STP 2011 – One day redux

3:15 in the morning is still dark. It’s before the alarm, and I’ve only had about 3.5 hours of real sleep, interrupted once by people outside on the street.

Getting dressed, including the ritual of the “butt wax” (chamois butter), migrating laundry, eating, emptying the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher, feeding the cats, letting the cat out, trying to get the cat back in, packing the last minute things into my bag and doing the last minute check of the bike… somehow it all gets done by 4:20 and we’re in the garage putting gear on our bikes. Rob cycles up to my house, having stayed at friend’s house just a few blocks away. We leave our bags in the garage for Sharlyn to pick up (Thanks Sharlyn!), I run into the house for that inevitable “one last thing I forgot”, I lock the garage and we’re on our way.

The birds are chirping. The sky is lightening. Still the streets are dark and quiet.

We meet up with Bill at 25th and the Burke Gillman, he had gotten there just seconds before. We ride to the start – Stephen’s new front and rear lights fall off as we go over some bumps as we enter Montlake and a car runs over his tail light.

Anthony and Steve, coldWe connected up with Anthony and Steve G “where the espresso stand used to be” – as Rob goes off to drop his bag on the truck. Anthony and his crew are in front of us, we figure out how to connect.

“Are you excited” says the guy over the loudspeaker? Yes, really, but mostly kind of chilly and nervous about my recently sprained ankle and just wanting to go. At least this is better than 2 years ago, I’m better trained and not riding on a bruise the size of a cell phone.

The start is slow, as usual. Someone bumps into the curb as we leave the Montlake parking lot. First bike down… not an auspicious start to the ride.

I get a phone call, there was an issue with some of the Portland crew Anthony knows, and they are behind us. We figure they’re faster than us and will catch up at REI. I can’t find Mitchel or Brad – I figure they’re going to start later and will just zoom passed at some point (it turns out they were in front of us and we had NO chance of ever seeing them. Brad finished in just over 12 hours. Mitchel had a great ride speed wise, but also was a ride ref and had to stay with the 8 accidents he saw. He finished at around 6:45pm).

But even as we climb the tiny little hill on Brooklyn from Pacific to Campus Parkway, I’m noticing something. The hill doesn’t bug me, I’m not winded and I don’t have to downshift.

SunriseOur one siting of Michael LIt gets bright over the Cascades as we are making our way along Lake Washington Blvd, but we don’t see the full sunrise this time until we hit Rainier Blvd. Michael in his flannel shirt, cotton socks and gardening gloves catches up briefly to us as we are climbing up from Lake WA to Rainier, he hangs with Stephen and then we never see him again. Apparently he finished his first STP, in one day, in about 12 hours. Amazing.

I know we’re about 1/2 way to REI… I eat half a bag of sharkies and hand the other half to Stephen.

Skateboarders In the Kent Valley we see two things: the skateboarders who started at 3:30 am and another accident – an unhappy guy who obviously had a broken shoulder/collar bone/something being tended to by medics.

At REI One day riding is great for a few reasons but one of them is getting to the REI food stop early and getting your pick of the Odwalla and the semi fresh sanicans. Can’t emphasize the importance of the latter. I eat a 1/2 banana, a whole odwalla chocolate protein, grab a bagel and throw it into my bento box. We hooked back up with Anthony (who had shed his coat and was now flying the PPTM jersey), Steve G & the Portland crew. Average speed to REI was 16.6mph, and we were at the rest stop about 10 minutes total.

We had a really nice pace/paceline going through the valley, through Puyallup. Steve’s rear water bottle carrier shattered in front of me after hitting a bump and he lost a water bottle and half of the carrier, but no one got hit by the debris. We didn’t go back for the bottle either. It was one of many things we saw on the road – bike lights, bottles, sunglasses… you could collect a bounty if you took the time.

I ate half a NuGo bar as we turn into Puyallup, and the other half as we pass the mini stop. I knew the hill was coming and I wanted to have something in the tank for that, plus we were about 1/2 the way from Kent to Spanaway. I feel like I did reasonably well on The Hill because I didn’t make everyone wait as long as I thought they’d have to! It only took me a song and a half on my speakers to get up it… Not many people passed me either. So I was pretty happy about that. I ate the mini bagel at the top. (Average speed to Spanaway was 16.8mph).

In the line at Spanaway. Grabbing food as we canAt Spanaway we stacked our bikes against the fence with Stephen’s remark “bike stacking is the corollary to bin packing.” I grabbed some cookies and rice crispy treat packets and stuffed them into my jersey, ate an oreo, a few oranges, pretzels, and a yummy Jamba juice. The bathroom line was long but the sanicans – really, for sanicans I can’t complain (and I hate sanicans). Unfortunately the lines were longer and we were here about 20 minutes though. I still think the better thing to do is to skip Spanaway and go 2 blocks to the Safeway around the corner to the bathrooms but I’ve never done it. Then again, had I done that I’d miss the Jamba juice…

The next section is back behind Ft Lewis and we didn’t really have much trouble with it – just fast and flat, taking turns pulling. Anthony, Steve and crew pulled ahead, but we figured we’d catch up eventually. Average speed to McKenna was 18.1mph, where we stopped for just a few minutes to pick up some Vitamin I and hit the bathrooms (no lines!). We hooked back up with “Legs” Lamarca and crew again. I ate something here, one of the rice crispy treats I think, I’m not sure. I also remembered to start putting sunscreen on my lips…

The next section of the ride is that Yelm Tenino trail – people have really mixed feelings on this. On one hand, it’s SO much nicer than years ago having to ride on the road next to it and dealing with the cars. On the other hand – 10,000 people on bikes going between 15-25mph on a skinny trail with “posts” in the middle (the posts were removed and this year they at least had some yellow cardboard or something covering the post holes – in past years it was either the post or the holes)…. it’s kind of crazy. In past years I’ve seen at least one or two accidents along this spot. This year we saw a bad one – a guy lying perpendicular to the trail with a group of people around him. We had to really slow down and put our feet down to get by. I heard someone asking “do you know where you are” and someone else calling 911, so I felt like it was ok to keep going. Still it gets you shaken a little bit.

Average speed for the 17 miles from McKenna to Tenino (including the trail): 18.1mph.

