Always full of good ideas, riding buddy Peter McKay decided that a 200km permanent would be just the way to celebrate the fourth of July. We decided on a new one - Black Diamond to Sunrise. Mark Roehrig had established Randonneurs USA Permanent #243 this past spring, but the road to Sunrise had not opened until mid-June, so ours would be the first ride of the permanent.
The Sunrise lodge and visitor center perches at 6400 feet on the side of Mount Rainier. The road to Sunrise may be the highest paved road in Washington state. Black Diamond is at about 600 feet (and you go downhill to the Green River right after the start), so there's a very good climb built into the route.
Peter advertised our plans on the SIR mailing list. In keeping with the holiday spirit, we picked 7:30 as our leisurely start time. Five other riders met Peter and me at the start in Black Diamond on Wednesday morning. Peter Beeson joined us fresh from his RAAM-qualifying 17-day ride across the US with PAC Tour's Elite Transcontinental Tour. Geoff Swarts had also completed a transcontinental ride earlier this spring. Bob Brudvik, Rick Blacker, and new randonneur Tim Hennings filled out the group.
After playing with my new iPhone (source of this picture of Peter M. and Bob), we headed off to Cumberland via the Green River gorge. Chatting away, we blithely missed the turn at the bottom of the hill and found ourselves back up on SR-169 not far from our start point. We considered ignoring the mistake and chalking up a no-credit ride to Sunrise, but Tim mentioned that this permanent was part of his R-12 award quest, so we headed back down the hill to go up the correct direction.
The day could hardly have been more spectacular. Great company and great scenery. As usual, I brought the rear up the climb, but most of the guys were waiting at Sunrise Point. Peter Beeson lied nicely and said they had only been there for a few minutes. A bystander took our picture with Rainier in the background and we headed the rest of the way up to the lodge. On a permanent with friends, we tossed all our well-practiced brevet time management skills out the window and had a nice lunch (including ice cream at the top). Geoff and Tim realized that our casual pace was likely to interfere with planned evening activities, so they hustled down the mountain ahead. The rest of us high-tailed it down the hill after lunch. We spent nearly 7 hours reaching the top and just over 4 hours to have lunch and come back down.
It was a beautiful day! And we were on our bikes.