Sunday, July 12, 2009

STP Baby!


Update: Video Here:

It’s been quite a while since I’ve put my bike suitcase to use and I’ve never done a double century before. Wanted to do something really epic and this ride was everything I expected.

Hmmm, this is going to call for some creative packing.

Bubble wrap to protect that legendary Klein paint job.

One thing new – I finally saw a chiropracter about my stiff neck and he thinks he can really help me. On Thursday morning he did his first adjustment and it really seemed to help with my motion and pain. I’ve never needed a chiropracter before but I was cautiously optimistic about the results.

Obligatory photo of THE MOUNTAIN from seat 18F

Rick – my regular century buddy – has done many STPs and one 1-day.
Ann – long time friend of Rick’s that now lives in Seattle near the start line. Picked us up at the airport, put us up overnight. Has done all of Rick’s STPs and then some plus RAMROD.

Rob - Phil's BIL. Experienced rider but no STPS.
Phil - Friend of Scott M's. Newer rider, completed one century prior to STP.
Scott M – friend of Ann’s from work. Serious hammerhead and mileage junkie. Done multiple STPs, and Climb to Kaiser twice.

Ann and Scott M drove us all to REI where they picked up their packets and we bought a few supplies. Then we had lunch and went to Ann’s house to reassemble the bikes and do a little test riding. We decided to meet at 4:15 in the morning; the plan was for Ann to drive our suitcases to the start and meet us there.

This shot was staged, nothing wrong with Ann's bike.

Ann made a great spaghetti dinner for us. When she went to put her car in the garage it wouldn’t start and we started to panic. I pretended to jiggle some stuff and Rick inspected some fuses and then we tried a different key and it started right up but we were a little spooked about what we’d do if we couldn’t get it going again- turned out fine though, we got lucky. We watched a little Tour de France and then went to sleep about 9.

Sunscreen at 3:30 AM? This is madness!

Helmet check.

Trip Distance = 0

Blah blah hydrate... blah blah stay to the right... blah blah be safe... GO!

Only 199 miles to go.
Everything went fine at the start line but we just missed the first start wave and got going at 5:00. That was fine with me because it was just light enough for me to wear my prescription sunglasses so I could see. I’d read a lot about how the first few miles are treacherous because of bad riders and people in too much of a hurry so we took it pretty safe until the pack spread out a bit.

The riding next to Lake Washington was beautiful with the sun coming up over the other side. Embarassing to stop at the rest stop at Mile-10 but somebody needed to use the outhouse. I remembered that I forgot to take an Advil so I didn’t mind waiting a few minutes. Then it was smooth riding until Spanaway HS at Mile-53 and 8:40 am. That was the biggest rest stop I’d ever seen. All of us were staying together and still feeling fine – pretty surprising considering most of us hadn’t even met until the night before. My nutrition plan was to not eat any of the rest stop food for the first 100 miles and stick to Perpetuem, Cytomax, Hammergel, and Clif Bars.

The next section was largely on a separated bike trail and it was really nice to get away from the traffic for a while. Almost all the intersections had volunteers to wave us through safely also. By 11:45 we were in Centralia, Mile-99. This little town closed off the streets and had dozens of booths and activities but it was all for the two-day riders because we just had time to eat a little lunch and get going again. I had a banana and my last Clif Bar and still felt pretty good. Again it was nice to see that we were all riding together well despite some differences in endurance and skill that were starting to show up. But then Rob announced that he and Phil were going to drop back and not ride with us any more because they needed to slow things down a little. We convinced them to stay with us and that we’d reduce our speed so they could keep up and that they should concentrate on conserving their energy.

So after Centralia we had a system of watching the lead rider and giving them a bell ring when it was time to pull off. Scott M was pretty much the coach of this operation and no one argued when they got the bell. I took my share at the front but he figured out a way to always put me there in the easier sections of road.

There were quite a lot fewer riders now on the road and almost all the one-day riders would be stopping before here. Back on the road I was following some goon who pulled in front of me and we both hit the same pothole – I didn’t flat but my handlebars rotated down so I had to stop and fix them. Then I stopped again but I couldn’t get it quite right. We stopped at another rest stop in Napavine, Mile-113 and they had a mechanic who fixed me up perfectly. Bought a bottle of water from the local glee club or something and it was cold! Way better than the hose water at the other stops. We didn’t stay long and it was 1:30 now.