PPTM in TeninoAt Tenino I pulled into our “usual” spot under the trees and yup, there was Anthony again. I love that we’re creatures of habit. At least this time he wasn’t asleep like a few years ago. I got three cookies from the bake sale folks (the cookies there are GREAT), I ate one, gave one away, and saved one for later. We filled up water bottles. Some used the rest rooms but the lines were long so I wanted to wait until Centralia. We stayed about 15 minutes. Longer than I wanted, but we were still making good time.

The next section was 13 miles, mostly down hill to Centralia and we averaged 17.5 mph – although our speed before hitting the stop lights in Centralia was 18.5. The photographers were in a slightly different place this year – not taking photos with the red barn behind us – I’m wondering what they’ll turn out like. But we were in a nice paceline as they were firing away. I bet they got some good shots.

Creamsicles!We arrived at the college around 11:30 with about 5:45 ride time under our belts. We at our creamsicles (YUM!), drank our chocolate milk, got our free one day food, got in the line for the one day sani-cans. In line for the bathrooms, someone says to Stephen “That’s the nerdiest jersey I’ve ever seen!” I talked with Linda at this point who told me she had just supported Mitchel who had just left Centralia about 10 minutes ago, was in Chahalis, and she was still over by the highway. I told her we probably didn’t need support until Oregon, but we would check in between now and then. Anthony, Steve G, Boyd and the Portland crew left and we said we’d catch up with them at least by St Helens. Rob left to use the bathrooms at the shorter lines in Chehalis and we’d catch up. We only stayed in Centralia 25 minutes total – down from the almost hour I stayed last time. If you’re really trying to save time you don’t get your support here – you grab the creamsicles and go find support other places. It just takes too long.

The tenor of the ride changes once you’re passed Centralia or Chahalis on the one day ride. First off it’s a LOT less crowded. Also it’s getting hot. The winds get “squirrelly” even if you had a tail wind for most of the ride to this point because your cutting back and forth across the valley. Also on a two day ride it’s about the social aspect, like the riders of the fat tire bikes we saw early on, stopping for longer at each stop, chatting more on the pacelines. If you’re on a one day ride it’s about making sure you’re gear is good, eating at the right times, spinning your legs, metering your heart rate or watts, watching the pedals in front of you and keeping the sticky side down.

We caught up with Rob somewhere in the valley but before the Napavine hill. Actually of all the hills on STP, Napavine is my least favorite, particularly on one day. It’s hot. It’s exposed. It’s just a long drag. One two days there’s fresh baked bread for sale at the top. One day I guess there is but I missed it. We stopped so Stephen and Bill could get more water. I overheard some other guys talking about gu packets, and thought about eating something but I didn’t because I was full from lunch and that was my mistake. Instead I drank some accelerade and stretched my leg to try to relieve the pinch point/numbness in my left ring toe which was already starting. Our average speed from Centralia to Napavine was 15.6mph and we were literally only there for 5 minutes.

The EggNapavine to Winlock was pretty easy and I insisted that we needed a picture of Bill with the Egg (no STP is complete without your picture with the Egg!). It turns out a) we just missed the Winlock Egg Days and b) speedy Brad has gone through there countless times and had no clue there was a giant egg there. We stopped for coffee at the espresso stand. I was hungry (I needed the protein in the iced soy latte) and more than that I needed a caffeine boost. I was so desperate I even got a double. The extra ice went into my accelerade bottle – the heat from the road was starting to make that taste nasty. I also ate my other Tenino cookie. Bill didn’t partake of the coffee but was apparently tempted by the smells of the BBQ. Average speed to Winlock was 18.2mph and we were there about 10 minutes, with the coffee stop. I also checked in with Linda at some point in here – she told me when she was going to be in Vader, I told her I’d look for her but not to wait if she didn’t see us.

Winlock to Vader was surprisingly quick (it is only about 7 miles and it took us only 23 minutes (18.4mph average). I wanted to stop to stretch my foot out again, someone needed the bathroom, we put on sunscreen. We were here 10 minutes but it seemed much longer. Particularly when you immediately have to start up the “hill that no one tells you about” right away.

Up and over. Then up and over more rollers. Then into Castle Rock another 10 miles away. I did a quick scan to see if I saw Anthony & crew, or even Linda, or Joan and Paul (who were driving my van down and had texted they were just passing the Vader stop a bit before this). It took us 36 minutes to get there, averaging 16.6 miles an hour on the rollers and hills. We stayed at least 15 minutes here – eating (as an after thought I ate the rice crispy treat), refilling water bottles, using the REAL bathrooms, I reapplied chamois butter, stretching out to un-numb my toes, and then wet my buff down and put it back under my helmet. I checked in with Linda, who just decided she’d meet us at Goble – I was thankful for that.

St. Helens to Lexington was another 1/2 hour at an average of 16.2mph (I blame the rollers and the heat). Just before the turn into Lexington we were stopped by an ambulance pulling away and a bicycle on the side of the road. Only later did we find out that someone had a heart attack and they were taking him, eventually, to Harborview. Sad and scary to see a fellow cyclist taken off like that. It just gives me pause and I hope he is ok.

And then there were 4... at LexingtonWe turned into the park and there we see Sharlyn and Helen! Helen was even brave enough to hug her sweaty dad. Usually there’s pretty good food at Lexington – it was a little light this time and there were no turkey wraps by the time we got there. I was bummed and had a PB&J but they still had roast beef. The trick, I told Stephen, is to take off your helmet and use it to carry all the food. He had a serious case of hat head under there… We stayed 20 minutes to eat (sandwich, fruit, and I saved the pretzels), relax, stretched the toes again (which were numb again), recharge my garmin… I kept dropping things on the ground at this point. I get so clutzy when I’m tired. I called and left a message for Anthony – just to let him know where we were. I figured we wouldn’t see him again at this point. I called to let Linda know we were leaving Lexington.

