Friday, October 10, 2008

STP Day 1

My STP experience started at 5 AM in front of the University of Washington football stadium. That is the official starting point. Jenny dropped me off just as it was getting light and off I rode. Within the first couple of miles I missed a Dan Henry and rode off the course. Lucky for me I noticed that I had missed the turn and quickly got back on track. Trying to follow Dan Henry’s in the dark was next to impossible but it quickly got light so I was able to find my way a lot easier.

I quickly got into the groove of riding and the miles started to fly by. As I rode next to Lake Washington I watched rowing teams carrying their boats out to the water for some training. I wanted to stop for a photo opportunity but I knew I needed to press on.

After riding for a couple of hours both of my water bottles were empty and I was ready for a quick break so I stopped at a nearby 7-11. One of the employees was outside emptying the garbage so I asked her if I could fill up my water bottles inside. She didn’t have a problem with that but then she took a look at me and said “where did you come from and where are you riding to?” When I told her I came from Seattle and I was riding to Portland her eyes got huge then she stepped back and took a look at me. She said “boy, look at those skinny legs on you, you’re never going to make it”. All I could do was laugh and thank her for the water.

I rode for a couple more hours and then I met Jenny at a Safeway for lunch. It was really nice to take a break even if it was sitting on the back bumper of the car eating a sandwich. While we were in the Safeway parking lot we actually saw 3 other people that were riding the STP a day early like I was. I talked to them for a couple of minutes but they didn’t seem interested in riding together. This was kind of a bummer because it was getting hard to ride alone.

After lunch, the course took me on a fairly busy 2 lane highway. The traffic didn’t bother me but there was a terrible headwind that I had to ride into. This headwind would last for the next 40 miles. As I got to mile 70 I realized that I had just passed the farthest that I had ever ridden. It felt like quite an accomplishment but at the same time I realized that I had at least a couple more hours to ride and I was pretty spent from riding into the heavy headwind. I really had no other choice but to keep riding and stick it out for the following reasons:

I was stranded all alone on my bike in the middle of nowhere

I had already bought an STP t-shirt and I would feel like a total dork wearing it if I didn’t finish the ride.

I ended up riding the last 30 miles telling me myself over and over again. Do it for the shirt, do it for the shirt, do it for the shirt. I know it was dumb but it kept me going. As I pulled into Centralia I was relieved to have ridden my first century. I was also really happy to get off of my bike for the day. It was a very lonely but satisfying day. The only other cyclist I rode with during the day was a lady on a trail in Tenino that I passed. The entire conversation consisted of Hi, how’s it going? It was nice though.

Day 2: The Ride into Portland tomorrow…….

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