meeting so I could make a short tour out of it. I had originally planned on doing the Volcano High Pass Challenge in one day, but I had all my gear and was passing through Packwood a little earlier than expected so I climbed the first big climb on Friday and camped at the top.
Saturday morning I packed up and slowly started pushing forward along the posted route. I was watching the time and after I passed Babyshoe Pass and the road turned back into pavement, I looked behind me and saw a few riders approaching. They were surprised to see me there, but seemed happy enough to have me join them.
They were going a decent pace so I kicked it into gear and stuck with them. After Trout Lake (and an amazing huckleberry shake!) we pushed on. The last leg only had a bit more climbing then it was downhill into Carson. I had to push it a bit since I had the extra weight from my camping gear on my bike. The gravel roads had some washboard sections, but we were all on high volume tires and it didn’t slow us down too much. We made good time and rolled into Carson with a lot of time to spare so we stopped and ate some ice cream while chatting.
After we had more people show up we went to the RV park where we had some group spots reserved. Much to our surprise the RV park was having a potluck with live music! This was perfect for a group of hungry cyclists. More people had shown up both by car and bike and the campsite filled up with tents. We heard there was a fire that had started in Oregon and wondered how that would affect things.
We woke up to ash on all of our stuff and smoke billowing in the distance. The fire was growing and the wind was blowing in our direction. We decided to do a route that was a little out of the direct line of smoke. This was a mostly paved route up to Calamity Pass.
Part way up the hill there was a gravel road that split off from the main road. A group of us decided to explore. Looking back, it was a great decision. The road was a gravel (from smooth to chunky; my 42mm tires were just enough for some sections). After a decent amount of climbing we made it to the top. The gravel road actually connected back to the road we were originally planning to ride on. This is where things got extra fun. We decided to take the paved road back down.
This was a fast flowy descent. Very little braking was needed at corners because they weren’t too sharp. We would take turns in the lead… I would tuck and cruise by everyone and take a section at top speed. It is amazing how much faster an aero tuck is! It was a great time to practice descending form and technique. It was long enough that I would start to tire holding that position so I would drop back and let another take the lead. This is when all of us were glad to have ultra grippy fat road tires. Everyone was smiling and enjoying every moment. It was a little sad when we reached the bottom…
This was when everyone had to head back home.
People were saying their goodbyes and leaving at their leisure. A few groups formed that were heading to Portland and I joined one. It wasn’t as straightforward as hoped with the Eagle Creek fire underway, but we made it to Portland safely despite some detours and very bad air quality.
We then parted ways (each having their own schedule). I would then ride back to Seattle, but trying to escape the smoke I went to the coast first. That began my first over 24hr ride that I’ll have to write about another time.