Stephen and Bill on approachOregonI knew that last time I got into Oregon at 4:45 pm. I was on track to do better this time, but I had hoped to do even better than we were. Particularly with the tail wind I thought we could get across by 4pm. We hit a huge headwind going towards the bridge – which is a good sign, meaning we’d have a great tail wind once we got across into Oregon. But still Bill and Stephen were tired, and I had aerobars and they did not. I jumped out ahead before I knew it and waited for them at the light before the approach. The bridge was just a slow slog up and over because your single file (as opposed to two day riders who go up in waves). You’re as fast as the person in front of you, for better or for worse. Spin and just get there. Our average speed from Lexington into Oregon was 14.3, to Goble was 15.9 mph. The 17 miles took us just over an hour… and somewhere in here we lost Rob…

Linda and CokeLinda, true to her word, met us in Goble with oreos, potato chips and thankfully coke. Now I don’t drink coke but I was totally craving it the last time I rode and it was no where to be found passed the gas station as you get off the bridge. But here I was, drinking, no chugging, this cold, black, sweet, salty liquid and loving it. We did stay here about 20 minutes, I used the bathroom (with no line!), stretched to reset the toes again, I ate 2 oreos and some chips. We refilled our water bottles. I charged my garmin again (every little bit helped). Even Stephen had a coke, and he doesn’t drink coke. We thanked Linda and were back on our way.

Bill and a mountainRoute 30 in Oregon is usually pretty nasty. Late in the day there is a lot of traffic, but at least it’s cooler because the sun is behind most of the hills and trees. It makes it almost bearable – particularly when you’re going down into some of the valleys near some water. It’s cool, the air feels crisp, particularly on your skin that’s been baking in the sun all day. I was fired up on caffeine and sugar. It took us 45 minutes to do the next 13 miles at 18.1 mph. We stopped at St. Helens, just briefly (10 minutes), I ate my pretzels (from Lexington), and someone used the bathroom. Bill went under the sprinklers and said it felt really nice. We couldn’t figure out where Rob was. (Rob withdrew at St. Helens with stomach issues. He’s fine; we saw him Sunday morning at breakfast and gave him a ride back to Seattle.)

We saw Mt. St. Helens, Mt Adams, Mt Hood, all covered in snow and looking gorgeous. Not a cloud in the sky. We did see many of the same riders over and over – for instance we kept leapfrogging a tandem team (and their support vehicle) with “Jolly Roger” pirate jerseys on them. Their support team kept passing us by and shaking their cowbells. Kind of the equivalent of your support team riding by and screaming “Nice butt” on Ragnar, it did feel good.

Shuffling off (13 miles) to Scapoose took us another 40 minutes at 18.7 mph. I was a little sad to think I wasn’t going to be meeting up with Erik, Joanna, Rich and my usual PPTM gang to ride into Portland together. I was surprised to see there was a bit of support there – but very few people. Linda pulled in to a driveway a few blocks down and we got more support (a little more food and more water). We only stayed about 10 minutes and a few of those were just helping poor Pucker (Linda and Mitchel’s dog) back in the truck after getting to stretch his legs. At this point we just wanted to be done. It was 18 more miles according to the cue book, including a new route over the St. Johns bridge. The end was in sight, so to speak.

St. John's bridgeThis was the only time getting back on the bike and spinning took a little more effort. Once on and going, I was fine… not sore (except for the stupid numb toes), but the legs were just a little…reluctant. I was a little worried about the climb onto the St. John’s bridge and how it would compare to what I affectionately call the F.U. Hill (by Montgomery park on the old route), particularly after *seeing* it as we approached. The climb was slow, but steady and not too steep, but really my legs were pretty tapped out.

The route on the other side of the river in NW Portland is MUCH nicer – the view is pretty, it’s shaded.

NW PortlandNW PortlandNW Portland

There’s a stretch with a 15mph sign that I got to blink at me for doing 18 (I found it in me to sprint, but couldn’t catch the picture in time… next time I will). Then we hit all the untimed stop lights. That was annoying. I think the route may be 2 miles longer than last year too. But the finish is mostly downhill, which is nice. We averaged 15.1mph but the last 18 miles took us almost an 1:15. We arrived at the finish line to get our 1 day tags just before 8:20 to see Paul, Joan, Steve G, Helen and Sharlyn on the right side of the finish shoot.

Finish

After getting our bags from Sharlyn and checking in and that WONDERFUL shower, we had a great meal (and I had 2 drinks!) at Andina. MMMM. Thanks to Brad, who had been in since 4pm, for organizing that. Breakfast was at the J&M Cafe the next morning.

Finished

Many many thanks to Paul and Joan for driving my van down and being my Oreo Fairies, Sharlyn and Helen for bag transport (and smiling faces in Lexington), and Linda for the support in Oregon. Big thanks to Silvia, Mitchel, Anthony, Steve, Stephen, Bill, Rob (and the Portland Crew) for their many hours of ride support (aka, allowing me to suck their wheels). Thanks to Elias and Matthew for putting up with my crazy training schedule. Big thanks to Stacia for her fantastic coaching and Neal Goldberg (Footworks PT) for putting my sprained ankle back together enough so I could do this.

And thank you to everyone for all your words of encouragement and support. Riding STP in one day is not a solo experience by any stretch of the imagination… I could not have done this (yes that’s the data) without you all. All the pictures are in my gallery.

Seattle Century Year 2

Just a quick post: Ruben and I met up with Chris and Andre at 7am at the start of the Seattle Century. I had met Chris (who lives in Ravenna) and Andre (who lives in Nome Alaska) last year on the same ride. Andre also had a friend with him named Steve.

Here are the stats.

We skipped the first stop in Bothell – which had moved from last year from across the bridge to the place where the “Killer Chickens” live and went onto the second stop at Marymoor. Although the though of Fried Chicken at the second stop was not too thrilling to my morning stomach, it was a little odd not to see it there this year. Steve was splitting off from us at this point to do a modified 50 mile loop and would meet us in Issaquah.

The next section on the century route had the hill – up and over to the Snoqualmie river valley. The stop was at Cherry Valley elementary. My problem: my stomach wasn’t “booting up” this morning and getting food into me was a little difficult. I couldn’t quite get myself to eat the yummy Dave’s Killer Bread.

This year there were no problems with the signs on Cherry Valley Road as they used the Dan Henrys instead of posted yellow signs that could be turned around. However I’m grateful for those signs – I wouldn’t have met Chris and Andre if it wasn’t for the tricksters that tried to turn us around.

