Captain’s Log, Saturday July 13
3:46 a.m. (a.k.a. “dark-thirty”) Alarm goes off. Still dark outside, and when it’s still dark in the summer, I want to be asleep. With that silent early-morning grumpiness, Corinne, Jason & I pull on our cycling kits, schlep our stuff out of the hotel room, and head for the University of Washington (STP start line).
4:35 a.m. After a following a seemingly-endless line of cars, we find a parking spot in the shadow of Husky Stadium. If there was a shadow, that is, as it’s still dark. Do all the last-minute stuff like drop our bags in the Portland truck (there’s no backing out now!), inflate tires, etc., and then join the masses at the start line.
4:50 a.m. We’re off! We wanted to start before 5 (STP is a rolling start from 4:45-7:30, pretty much the only way to get 10,000 riders across the line), so we’re right on schedule. Corinne and I figure we’ve got 14 hours of riding ahead of us, plus break times, for the 325 km (202 miles), so we didn’t want to start too late.
4:55 a.m. Jason rides away.
5:05 a.m. I realize I forgot to turn hit start on my Garmin, so do that now. It stops beeping at me. We wind our way along the shore of Lake Washington as the sun rises around us.
6:30 a.m. With the sounds of Guns N’ Roses blaring from speakers, we pull into the food stop at the REI headquarters in Kent. Drop our bikes and do the important things like stand in a porta-potty line (there weren’t that many people there yet, so we were lucky) and grab a bunch of food – things we will be repeating many times during the day. Somehow I wind up with peanut butter all over my gloves, bars, and bottles. Snack for later, I guess!
7:00 a.m. We’re treated to a magical view of Mt. Rainier as we wind our way south of Seattle. Cool air temperature and light winds complete the magical morning. We keep turning the pedals. We pass five guys on beach cruisers, with 12-packs of beer in their baskets. How early did they start?
7:05 a.m. I’m treated to the first of MANY “yeah, kick butt!” shouts as we pass people or get passed. I should have been handing out Betty Designs business cards for all the attention my kit got today.
7:45 a.m. Tackle the first big climb of today – but in reality it’s not that big. Sit and spin… and meet up with Corinne waiting at the top.
8:15 a.m. We pull into the second food stop in Spanaway. I check my messages and see a text from Jason, who is now half an hour ahead of us. We repeat our earlier routine of porta-potty and food, and add sunscreen as the armwarmers are off and it’s warming up. This time it’s Corinne who ends up with peanut butter everywhere – things like that highlight why we’re such a great team!
9:00 a.m. I wonder if Corinne is tired of me drafting her yet. Still a long way to go!
9:05 a.m. We get in with a good pack, chat and laugh with the group. Corinne is right on the wheel of the “man in black” as we named him for the day. She keeps giving me the OK hand signal behind her back as she kept a close eye on his butt, calves, and broad shoulders.
9:30 a.m. We lose the “man in black”. Or, he loses us actually.
10:00 a.m. We start fantasizing about cokes at the halfway point. We already have five hours of riding done!
11:00 a.m. We arrive in Centralia, the halfway point. Volunteers hand us creamsicles, which we inhale. We drop our bikes and get in the food line up, and I check my messages. Jason is an hour ahead, and reports that he went down when two riders on tri bikes crashed in front of him. He says he made it to Centralia but doesn’t say if he’s carrying on, so I spend some time looking around for him and trying to get a hold of him on the phone.
11:30 a.m. We decide to carry on, and text Jason to report in with more details.
11:35 a.m. We remember that we wanted cokes, so stop at a gas station and inhale a can each.
12:00 a.m. Riding through Chehalis, I see my dear friend Betsy standing on the side of the road, cheering. We shout each other’s names, and I can feel her send me good vibes for the rest of the day.
12:10 a.m. The sugar from our cokes has kicked in, and we start to get goofy - singing and laughing. Crowds have thinned out with the 2-day riders stopping at the halfway point. We keep turning the pedals.
12:15 a.m. We’re treated to an incredible view of Mt. St. Helens, and I regale Corinne with facts about volcanoes. I also think of my friend Catherine, who loves it when I talk about Mt. St. Helens (I have a thing for volcanoes). Ha ha – she doesn’t love it… The pavement is glassy smooth, which I know Catherine actually would love.
|Rare moment of Coco drafting me,|
so I had to include it.
