SEATTLE TO PORTLAND - 2008
As we rode our mountain bikes in Mexico during the winter season of 2007-2008, Steve had a goal in mind to keep him motivated. That goal was to ride the 206-mile, Group Health Seattle to Portland ride in July of 2008. When registration opened in January, Steve took the plunge and registered online. By the end of our season in Mexico he had ridden about 2,500 miles, mostly mountain bike miles. What's the difference, other than terrain? Time in the saddle. On a mountain bike a 12-mile-per-hour average is pretty good. Whereas on a road bike you would hope to be doing something in the mid-teens. So, 2,500 mountain bike miles probably equates to 20 to 30 % more road bike miles for the same amount of time in the saddle. And when it comes to semi-endurance rides like STP, time in the saddle is what counts.
The STP ride is unofficially divided into one-day and two-day riders. As the name suggests, the one-day folks ride the whole 206 miles in one day. The two-day'ers, of which Steve was a member, have several layover options where they can stop for the night. Centralia, fittingly, is about at the half-way point and many 2D riders stop there.
Steve had the benefit of Kay's support for this ride. She drove our Chevy motorhome ahead of him. The plan was to stop at an RV park at the 130-mile mark.
The 1D riders start at 5:30am, and the 2D folks can start soon after to as late as 7:30am. To avoid having to depart Gig Harbor at something like 4:30am and then fight for a parking spot, we opted to drive up to the start at the University of Washington in Seattle the night before and "camp out" in the parking lot.
Here you see our van "Qualie" in a nearly empty parking lot just as the sun was going down on July 11th. The next morning the parking lot was full. We enjoyed a nice "carbo-loading" spaghetti dinner and then a movie before trying to get some sleep before the masses began arriving.
That happened at about 4am. Not being able to sleep throught the noise, and having nothing better to do Steve got dressed while Kay made breakfast.
Here's Steve about ready to go queue up behind the 1-day riders.
We need to add some better photos, and perhaps a separate page about his "new" bike. The bike he's about to get on here is a 2006 Specialized Roubaix Expert. The frame is all made out of carbon fiber and is very light. The whole bike weighs less than 18 pounds. He shopped for it and bought it online at eBay while we were still in Mexico so it was waiting for us when we arrived back in Gig Harbor. He had the opportunity to do a month's worth of training rides and the Peninsula Century organized 100-mile ride on the new bike prior to the STP.
We also bought Kay a new bike on eBay at the same time, a Specialized Sirrus hybrid. It's just out of sight on the rack on the back of the van.
Steve is at the start, ready to go right after the one-day crowd. To improve breathing, he has a Breathe-Right strip on his nose. It was cold so he has his STP wind jacket and long-fingered gloves on.
The start, was one of the tensest, most dangerous parts of the ride. Riders were released in flights of 50-60 riders bunched tightly together. If you were unfortunate to have an inexperienced rider in front of or beside you who suddenly stopped or swerved, you went down.
Fortunately for Steve, he was able to quickly get some elbow room within a couple of blocks of leaving the start. Nevertheless, he was to witness several accidents later on.
A crew of 8 to 10 professional photographers (Marathon Photo) were on the course at various points. The photos below were taken by them. The two on the right were taken on Day 1 after it had warmed up and Steve had removed his wind jacket and switched to half-fingered gloves.
The two Marathon photos below were taken on Day 2, after our overnight stay in Vader, Washington.
The photo on the far left was taken as Steve was crossing a bridge over the Willamette River and entering Portland.
At left, he's just crossing the finish line at Halliday Park across from Lloyd Center in downtown Portland.
Here's a photo taken by Kay as Steve leaves a rest stop at the Tenino city park, followed by just some of the 9,500 riders that took part in this huge event.
Spanaway High School was another rest stop. Riders could pick up fruit, cookies and something to drink at stops like these, as well as make use of the 20 or so porta-potties.
At Halliday Park, the finish of the ride, there were several food vendors, bicycle related vendors, and a stage with live music.
After Steve changed into street clothes, we hung around for a while to people watch, and then headed home in the van.
Steve's total time for the ride was approximately 11.5 hours at an average speed of just under 18 miles per hour.