Next stop was my favorite. Remlinger Farm and Peach Raspberry pie. Oh man, it totally hit the spot. I also bumped into Brandy, who was also doing the century, as I was leaving. She was arriving as we were leaving, but we got to chat for a bit before we headed out.

Our next stop was Preston and the Talking Rain site. The cold ActivWater tasted SOOOO good. We stretched and took off our shoes. And fortunately for Chris they had the pasta salad, although I avoided it this year.

Once again the ride on the highway was a thrill, but my back tire felt like it was coming out from underneath me. I wondered if it was the cross winds or if something else was going on. I took it slower than the rest of the gang. Still it’s quite the rush to be on the highway for an exit!

In Issaquah we met back up with Steve and headed towards Bellevue up Newport Way. The question became: would they have us go up the killer Zoo hill this year and this year they did not – they even eliminated the killer approach to the killer hill. We were all very grateful for that.

The Mercer Island stopped moved from last year at Luther Burbank Park to the Lid Park. Unfortunately we missed out on the strawberries for strawberry shortcake. Ruben came up with the good idea to use the jelly on the poundcake and put the whipped cream on that. It did in a pinch.

The last bit of ride was uneventful, but a little slow. It was heating up (I think the final temp was in the mid 80s, although the original forecast was for the low 90s). I was a little behind on calories and felt it. Brandy caught up to me on the last stretch on the Burke Gilman trail and we chatted about the various events we’ve done or are planning to do.

The dinner was great as always, although they were slow on getting the salmon out. I couldn’t stop touching the ice sculpture. I was pretty wiped out. Ruben, still energetic was talking about getting home and trying to convince me to go up 65th. I told him if I rode home at all it would be around to U Village and even then I may ask for a pick up to get up the hill. In the end, he went up 65th and I went around and even made it up the hill (with Chris along to help motivate me), but Ruben only got home about 5 minutes before I did.

It was a good ride, great company and food, and I really wasn’t sore after (although I did do an ice bath).

A newbie’s version of STP in one day

This is pretty long, so here are the short bits:

Stats. Photos are at Marathon photo- Ruben is 4655 and I’m 4654.

Highlights from the trip:
– It’s amazing what a body can do on little sleep.
– Ruben recovers from tumbles exceedingly well.
– Ruben and Matt are fantastic for sticking with me even though I’m slower than him.
– Riding 202 miles with a flashing princess crown.
– “It’s a small world” even on a bike ride with 10,000 people
– 0 flats for 3 people.
– Compression on a bruise helps.
– Food, food and more food.
– The 3 H’s kicked my ass mid-day – heat, hills and headwinds.

Longer story:
My story starts the Wednesday before when I went down a water park slide. I turned sideways at the end of the slide’s cement ramp, the plastic sled I was riding came out from under me, I skid on my back on the concrete and the sled flipped over and it’s handle hit me in the “gutter” between my leg (panty line) and the girl parts. It hurt, but it was hard to see so I didn’t ice it all day. The resulting bruise was at least 2″ x 4″ and the worst shade of black and red and really hurt once the bathing suit came off. I iced it and put Arnica on it for 2 days and got pretty low – all that training and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do the ride.

When I came home on Friday – I tried sitting on my bike. It was a little painful, but ok. I went for a 5 minute ride on my bike outside, including a short 1 block hill, then put the bike on the trainer. I did 1/2 an hour and it was ok but I didn’t want to overdo it.

Being ever prepared, I wound up making a few contingency plans
a) Getting on the bike at 4:30 am, hurts to much, punt and get in my car and drive SAG for Ruben
b) Stopping anywhere in the first 10 miles, finding a bus and getting home that way
c) Stopping at REI, calling someone for a pickup.
d) Stopping in Centralia – I had packed a separate bag and sent it with Rich and Joanna’s bag (with MK). Rich and Joanna said I could spend the night in their room if I had to.
e) Stopping any time between Centralia and Portland – Liz, the sweetheart she is, who was driving SAG for her hubby and friends, was even willing to come back and get me if it got to be too much.

Then there were the super secret contingency plans
– I gave the 18 year old instructions on how to find us on the route so if I had to I could call and beg him to come pick me up and take me home
– Ruben carrying enough cash in his pocket that would get me by cab anywhere.

Still even with all these contingency plans, I was a nervous wreck.

Elizabeth and Greg kindly hosted a carbo load party which was a lot of fun. Stephen, Kristina, Erik (with Laura), Joan (who wasn’t riding, but joined us for good wishes), Rich, Joanna, Ruben and I got to partake of the yummy chicken burritos and limeade. Elizabeth gave out our prizes for the STP supplemental training program. During this I was being a little bit Princessy about not sending in “points” – just what I had done to train for the week and leaving it up to Elizabeth to determine points so my prize was a princess crown that blinked! This *obviously* had to be attached to my helmet.

The rest of the evening was about ride preparations and I got into bed around 10. I started to fall asleep reading, but when Ruben came in, I woke up. I realized I had forgotten a few things on my bike, got up around 11:30 and put on a back light and pumped the tires. My heart was pounding and kept singing “Help I’m Alive” by Metric to myself: “http://www.lyricsbay.com/help_im_alive_lyrics-metric.html” –

Help, Im alive, my heart keeps beating like a hammer
Hard to be soft, tough to be tender
Come take my pulse, the pace is on a runaway train
Help, Im alive, my heart keeps beating like a hammer, beating like a hammer

I tried sleeping on the couch to keep from waking Ruben. He came down and tucked me in anyway. I wound up getting about 2 hours of sleep, waking up right after a dream and realizing at least I got 1 cycle that included REM sleep. It was just before the alarm went off at 3:45 am. I went upstairs and Ruben was also waking up. He told me he only got 1 hour of sleep.

Getting ready was pretty uneventful. We left the house at around 4:30 and it was still dark and I had no front light so I had to take off my amber sunglasses to go down the hill to the starting line. I was pretty nervous and tentative as we started out and kept my speed down. We saw a lot of other folks with bikes on their cars on the road, plus a few other cyclists as we came closer to the parking lot. The cars were backed up a long way. I’m glad I live close to the start.

