STP (report)

Ok… one week later and here’s my STP report: After a relaxing, but sort of crumby birthday (due to being sick) we packed our things and got to bed as early as we could (which is not easy for us). Saturday morning (7/9/11) we got up at an ungodly hour and drove the long way to the University of Washington (since the 520 bridge was closed). Unfortunately we got started a little later than planned and decided to skip coffee (a decision I regretted later in the day). We found parking, put on our numbers and sunblock, loaded our overnight bags on the truck heading to Castle Rock, visited the porta-johns, and headed to the start line. I was already overwhelmed by all the people and the chaos. STP sold out 10,000 spots for this ride. And there were additional riders for support and first aid. SOoo many people and too early in the morning! I think we started through the chute with a LARGE crowd of other riders around 6:45am. They had most of the intersections closed to through traffic for us while still in Seattle. I enjoyed the crisp air and amazing view of the sun rise & Mt Rainer, but have to be honest that I did not like the crowds. Too many riders of different speeds and skill levels all going the same direction = chaos. But for the most part it was uneventful. Our first stop was at the REI store in Kent, WA. Again, I was utterly overwhelmed by the amount of people! I seriously felt like I was in the middle of a rat cage and had a strong desire to break free. But Yancy was in line for the porta-john so I was stuck. This is what the day pretty much consisted of. The ride was well organized. They had spray painted arrows at all intersections so we never needed to consult a map and never feared getting lost. The stops were all crazy crowded. The weather was beautiful. The food was satisfying. The cold medicines I took worked well enough, even though I was going through kleenex’s pretty fast and I had a mild headache the whole day. We kept a good pace when we weren’t overcrowded by other riders. I saw two ugly crashes (which I am still trying to get out of my head), one of them the guy jumped up and claimed he was ok, even though I doubt he was. And the other guy was unconscious and needed an ambulance. Scarey! Yancy had let me set the pace to start, but in the afternoon he complained that I was going too fast so I let him set the pace. He slowed down a bit, but we got through it. I actually felt really good for the first 100 miles, but the last 20-30 miles were really hard! What do you expect when your longest training ride is 60 miles?!? My legs were feeling fine, but my hands/elbows/shoulders and feet were really hurting. At one of the stops Yancy had a little crash of his own. We were on a trail at that point and it was so crowded that people were unable to clear the trail. Someone stopped without warning in front of him and he didn’t have time to get un-clipped from his bike. The result was a mildly bloody elbow, a few bruises, and a grouchy Yancy. There was almost another big pile up on the Longview bridge (going into Oregon) when some guy dropped his chain immediately in front of Yancy. A few people collided, but thankfully no one went down… that would have been a disaster with the cars whizzing past!

We made it to Castle Rock and were both pretty exhausted. After many breaks (some longer than they should have been), we had ridden just over 135 miles!!! It was about 8pm when we got our bags and forced ourselves back on the bikes to head to our family’s house in town. Yancy’s aunt Betty was there to greet us and immediately had us feeling right at home. She had cooked us an amazing spaghetti dinner and Tamara had gone to the store to get us bottled waters and breakfast foods. We felt so spoiled by our family! Aunt Betty even stayed up late to wash our clothes!!! AND they bought me a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!  :O) I didn’t sleep too well even though I was exhausted. Partly it was my coughing but also random outbursts from the alarm clock picking up cell phone signals and making annoying buzzing noises.

The cold had me even more tired the next day, but I still made it over the last 70 miles. I have to laugh because Yancy was really whiny for the second half of the first day, but he was my strength for the second day. I was exhausted and sore, but I stayed on his wheel and we got there! The route for the second half was NOT FLAT! Not sure who told me STP was “flat, except one hill,” but I’d sure like to slap them! Ah well, it was character building. And I can now say that I’ve ridden my bike from Seattle to Portland, 204+ miles in two days (&with a cold)! I’m not sure I really want to do the ride again because of the crowds. Maybe if I trained better and could do it in one day, starting early to get ahead of the other 9,000 people.

The finish line is kind of a blur in my memory. The last 10 miles seemed to take forever, but then on the final block, the finish line happened before I even realized it! At this point, I was sun burnt, exhausted, sick, tired of the crowds, and ready to go home. We didn’t stick around the finish area long. We picked up our bags, loaded our bikes on the truck headed to Seattle, changed our clothes, and hopped on a bus heading for Seattle. We then proceeded to take the LONGEST bus ride ever! Traffic leaving Portland was horrendous! Apparently that same day there was another bike event and a triathlon in Portland, as well as a soccer game (which the Sounders won of course). I think we were on that bus for over 4 hours and when we got to Seattle, our bikes hadn’t arrived. So we went out for a high fat dinner and drink. It was a long day and we were spent. It’s a good thing we had both already requested Monday off from work (& scheduled massages). Oh ya, and I got a tattoo on Monday afternoon before dinner and drinks with friends.  😉

A difficult, but amazing weekend!!!   (pictures to come in another post)

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