A $25 bargain bike becomes one man's ticket to the STP finish line and so much more
Ron and his wife celebrate after the Kitsap Color Classic
Twenty-five dollars. That’s how much it cost for Ron Ohnhaus to fall in love with cycling. It was at a church rummage sale about 10 years ago that he found the rusty $25 bargain, a bike that had been donated by multiple-time Seattle to Portland (STP) rider John Sargent.
Ron’s motivation for the purchase was simple: to ride along with his wife as she trained for a mini triathlon. And while his initial attempts left him winded and tired, Ron found himself getting stronger with each training ride that his wife planned. Before long, they were cycling all over the hilly terrain, and his endurance began to build even more.
It wasn’t too long before some of the neighborhood kids started to take notice of Ron’s bicycling adventures and wanted to tag along. With their parents’ permission, the kids started joining Ron and his wife on training rides, sometimes going more than 40 miles.
Ron would occasionally throw out the idea of riding the STP with some of the kids. And then one year, the idea stuck. In 2017, a 15-year-old neighbor named Logan called Ron to say he wanted to ride the STP. “I thought—and hoped—it might be too late to register,” joked Ron. But he followed up, and much to his initial concern, registration was indeed still open. Ron signed them up and the two began their training, culminating with a successful finish in Portland. But the experience was more than just a physical challenge. For Ron, it shed a whole new light on bicycling. “Well we both finished that year, and I fell in love with the excitement and camaraderie of the Cascade rides,” said Ron.
Inspired to ride the STP again in 2018, Ron this time brought along his wife and five friends, one with whom he shared biking memories dating all the way back to second grade. In a full circle moment, Ron was also joined by his friend John, the same person who donated the $25 bike that Ron purchased to start this journey. With temperatures topping 103 degrees, the 2018 STP marked quite the memorable experience. It served up a monumental moment, too, for Ron’s wife, who captured her first century ride.
As if the 200+mile ride in July wasn’t enough for Ron, he followed up with the High Pass Challenge (HPC) in August. Known for its challenging but beautiful terrain through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mount St. Helens National Monument, the 104-mile HPC is the only Cascade ride in which riders are timed to the finish. Ron said he tackled HPC with “MUCH trepidation,” but also had the guidance of his 74-year-old mentor, a 14-year HPC veteran. Ron made it to the top and was awarded a well-earned finisher medal.
But Ron still wasn’t done. In September he and his wife finished out the season with the Kitsap Color Classic. And while the 2018 event season was ending, Ron’s excitement for the next one was just gearing up. So far in 2019 he has already ridden the Tunnel Ride and Chilly Hilly, and he’s committed his support to the Major Taylor Project by signing up for the Ride for Major Taylor later this month. He also has plans to travel to Colorado to ride with a friend there.
While Ron has already had a busy spring riding season, 2019 holds so much more for him and his family. Ron and his wife will be joined by their son to ride this year’s STP, a family adventure that he’s really looking forward to. And right in line with the rest of his ambitions, Ron has already set a goal for 2020: to finish the STP in one day alongside his riding buddy from Colorado.
Ron’s love of bicycling has proven a wonderful way to connect with friends and family; but it has also dramatically impacted his health in a positive way. “All this fun activity has helped me lose over 30 pounds and gain lean muscle,” he explained. “At age 67, my doctor just told me I'm in excellent health and I feel as good as I can ever remember.”
We’re looking forward to seeing Ron and his family cross the finish line at the STP this July. And we’re pretty sure we’ll see him at even more rides later this year and for a long time to come.
Registration for most of Cascade's 2019 riding events, including the Kaiser Permanente STP presented by Alaska Airlines, is now open.