It was kind of odd going passed all the other baggage trucks for midpoint lodging… finally we got to our Portland bound truck and dropped off the bags. Then we waited where the espresso cart used to be – it wasn’t there this year :(. It turned out that Erik, Rich and Joanna missed the first wave, but we decided to go anyway because we knew it would be a long day ahead.

I noticed it was starting to get a little lighter out and I relaxed a little bit more. We saw the rider with bib number 10,000 pass us on Boyer. What caught our attention was him saying loud enough for us to hear “yeah, I had to pay extra for it.” (it was raising money for Cascade’s Major Taylor project).

Our one major incident happened in the first 6 miles of the ride. We were going down the S-turn to Lake Washington Blvd. I was apparently ahead by a little bit and came around the 2nd curve on the inside. So did Ruben, only he got crowded out by folks who cut the curve closer from the center. He had a choice of going into the curb or trying to jump it, so he did. The tumbled over the bike, going down between two big boulders on the side of the road! I saw someone tumble and was worried, but had to keep going as people were behind me. Then the yellow sleeves of his jersey caught my eyes. I immediately pulled over even though others were whizzing past, got off the road and ran up the hill calling his name. Other riders were calling out “He’s up, he’s ok,” but I thought that was the end of the ride anyway. I was really glad to see not a scratch on him, and he didn’t even seem to shaken. His front brakes didn’t work but other than that the bike seemed ok. With a little adjustment he could go on and we debated stopping at Seward for a check. Strangely, part of me relaxed more thinking our trip was “pre-dinged.”

We saw one of the skateboarders early in the ride – on the flat part of Lake WA Blvd. Either I was really early or he started later than normal (I usually pass him on the trail between Yelm and Tenino).

We passed the Seward park stop as Ruben didn’t feel like stopping and we got to the top of the Seward park hill right at 45 minutes. We stopped briefly to have a bite to eat and fix the speakers which kept coming off both our bikes. Erik came by right then with Matt T (they both work at Amazon, but apparently the wives know each other) and said “What, a flat already?” We got on our bikes and started to follow him. I noticed almost immediately that he had a flat. He commented that it was because he teased us and pulled over (Matt stuck with us and we figured Erik could catch up). Unfortunately Erik apparently and a bad spare and CO2 cartridge, so he took some time and eventually hooked up with Rich and Joanna.

The ride to the REI stop was really uneventful. The winds were fairly calm and there wasn’t that much traffic early in the morning. Happiness was the early day bonus of relatively clean restrooms and a pretty quick stop. Ruben and I shared an Odwalla and a peanut butter tortilla, and I had had some fruit. I also checked on the bruised area which was hurting but not getting any worse, so I decided it was ok to press on.

Between REI and the Puyallup hill we wound up with 2 folks on the tail of our pace line. She was a chatty woman – an engineer from Boeing. We lost her on the hill though as she was surprisingly slower than me on the hills. I passed a few people – maybe only 5. Ruben and Matt were waiting at the top, but not for too long. I didn’t stop at the top and they caught up. Ruben saying he passed 97 people (he was aiming for 100). Yes he counted.

Ruben at SpanawayRuben was really good about reminding me to eat at 45 minute intervals. I ate something as we were riding, but I don’t remember what – maybe more sharkies. Mitchel caught up with us on the way to the Spanaway stop and rode with us for a brief bit before catching up with his train of folks. I wanted to skip Spanaway and go to the Safeway that I recalled was just beyond the stop from last year. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember how far beyond the official stop it was (it’s only 3 blocks) and Ruben needed the restrooms. So we stopped to get food, water, and wait in the LONG lines for the port a potties. There was a “standing room only” port a potty for men, which prompted a discussion with the women about how the rest of the men would be going into the sit down ones and will make it smelly for the girls, but we had no solution to the problem as we can’t really stand like guys can. I saw Ruben’s old co-worker Jude in the line. He’s also working at Amazon now, and it appears he may be in the same area of Amazon as Matt (as we discovered much later at St. Helens in Oregon).

Lauren and the Rice Crispie treatThe food at Spanaway was at least good (Whole foods!) so that made up for it. This was one stop where they had Rice Crispie Treats but I couldn’t find any peanut butter to put on them. I had some fruit and took a packet of cookies to go. Still the next time I *will* go to the Safeway instead.

Our next section was non stop from Spanaway (at mile 53) to Tenino (at mile 85). I missed the start of the Yelm/Tenino trail, but Ruben and Matt hopped right on. I got on at the next entrance. This is where I started to feel the heat again. And once again I looked longingly at the really cool lake next to the trail and wondered “why can’t I stop and just go swimming.” Ruben said “that’s a different kind of ride, not the ride we’re on right now.” I know he’s right but that lake looked SO darn inviting.

We made Tenino in amazing time. It was only 10:30 am, and I think we had only been on the bike around 4.5 hours. This was amazing time in my book. The highlights were Ruben buying a diet coke (which tasted so damn good at the time) and a chocolate no bake cookie. But nicer was the “clean” bathrooms with a real toilet, real soap and real running water.

Matt and his "doppio"The last 15 miles to Centralia were also uneventful, except for my toe starting to fall asleep from cramping in my leg. Ruben saw a coffee hut on the way into town that had a frozen coffee drink. We tried to find another coffee place that was more on the way to town but eventually circled back to it. It was the “best frozen mocha ever.” Matt asked for a doppio but got a third frozen mocha because they don’t know what doppio means in Centralia. Ruben discovered his mocha could fit between his aerobars and once again thought the aerobars were the best father’s day gift ever. I carried mine in my left hand (which meant I couldn’t high 5 the kids waiting near the college), but I did ride through the spray of water the mocha in one hand. Someone took a picture, but I didn’t see it on Marathon photo. It was epic.

Lauren and Ruben in CentraliaWe headed through the college to the other side and the best part for me – getting to go to the 1 day rider stop! For me! I felt so special! It was also my best Century time ever – 5:50 ride time, 7 hours total time. I had this sudden vision of being in Portland by 7:30 or 8pm.

