Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2011 Seattle to Portland (STP) Ride Report

In keeping with tradition below is my ride report for the 2011 version of the Seattle to Portland bike ride. This year I made the 204 mile journey in one day again but I rode it with some friends which was a great experience. This post is broken into short bullet points to aid those of us who have short attention spans.

July 9th 2011

  • Woke up at 2:15am
  • Wondered what the heck I was doing up this early
  • Put on all my cycling battle gear
  • Gave my pedals one last clean out with wd40 then lubed them up really good in hopes that they wouldn’t creek for 200 miles – didn’t work
  • Rode half a mile down the road to blockbuster where I would be picked up at 2:55am
  • Stood around in the parking lot next to my bike putting on sunscreen while the street sweeper guy stared at me. Hmmm….. 3am, standing in the dark putting on sunscreen standing next to a bike. Why was he staring at me?
  • Ride showed up and loaded up my bike. Street sweeper still staring at us
  • Finished applying sunscreen, ate a pre-ride PB&J, and took some precautionary vitamin I while we drove to Husky Stadium
  • Stood around in the parking lot nervously stretching while waiting for Mark and Brad to show up
  • Brad and Mark show up a couple of minutes later and we are ready to roll.
  • Since we go to the same church we decided to have a prayer before we took off. (Couldn’t hurt – Could help) Looking at each other we were all wearing our helmets but decided since they had holes in them we didn’t need to remove them.
  • Looked for lightning bolts after finishing prayer but none struck.
  • Took our first pedal strokes at 4am - ahhh
  • Almost took a wrong turn half a mile down the road but someone yelled out to us in the dark correcting our route. Thanks who ever you are.
  • Rode along Lake Washington and watched the sun come up. Could tell it was going to be a great day.
  • Once on the sun came up we established some groundrules for our paceline (5 minute pulls and try to keep it around 18 mph - That one didn’t last for long but it was a nice thought)
  • Pacelined until the first rest stop in Kent at REI headquarters
  • Just like last year the REI rest stop was stacked with tons of food, toilets, and pumping loud music but this year there was a disco Elvis there to greet you as you arrived. Nothing gets me more pumped to ride 200 miles than a disco Elvis with sideburns. Thank you, thank you very much.
  • While I was at the rest stop I posted to my facebook where we were and how things were going. My post was sent to Jenny’s phone and woke her up. Oops, sorry about that. She was in a hotel room in Chehalis getting ready to finish up the STP with some of her friends.
  • Regrouped into a paceline and rode to Puyallup feeling really good. Ray hit a pothole so big and it bounced his water bottle right out of its cage. We all went back to get it then talked to someone who just broke his collar bone hitting the same pothole. Not a good way to end your STP
  • Started climbing the Puyallup hill and spotted someone on a time trial bike equipped with a rear disc wheel and sporting a aero helmet riding along too. Brad slowed down to take a picture of him. 200 miles on a time trial bike? Ouch.
  • At the top of the hill I threw my STP Tyvek jacket in the garbage because it had done its job and I didn’t want to carry it for another 150 miles. (Don’t worry I chose the ugliest one I own. Orange, yellow and brown from 2009 but reminded me of the 70s a lot. In fact, I should have just given it to Elvis 20 miles back. He probably would have liked it.
  • Started following Brad in the paceline and notice that his back wheel was not straight. After a couple of minutes his back wheel started to click. He pulled over noticed that he had broken a spoke. To go with this he also broke a cleat about 2 miles earlier. Now that’s some bad luck. Arrg.
  • Got to the next rest stop and Brad asked to borrow a spoke wrench and bought a new cleat at the aid station. After 5 minutes he had attached his new cleat and trued up his wheel minus one spoke. I decided that Brad wasn’t just another cyclist but a super hero at that point.
  • Everyone put their heads down and pacelined it for the next 40 miles until we got to Centralia (Mile 100). The 18mph ground rule had been thrown out the window long ago and we were steadily averaging 20.
