STP 2008

So, 2008 marks my fourth STP. I’ve done it on El Destructo, a heavy Univega Alpina Uno mountain bike. I did it when I was in decent shape 2 years ago. I did one day last year.

This year, the 2 days of STP was probably the hardest ride I’ve ever done. Kudos to everyone who did it and finished!

I started a bit later than everyone – 5:15 AM, instead of 5:00 AM. I forgot my bib so I had to turn around to get it… not a big deal as I live a few blocks away from the start. I caught on to a fast moving train lead by Steve S., who raced for Wines of Washington about 4 years ago and was wearing the old kit of blue and yellow. Around the Arboritum, I caught up with everyone, chatted with Erika for a bit, and then seems to just break away from everyone. I caught back up with Steve and his crew at the REI food stop, and hung with them for a while. They were on a tear – averaging between 20 and 25 MPH, for an early 1-day finish. I suspect this was my downfall… I kept with, and around mile 70, the beginning of the trail section of STP, I was done. I called out and said I was dropping, mostly as my legs were beginning to hurt and I didn’t feel like speeding down the trail dodging root balls and bumps on my nice friendly bike. But I really haven’t trained at that pace for that distance… it seems as soon as I hit “road race max” – about 70 miles – my legs were done. Youch!

Anyway, I still made fantastic time to Centralia, as I was cruising at my own pace which was still 18 MPH or so. Got in at 11:30, hung out chatting with people for a bit (found some Winos and chatted with them), and then headed to Great Wolf Water Park about 12:30. Got there about 1, waited for quite a bit in checkout, and yay! our room was ready. Grabbed a shower and waited for the kids to arrive, which was about an hour later. All good.

Next day, I got up to a very late start. And I was still _tired_. I got out about 9:00 or so. I anticipated arriving at Scappoose about 1 PM.. heh. I was barely pushing 16 MPH to Centralia on flat road. I looked in, as I needed some sunscreen, and it was deserted. Wow. So I turned around, hit the Chevron for their last bottle of cheap crappy sunscreen, smeared it on for my lifeguard look, and headed out. Shortly after Centralia, I was picked up by three riders – Ryan, who had done STP in 1 day and was doing another 100 miles for fun, Rick, and Erik? or Eric? Luke. Ryan was gassed and not doing any hills quickly, so we kept dropping him. The three of us had a good pace and maintained about 19 MPH down to Scappoose, which I hit about 2:30, a few minutes after Joanna. Then perhaps 10 minutes later the rest of the crew arrived! Wow, timing worked after all. Here’s the Scappoose pic, from left to right: Lauren, Rich, Joanna, Tristan, Erika, Anthony, and Erik. Tristan, 16, rode a random bike he found on the street with a “free” sign that he fixed up. Old 12 speed with suicide brakes and as near as I can tell original components that are older than he is. Great job!

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We rode the rest of the way more or less together. Joanna left Scappoose 5 minutes early, but Anthony and I caught her on the final hill into Portland. We waited at the top for everyone, and got the obligatory picture:

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OK… so, doesn’t seem like anything all that bad, right? Well, the kicker was both days were HOT… and the second day was very hot – 90s, and I did next to no riding in the cool morning hours. That means I stopped at every rest stop and usually filled both bottles. I could feel the dehydration. When I arrived back in Seattle, I weighed myself… I was over 2 pounds lighter, and that’s with pigging out Saturday night and eating breads and other salty goodness during the day. Wow. Rain is annoying, but distance in the heat… just saps the energy.

As I said, my toughest ride ever… which makes finishing all the more worthwhile. Congrats to everyone who did it, as this was one tough STP!