I went immediately to the first aid tent to ask about the bruise. They immediately gave me some ice and asked if I needed ibuprofen. There was a really nice nice MD there who was willing to go actually look at the horrible thing in a stall in the bathroom. She said that I had bled under the skin (as opposed to just bruising?), checked a couple of places, and then gave me the go ahead to go on if it wasn’t too painful. Liz and I touched base and I told her I was going on. I also sent a text to Erik and Rich who were staying in Centralia (at Great Wolf Lodge) to tell them I was going on.

I ate a 1/2 a sandwich (PBJ or turkey? I can’t recall but I think it was PB&J) while I iced my bruise and it did feel a lot better after that. While riding I took to sticking the ice in my shorts which helped my hip which was bugging me from squeezing the seat more than I normally do to avoid sitting down fully on the bruised parts. I also wound up in my aerobars a lot more, even following Ruben, which is NOT a smart thing to do, but was necessary especially the second half of the day.

We stayed in Centralia for about 1/2 an hour, and then had a fairly easy ride to and through Chahalis. As we were going across I-5 for the second time Ruben and I saw a dust devil of straw kick up right in our path and we both had to ride right through! I wound up with a piece of straw in my handlebars and I think something irritated my eye… it was a very weird experience to have the wind speed up like that as we rode through it.

Then things got hard. It was getting hot already and the headwinds picked up. To top it off we were getting to the hilly part of the ride. The hill from the valley up to Napavine was particularly hard for me. In fact I was passed by unicyclist on the uphill! I told the guys I needed break for food a the top of the hill and also because my leg cramped. I filled my water bottle and almost choked on the water I tried to drink out of the hose.

The EggOur next supposedly quick pit stop was in Winlock. The stop took a little longer because Matt and I wanted to reapply the chamois butt’r. On the line for the bathroom I saw guy-gal tandem team I had seen on many other Cascade rides and Ruben saw on RAMROD last year, but I still don’t remember their names. I begged some ice off the gas station folks and put the pack back on my hip in my shorts to keep the pain down and took more advil.

We skipped the stop in Vader and made quick work of the hill there. Ruben and Matt were not having to wait too long for me at the top of hills, but the heat was hard for me. My stomach was a little upset, but I continue to eat something, or at least drink my now warming Accelerade. I had to stop at Castle Rock to give my leg time to uncramp so my toe would stop hurting. I also got more ice, at a little more, and checked in with Liz who was already in St. Helens waiting for Brad and crew.

On one of the hills in the 7 miles between St. Helens and Lexington I started to think I really had a flat. It’s just that my legs were starting to really feel like I had nothing left to give. I didn’t quite understand as I was eating and I should have had enough energy not to bonk. But the 3 H’s (hills, headwinds and heat) were just getting to me. The irritation of the bruise and my toes weren’t helping either. Nor was the lack of sleep which was starting to hit me. We had been on the road for 11 hours.

We took a longer stop in Lexington and was able to recharged my GPS a bit. We saw Jude & his crowd resting as if they had been there for a little while already. I sat on the ice I had left from Castle rock but it was almost all melted and there was none at Lexington. I was really tired from lack of sleep the night before and just wanted to curl up in the shade. I saw Ruben laying on the bench and was jealous for his little shut eye.

After the 20 minute or so stop, we were back on the road through Longview and then Kelso. Near Kelso had some jerk scream “Pedal Mother f-ers” from his car as he passed going the other way. Nice.

The headwinds were pretty incessant at this point, although we had heard from someone else on the road that there was a tailwind on Route 30. I was hopeful, even as the horrid cross wind was blowing me sideways as I crossed in the single file line across the bridge in to Oregon (one day riders do not cross in waves as the 2 day riders do). I lamented that this year I didn’t have Ruben’s camera to take a picture.

Usually there is a lot of “found treasures” on the downhill side of the bridge – water bottles, rear lights, etc that have come off bikes as they go over the expansion joint. There’s not nearly as much even at the “tail end” of the 1 day riders as we were. It was nice not to have to avoid that stuff.

The tailwind for the first 10 miles to Goble on route 30 was GREAT. We really picked up speed AND the road was mostly in the shade by this time of day which really helped. At this point I was seriously craving a Diet coke to help settle my stomach, for the caffeine and probably for the salts in it. Worst was the light headed feeling I was getting as I was staring at Ruben or Matt’s wheel/chain. We arrived in Goble with my legs shaking.

There was no diet coke at Goble! I was really disappointed and the Gatorade was a really crappy alternative but I bought it anyway. I ate some cheddar/peanut butter crackers I found in my jersey that I had picked up in Lexington. y. I had salt crackers that i Had picked up along the way and some gatorade. There was “only” 40 miles left. We had made such great time in the first half of the day and the second half was just sheer exhaustion. I likened the ride at that point to working in the garden all day until I was completely exhausted and then still having to ride from my house to Redmond and back. What’s usually a *really* easy ride seemed so hard at that moment. However, as tapped out as I was, stubbornness won out and I knew I had to make it on my own.

Unfortunately the wind got a little squirrely again and our precious tail wind was no more. We did have another stop at St. Helens, where I ate some more pretzels and grapes. There wasn’t any popcorn which is what I was really craving. Because this is the stop where I usually love to have the oreos (and I was so sad when they were out last year), I force myself to eat one of the 2 oreo cookies I took. I threw the other one out because I knew I needed the salt more. I thought more about Diet Coke (there was none) and also the story of Silvia K having chicken soup on her Iron Man ride. Chicken soup sounded really good at that moment.

We also saw Jude and his crew again. I suspect they were arriving at the stops before us and leaving usually just before us. This time we left before they did.

Fortunately the road continued to be shady AND it was getting cooler! The lack of heat was allowing me to do better. And best of all, the wind mostly stopped and our pace picked up. Matt kept riding off faster than I could start, but we’d eventually catch up and joke that our “peloton” had caught him.

I had to stop at Scappoose to use the bathroom, which I should have done in St. Helens, but Ruben’s calculations were that we were going to get in right at 9 if we didn’t start to leave right away. Matt bought me a diet coke while there, and then we were off, with Matt in the lead. We passed Jude & co on the road – they had started out after us from St. Helens but didn’t stop at Scappoose. We caught up to Matt again (inside of Portland city limits, which is 10 miles from the finish) and he did a great job leading at the end, pulling at 21-22 mph. I don’t know if it was the salt or the sheer will just to be off the bike, but I was keeping up.