1:00 p.m. We are enjoying a sweet tailwind and just keep heading south. Spirits high. Finally get a message from Jason saying he’s carried on, not too hurt but bike may be damaged. Despite all that, he’s over two hours ahead of us. We see the “man in black” again so hurry to catch his wheel. Scare him off with our junior-high style banter, and he rides away.
1:30 p.m. Arrive in Vader. Stop for a quick snack. It gets real now, as this is where the relentless rolling hills start, and don’t stop for about about 55km. Road kicks up right out of Vader. I see a sign for “Annonen Rd” and first thought it said “Annikin Rd” and was pretty excited. I am such a geek. It takes the sting out of the climb out of town.
2:00 p.m. Corinne and I are pretty quiet. Spirits are low. The tailwind is making the rollers a little less painful, but we are definitely feeling the fact that we started 9 hours earlier. Butts are sore. We’re both in uncharted territory in terms of the distance.
2:43 p.m. The mile 145 food stop couldn’t come at a better time. We load up on fruit and sandwiches, and then look for the porta-potties. They are way on the other side of a field, so we trudge over there, all the while wondering why they put them so far away. We ask for more sunscreen, but are told by the volunteers that it would be against State law to give any out. Huh? Another rider said that’s code for they forgot to bring any. We laugh and carry on.
2:50 p.m. We need another coke, so pull into a gas station and each down a can of coke, and split a Snickers. Spirits high again, and the laughing and signing are back on.
3:30 p.m. We make the climb over the Lewis & Clark bridge over the Columbia River – welcome to Oregon! It’s starting to feel like we’re going to make it to Portland ahead of schedule. We feel a bit like we’re in our own world – either not quite fast to join a group, or too fast and keep passing. We can’t find anyone to ride with.
3:48 p.m. Get a message from Jason – he made it to the finish line!
4:30 p.m. Finally hook up with another couple and work together towards St. Helens. Definitely feeling like a long day at this point, and we still have 80 km (50 miles) to go. We decide that cokes are a priority at the next food stop.
4:45 p.m. Think of a bunch of reasons why I won’t be doing this again. Most importantly – it’s too far!
4:55 p.m. Pull into the (final) food stop in St. Helens at 175 miles. We both have trouble standing up straight for a few minutes. We have another 45 km or so to ride, so we stuff our faces with as much as we can. I think I ate about 500 calories in about 5 minutes: 2 cookies, a Clif shot, a package of Clif blocks, and a coke. We decide this is the last stop, so grab an extra pack of Clif blocks for the road. Text Jason and let him know we’ll be in by 7:15pm.
5:10 p.m. Leave the final food stop and head out for the final push to Portland. Get in behind a couple of guys, and three other guys behind us.
5:30 p.m. Our lead guys pull off at a store, so Corinne is pulling our group. Can’t find a comfortable hand position anymore.
5:50 p.m. The three guys announce it’s their turn to take a pull, so go to the front and pretty much rip our legs off. We watch them ride away without us. Traffic is picking up as we’re on the outskirts of Portland.
6:15 p.m. Make the final sharp climb up to a bridge into the city. Get in with another group, and everyone’s excited as we’re almost there.
6:30 p.m. Riding through town, and it seems like it’s taking forever to get through the city.
6:45 p.m. Get stopped at a red light
6:46 p.m. Get stopped at a red light.
6:47 p.m. Get stopped at a red light… and this pattern continues for the next 15 minutes, every block. Not that we really care, but watch our average speed on my Garmin plummet with all the stops.
7:00 p.m. We can hear the finish line!
7:05 p.m. Corinne and I roll across the finish line in Holladay Park, ahead of schedule. Jason is there to greet us. 325 km of riding (202 miles) with a ride time of 12:25, and total time of just over 14 hours with our stops. Decide to celebrate with a visit to the beer & wine tent, then clean up and go to Voodoo Doughnuts.
Welcome to Portland!
*Disclaimers: All times are approximate. Basically, I made them up – you try to remember exactly where you were all day when riding over 200 miles! If you know the route and don’t think the times make sense, feel free to tell someone who may care. Photos taken by both Corinne & Jason, and a few I ripped off the STP site.