The Cheerleader Car Wash: "Big G Little O, Go, Go!"
Mile-137 was the Castle Rock rest stop we reached at 3:25pm. It was a high school and they had some kind of fund raising group selling the food and drinks. About half the rest stops along the way were free and the others were more like concession stands in parking lots. There were a lot of people here lying under shade trees and starting to get grumpy. Anyway Phil had been having trouble with his shifting and took his bike to the mechanic there but the guy couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Apparently Phil had a couple cogs that the chain just would set in so he just couldn’t use those gears. We were there for a LONG time though before we got going again. My high school buddy Cloy from Iowa who now lives in Portland called me here and said he’d like to meet us at the finish when we got there so that was going to be fun.

OK, back on the road again and now things were starting to get interesting. The hills got a little longer, but never very steep. The wind was getting stronger and never going the right direction. My legs at one point got kind of rubbery even though I’d been doing my E-Caps electrolytes but eventually the feeling came back. My neck was moderately painful; not as bad as most of the centuries I’ve done though so relatively speaking I was in fine shape but we were definitely slowing down.

Hammergel Tally = 8.
The Longview Bridge into Oregon at Mile-151 was really a milestone. For the two-day riders they block the traffic and escort waves of riders over, but for us we had to stay on the shoulder and couldn’t pass so it was a little slow and that allowed for a little looking around. I allowed myself to think about finishing.

At 5:45 we reached Mile-161 rest stop; a convenience store in Goble. Bought another banana here and some peanuts and wow that’s a good combo. Also a really cold bottle of Gatorade mostly for something of a different flavor than my Perpetuem and Cytomax. Here though, Rob declared that he and Phil were through; they had already called a friend in Portland to pick them up and there was no changing their minds. We shook hands and parted ways, now we were four.

Rick kept saying that once we reached St. Helens we’d be able to see Portland in the distance and it would be like a magnet and we could just put’er on automatic pilot. Rick’s a liar. St. Helens High came at Mile-174, 7pm, and we saw nothing but trees. There was no magnet, the sun was no longer high in the sky, and we still had almost 30 miles to go.

7:30, Mile-186, quickie stop to call Cloy again and tell him it’d be another hour or so. All of our rest stops should have been this quick. From here on, Rick and Scott M pulled side by side while Ann and I sat behind them… this was a very effective and welcome strategy.

The Welcome to Portland sign appeared with still 10 miles to go. We joked about a city limit sign sprint but nobody did anything about it. Coming in to town the cars now had their lights on and we had to go across the Broadway Bridge with a pedestrian path on the side. Then around a few blocks in town and there were still plenty of us riders out there so no one was getting lost. Suddenly there was the park and a guy with a microphone yelling out congratulations and a whole bunch of happy people; one of them gave me my 1-Day Finisher patch.

Almost 9 o’clock now and I met up with Cloy and there was lots of hugging but then we had to go get our stuff out of the storage area before they closed. So then we all got checked in to the hotel and went out for a great Mexican dinner. Burritos and beer taste REALLY good after 200 miles.

Trip distance = 204.5 (includes riding from the park to the hotel, my settings agreed pretty closely with the route map).


Pommi said...


Hammerhead Scott said...

It was great riding with you! I think Ann and I will have to come down to the bay area and do a ride near you!

Pumpkincycle said...

Good job Scott, and your usual nice writeup. Are you ready to do another double or are you like me when, after finishing Davis I loudly proclaimed "I'LL NEVER DO ANOTHER ONE" (I lied)

Best--Jay (Pumpkincycle)

Curtis Corlew said...

Congrats. I'd have loved to ride with you. I've STPd twice, but as a two day.
We just finished 500 miles in WA. Saw a few STPers as we drove to our start. Wonder if one was you!

kid kulaki! said...

Congrats! nice report, it makes me think to do it next year...

KPH said...

Hey - just read this a few months on - congrats. I might be moving to the left coast later in the year and I'd definitely like to try this next year.

Fun blog, btw - I'm looking forward to riding Diablo.