We finally peeled off route 30 and cheered! I did pretty well at attacking the bottom of the “last hill” at Montgomery park, but totally petered out at the top. Some guy pushed me for about 10 feet and I told him I loved him. He said I shouldn’t tell his wife.

Coming in at the end – near downtown – is much easier on the 1 day ride than the 2 day ride. There is a LOT less traffic and a lot fewer people. We saw folks from Portland dressed up for their Saturday “night ride.” I commented that there were no photographers on the bridge like there usually is for the 2 day ride. Ruben and wound up at the tail end of one group and slowed down enough so that we were the only people in the chute when we were. I turned on the blinky Tiara light and did the princess wave as I came in.

Somehow Ruben, Matt and I managed to catch up with Liz, Brad and Mitch at Andina for a fabulous dinner AND stayed awake until almost midnight. I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and the next thing I knew it was 9:30 am.

Day 2: We woke up at 9:30 and had breakfast with some friends before heading to the finish line. We found Mitchel and saw some riders coming in looking splotchy from rain drops. I overheard stories of lightning and hail and wondered if Linda, Rich, Joanna, Erik or Mark got hit with it. At one point I saw some my old Danskin in Training teammates (Brandi and Jennifer) arrive looking strong and fit. I never did see the other teammate – Sharon. Ruben and I waited with Mitchel to cheer Linda and Nadine (from Team in Training) come in. Ruben and I also waited for Joanna and Erik – who were told by Rich and Marc to go ahead without them as it had started to rain pretty hard and they were still 1-1.5 hours away. Rich and Marc came in around 5:15pm and Stephen and Kristina and their crew came in apparently around the same time. Most importantly – everyone was safe (albeit a little wet)!

Erik  Mitchel and Lauren   Joanna, Lauren and MK

I want to thank everyone for all the support, not just for doing the ride uninjured, but being my back up in case I needed an “out” from being hurt. An especial thanks to Ruben who really stuck with me even though I was so much slower than he normally goes. It meant a lot.

My first Cascade CATS ride

You know how some days you feel like you’re riding solo, going up hill, into the wind, and in drizzling rain on a flat tire?

Well guess what. Today I did. For 15 miles of 65 miles (stats).

I was so pleased with myself figuring out how to get in extra miles today. I had heard from Mitchel that there was going to be a change in plans for the Cascade CATS ride since he wasn’t going to be able to ride the (blue) 16-18 group for century much less 130 miles. He said likely a blue group was only doing 100. Since I did a century last week (and a hilly one at that), my plan was to bump up to a 130 mile ride as a max to “prove” I could knock out STP in a day. I was bummed until I figured out a plan that would get me a tiny bit more mileage.

I got up at 6:00, and was on the road at 6:42. I decided to ride up to Log Boom and back before the start of the ride. Well I had left a little later than my intended 6:30, so I had to cut it short by 1 mile at Lake Forest Park. I had done 1 extra hour of riding which felt fine.

I was back at Magnusson at 7:50 and saw Mitchel and signed in (and had 1/2 a Kashi go lean bar to eat). It was a much smaller group than RAMROD from two weeks ago, and much smaller than Cascades CTS rides (Green group = 14-16). I knew there was no way I could keep up with the Purple (18-20) group doing 130, so I stuck with the century. There was also a purple group doing the century, but that wasn’t happening either. There were only 2 other girls in the whole batch.

We left all as one big group, went through Windermere – and the first hill was steep. I was kind of at the back of the back and “happy” to hear one or two other people huffing and puffing up the hill AND that one of the other women was a little concerned if the ride was going to be that hilly about keeping up. Lemme tell you, I was *really* concerned. Particularly when I saw early on what the pace really is.

See I think of the blue group as 16-18. Meaning my 16.1. Apparently the ride leader thought it was closer to 18.5, because that’s where we were most of the times I looked down at my GPS. Even with my 1 hour warm up, I was dragging. And while the winds had been calm for me going to the top of the lake (thank goodness), as soon as the sun tried to peer out the wind picked up from the south at a good clip.

Let’s put it this way: I was working, I could feel it in my legs. I wondered if I would be able to finish the ride. What I figured is that if I could keep up with the group through until we were on the May Valley Road, I’d be good – I feel MUCH more comfortable riding a route I’ve done before. I had gone out to Flaming Geyser – so most of the ride down was ok. However, we weren’t going to Flaming Geyser. We were vering off and going to Black Diamond, then out to places I had never heard of: Cumberland, Palmer, Kanaskat and Ravensdale (although I have heard of this because of Erik’s racing). Here’s a map.

Our first stop was to be at Isacc Evans park down between Kent and Auburn – 32 miles into the ride (and 47 miles into my ride). Early in the ride (near Husky Stadium) one guy lost his bike rack, but the group kept on figuring he’d catch up. Then in Renton one guy slid out. He made an AMAZING recovery but his tire looked like it might have been out of tru or it was rubbing his brake pad. Everyone stopped for that one, and he was fine. I mostly kept up although there was once or twice I lost the end of the line – it wasn’t really a great paceline – very spurty, but then again they specifically said that this wasn’t a pace line ride – to give room. Still people were moderately drafting.

In Kent we wound up making a few left/right turns. In one turn – just near the King County court house, I thought I had slipped on something slippery – maybe because of the rain last night or because of the cross walks. Then a few blocks later the same thing happened. I looked down at First and Titus (about a block from a bakery none the less) and saw my tire was flat. So I told the group, they asked if I had everything (I did), and they went on.

I got a text from Ruben about that point – he was planning on taking Elias out to meet me at the bakery anyway. So this was perfect timing. I told him what happened and that I was changing my tire. He grabbed tires and the pump and started driving my way.

I spent a LONG time changing my tire and realized there was no way I’d catch up to the group at the park. I had a really hard time getting the new tire off – it’s one of those somewhat pricey foldable Vittoria, supposedly somewhat puncture resistant. However, we had gone over a lot of rocks and glass in the last few miles. Anyway, I couldn’t get my tire levers in enough to get out the tube. Finally I did. I could hear the leak but didn’t find it – it was too windy and noisy. So I just put on the new tube and stuffed the old tube in my bag to deal with later.

