Home > Uncategorized > Seattle to Portland… on a bike

Seattle to Portland… on a bike

This past weekend Ian, Chris and myself did the STP.  It was a long day, but we made it in 1 day.  I thought I would share a short summary of it.

We have been doing some training, nothing close to 202 miles, but generally we all felt pretty good about the day.  Nerves of course, and then I had the week from you know where leading up to the day, sick as a dog with a major chest infection.  So I wasn’t feeling absolutely perfect Friday night. 

Sat 3AM wake-up call.  The plan was to roll with the other 1-dayers at 4:45AM, from the UW parking lot, so that meant picking the guys up by 4.  We had all the bikes up at my place Friday night, so Sat was just grab the lads and go.  3AM is early to wake up. No matter how you slice it. 

We got together in the rig, and made our way to the UW parking lot.  It was definitely a place where a large event was ‘going’ to take place, but at 430AM it was still pretty subdued.  We got the bikes ready, grabbed our bags to drop at the trucks – they took them down in a bag check system for us.  And we headed to the start line. 

They let us off in small bunches, we were in the 2nd cluster of riders, crossing the start line somewhere around 4:50 AM.  It was busy.  A LOT of bikes.  The pace was also really high.  Nerves, extra energy etc everywhere.  We headed out along Lake WA, which was just starting to see a sunrise.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  Dry, warm, and promising to be sunny.  Within the first 5 miles, we probably saw 10 riders already dealing with flat tires.  Something none of us had to sort out all day.  Lucky there.         

The first 24 miles were pretty hairy.  A LOT of bikes, in groups, going at a pace we were surprised to see.  We hit the first major rest stop at the REI store in Kent, but we kept going.  Needless to say that place was an ants nest.  We finally hit our first scheduled stop at Puyallup, 41 miles in.  At that point we were averaging 18.5 mph.  Next, we stopped at the 67 miles mini stop, McKenna, averaging a similar 18.5mph.  That was 3:39 into the ride. 

We carried on, well above our planned 15mph average, but because of the large numbers of riders, the pace was a lot easier to keep up.  We stopped for our formal lunch break at midway.  Centralia – 100 miles.  At that point we were averaging 18:6mph, 5:26 into the ride.  Some beautiful roads and trails along this stretch, but it was warming up, and the riders were thinning out. 

Next stop for us was Vader.  7hrs in, averaging a little lower, 17.7mph, but at 128 miles into the ride, definitely making good progress.  We carried onto the 150 mile mark, dropping the average to 17.7mph.  It was also REALLY thinning out, many riders did the ride in 2 days, and we were now past the point for 2 day schedules, so all the riders left out there were going for it.  Next we stopped for water at Goble, along the Columbia River valley, at 162 miles .  This was just past the huge Lewis and Clarke bridge – a treacherous LARGE multi lane arching bridge over the  Columbia River between WA and OR.  This thing was crazy scary.  Large, heavy traffic, no bike lane, and we were WIPED.  Huge climb, then fast descent.  Right into an access ramp onto the highway.  It was nuts.  Add to that how tired we were, and the descent off it was rough.  I genuinely thought it was the place a lot of accidents must happen.  We were inches from cars going at speed, there was a cross wind, and a metal /cement foor.  Add the expansion joints, metal plates, did I mention a cross wind, and it was a LONG 15 minutes. 

Our next stop was St. Helens, 175 miles into the day.  Although only 27 miles left, less than to work and back, it was 27 miles, and 2 hours.  It was also 2 rest stops and done.  We were managing to stay well hydrated, and fed, all carrying bars and snacks.  We hit 1 more stop at the 188 mile point, at Scappoose, before making the kick to Portland.  There was hardly anyone left on the road, and with only 3 in our group the speed dropped more.  Hutts was definitely the ‘Maillot jaune’ of the day as well as our polka dotted hill climber.  He led most of the way for the afternoon, proving to be a much more consistent pace rider than anyone else.  :). 

Then, we saw Portland skyline.  What sucked was that from the ‘Welcome to Portland’ sign, it was another 10 miles.  Thats like at least 30 minutes more riding.  So as relieving as it was to see that, we had more riding to go.  Once inside the city limits, it became a bit of a race, with a small breakaway group leaving the peloton and going for the finish.  The last few miles were deep in the city, over a couple of bridges, and into the downtown.  Also a couple of hills that took out more riders.  How rough would it be to hit the 199 mile mark, on a major hill, and take a flat tire?  I saw 2 in that boat.  Man, I felt for them.

The finish was crazy.  There were hundreds of people screaming and cheering, as we rode into the park.  There was quite a party going on, with a New Belgium beer tent, food, and music.  I am sure on Sunday that place was chaos, with another 8000 people passing through the gates compared to riding right up to the finish line alone. 

Final stats for the day, 11:55:21hrs. 202 miles total covered.  Avg speed 16.7 mph (thats 26.7Km) , average cadence 72 (lower than I thought).  We completed the ride together with no accidents, injuries, flat tires, or other incidents.  It was a REALLY successful ride for all of us.  We had a couple of beers at the finish line, then jumped on the Portland tram system to our hotel where we had a burger and crashed.  Sunday was a 1mile ride (ouch) to the car rental and a LONG drive home.  

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