Annual Ride Around Mt Rainier in One Day -RAMROD - in jeopardy

As summer draws near in Western Washington, visiting Mt. Rainier is at the top of many people and outdoor enthusiasts’ lists.

But this year, a 40-year-old tradition, RAMROD, or Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day, could be in jeopardy.

The issue stems from a permitting controversy between park leadership and the organizers of RAMROD, the Redmond Cycling Club.

“We received word that our permit to return had been denied,” Joe Matthews, the president of the Redmond Cycling Club, said.

“We were shocked, it was a blindside for us,” he said.

This year should be the 40th year of the race.

John Dixon started it all back in 1984. It was the first ever organized ride inside a national park.

“This is world class scenery, this is a world-class experience, and you don’t want to take that away from people,” Dixon said.

Mount Rainier’s leadership said they didn’t deny the permit.

They cited safety and traffic congestion concerns because the race is typically held the last Thursday in July.

They sent KIRO 7 a statement that said in part:

“Having 800 cyclists and additional volunteers on the historic road within the most heavily travelled corridor at the height of the park’s visitor season would increase congestion, generating additional safety and resource protection concerns, and impact the experience of the public at large.”

They want the race to remain on the route used the past two years that goes through Skate Creek.

“So, whenever we’ve had to do the Skate Creek option it’s because of road closures or road building and now that’s behind us,” Dixons said.

The traditional route organizers are pushing for uses the Nisqually and Stevens Canyon entrances.

“This year would be the first time that we would have to go around the park while the interior roads were accessible and that creates a safety issue for us,” Matthews said.

“We had many people write to us and tell us you know we can’t wait to go back into the park because going outside of it, isn’t RAMROD,” Matthews added.

Other options that are being considered are moving the race to September, outside of peak season.

Dixon also is suggesting the park hold a no vehicle day - similar to what Olympic National Park does for Ride the Hurricane.

“He has the power to close the road to vehicular traffic on July 25th and just allow bicyclists that day, just a thought,” Dixon said.

Matthews said he hopes they’ll be able to find a solution and make a decision by the end of this month.

“Mt. Rainier is a national park but it’s Washington’s National Park and I think the communities and organizations have embraced the park for so many decades,” Matthews said.

“I think it’s so important that they’re treated as first class citizens and not second-class citizens,” he said.

Matthews and Dixon said they’ve also been working with Representative Kim Schrier’s office to find a solution.