  • Got to the halfway point rest stop and was greeted with a congratulatory Creamcycle ice cream bar. That was like heaven on a stick after drinking luke warm Gatorade all morning.
  • Everyone didn’t make just one trip to the bathroom while at this rest stop but two. Very productive.
  • On the way out of town we stopped for a light next to an overly lifted 4X4 truck equipped with a BBQ in the back. The driver started “asking” us at the top of his lungs if we thought we didn’t have to stop for red lights and if we thought it was OK to run stop signs. I was the only one in the group who made eye contact because I was staring at him wondering if he really wanted an answer from us or if he was just venting because he was in a hurry to get home to watch NASCAR and we were slowing him down. I pointed at the red light that we were ALL stopped at and told him that he was preaching to the choir and it was all of the other cyclist he should be mad at. While I was saying this I was also simultaneously counting in my head how many stop signs that I had already run that morning. It must have been at least 40 but hey I yelled “clear” while I ran each of those stop signs so all 10,000 of my STP buddies could also run the same stop sign safely too. My preaching to the choir comment obviously ticked Mr 4 X 4 off because hit the gas and sped off leaving a huge cloud of fumes behind.
  • Started into the 40 mile rolling hill section and quickly realized that I was riding with a group of mountain goats. Ouch. 20+ mph uphill in a paceline? Ouch. Not being much of a climber I knew I was in trouble. I did hang on but my pulls were very anemic. Sorry guys.
  • Pulled into the next rest stop with two high school age kids playing some CCR on a guitar and drums. As we walked out of the bathroom and made our way to our bikes saw a guy sprinting for the bathrooms with fear in his eyes. Little did he realize that there were at least 10 people in front of him trying to get into the same bathroom. I really hoped the people in line had some mercy and let him go to the front.
  • Headed up and over the Longview bridge in a huge line of cyclist with logging trucks passing close by us. With no way to pass it was kind of nice to climb without hammering it up the hill. Screamed down the other side of the bridge and flew past the Welcome to Oregon sign. That felt good.
  • Started thinking about the ice cold Coke I was going to drink when I got to the last rest stop. It’s amazing how a coke can motivate you for miles of riding
  • Finally pulled into the last official rest stop and bought my celebratory Coke. It was awesome. Sat on the lawn for a bit resting and enjoying my coke. Talked to Jenny on the phone and it sounded like they were going to beat us to the finish line. Way to go.
  • With about 15 miles to go I was cooked. The last couple of hills that we encountered I just couldn’t keep up with my mountain goat friends so I let them go. I now know what if feels like to get dropped on the alpe d'huez with nothing left in the tank. It’s both humiliating and a huge relief at the same time. I was kind of hoping that I could just soft pedal it into Portland enjoying the sights but alas my buddies sat up and waited for me.
  • I put my head down once again and told my legs to shut up and caught back up to my riding buddies.
  • As we crossed a bridge into Portland I could see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood all at the same time. It was quite a sight.
  • The next 6 miles or so were a parade through downtown Portland. It really is amazing how many miles of bike lanes there are in Portland. They rock.
  • As we pulled into the finish line I was greeted by Jenny who had finished 30 minutes ahead of me and the kids. They presented me with a Lion again but this time is was even bigger.
  • Got a huge hug from Jenny but when I tried to give the kids a big sweaty hug they declined for some reason.

Final thoughts:

It was awesome to ride with 4 other guys

I made some really good fiends during the ride (thanks Dan, Mark, Brad, and Ray)

I’m still really ticked at myself for letting up with 15 miles to go. I know I could have ridden harder but my mind got the best of me. Arg… that makes me mad.

I think I’m finished with double centuries. They are lot of fun but the time commitment for training it out of control. I’m sticking with centuries from now on.

The STP still continues to be the best organized ride I’ve been on. It’s a ton of fun and amazing how they can get 10,000 people on bikes safely to Portland.