Product UN placement: DO NOT BUY Innova road tubes. They’re a piece of crap. I wound up buying a 10 pack of these from an on line retailer (I will tell you which if you ask, but I don’t feel like ragging on them in this post). Both Ruben and I have been getting a LOT more flats with them. But more than that, the stems just do not hold up to the bike pumps (both floor pumps and hand held pumps). They bend way too easily

Both the tube with the puncture AND the tire exchanged it with are Innova tubes. Crap. Crap crap. I got the new one on, pumped it up and the @)(*$*( stem got bent (this is the same type of tube/stem that blew out on Ruben on the RAMROD training ride). So the tire wouldn’t stay at 120 psi. It started to go flat again in a block. So I pumped again and this time I got the stem to kind of hold air. I didn’t put on the cap either – because I think that was causing it to push on the stem and lose more air.

So here I was thinking crap. Do I go on or do I have Ruben pick me up in Kent. I decided to at least make it the 4 miles to the park and use the facilities. I was right, no bike group there.

The tire was holding the little air it had at this point so I decided I could go an hour/15 miles and pressed on.

Little did I know it was hilly and into the wind. Then it started to drizzle. Which made it all feel worse. But slowly I pressed on – which slowly == approx 15mph. Which wasn’t bad considering it was about when I got the flat that we started climbing up 600 feet to Black Diamond. I did see one other rider from the group who was stuck with a flat in Auburn (under the overpass for route 18), but he had gear so I kept going.

I texted Ruben when I was about 7 miles away. About 3 miles away I got a text from him saying my group actually just showed up around 4 minutes prior. I suddenly thought “Oh I can catch them!” I wouldn’t keep going with them, but I could at least say I caught up, then fix my flat and turn back on the path I’m familiar with and go home. However that wasn’t to be. With about a mile to go I got REALLY hungry and my legs just wouldn’t press on much more. I could tell the bakery was devoid of all bikes (save one loan rider) when I got there. I was a bit bummed until I heard Elias’ voice from the car.

The other guy who was there had been on one of the rides, but was having an off day and decided to just go his own route on his own pace. Ruben had apparently seen both a RAMROD training group and my CATS blue group come by. He spoke with the CATS group, told them he was my husband (the one who go the flat in Kent), so they at least knew I was taken care of. He apparently gets the best husband/SAG wagon award from that group.

We decided to put the bike in the car and have lunch. It was 12:30… and I was really hungry so this sounded good. Plus the weather was looking like it was threatening to rain. I felt like a wimp because I had my wet weather gear with me. But I had done 65 miles, and I was concerned about the forecast for rain at 4pm. Plus mentally I just was done. I thought about going home and doing 2 more hours on the trainer, but opted to take Elias to the skate park instead. The irritating thing is that the a) the sun came out shortly after we got home at 1:30 AND b) the showers they promised late today never materialized.

Given that this was going to be my one big opportunity to get in over 100 miles in one day, I’m a bit concerned I won’t make it to Portland. Ruben and I have to figure out some kind of SAG support/back up plan of where we can stay or get picked up. I know I’ll need a light – I think I’ll start at 4:30-4:45 and I’ll probably get in around 9pm in Portland. If my legs will hold up that long.

Cookies to anyone who read this far!

STP 2008, half on a tandem.

I’m totally mourning lost data here. The data on my Garmin and in the Garmin Training center says 216 miles, Ascent: 4397, total BIKE time 15:51 hours. Average speed day 1: 12.5. Average speed 13.5mph overall (meaning we were probably averaging 15.5 day 2) and total calories burned on 2 days: 10461.

However, it appears that if you try to do something SO large and cumulative, you run out of memory on the device, so without telling you, it just drops old data – like the latitude and longitude. So according to Motion based: I’m missing about 50 miles! It only recorded from Spanaway to the end: missing “THE hill” in Puyallup.

Pictures are here

Ruben and I used twitter to keep track of where we were and when. Examples:

brickware frantically trying to get everything done and get to sleep early. 09:43 PM July 11, 2008

rubeneortega trying to do “one more thing” before going to sleep and riding STP tomorrow. 09:29 PM July 11, 2008 from web

Day 1: Amazingly got up just minutes before the alarm at 4 and started to dress after a restless night sleep. Ruben said he was up every 7 minutes all night. It’s still dark and we get into gear: Sunscreen, Chamois Butter, clothes (Pastry Powered Jersey and arm warmers, short pants). Amazingly we got Elias up and dressed. So Challenge Number 1 was tackled.

Challenge #2: Getting the cars all moved around and getting us down to the start line. Ruben left just after 4:30, Ericka and Tristan arrived shortly there after. Lupe woke up just to say goodbye and we were off. My skinny go fast bike was in the van, along with the rest of the gear. The only things I feel like I forgot (but weren’t critical) were a sleeping bag for Elias and some books on tape on an iPod for him.

rubeneortega Watching the first wave of riders roll out towards Portland 04:51 AM July 12, 2008

brickware Leaving home 04:52 AM July 12, 2008

1 cold mile down the hill we were at the starting line looking for Ruben by the espresso stand. He claims he looked for me, but left after they “Shut” the starting line at 5 (to start the waves). Anthony with Dylan showed up, then Joanna and Rich. Erik forgot his bib and had to go back – we knew he could catch up. We left on the next wave. I was feeling pretty good and chugged along with most of the group. Anthony said he was a little slower to start out, so he and Dylan were a bit behind.

Challenge #3: Getting up the hill in Seward Park. STEEP hill. LOWEST gear. Elias actually kicked in and helped. Made it up the steep part and just chugged along on the shallower park on Seward Park Drive. Just keep spinning just keep spinning. I couldn’t believe made it up there. The rest of the route was a matter of chugging along to REI. I was being passed by a LOT Of people though – that was hard to see. But I was maxing out at about 144 bpm at 14 mph or so on the flats. Erik caught up and passed us at this point. I got a text message when he got to the REI stop.

Elias was REALLY cold on this stretch – my first indication he wasn’t working that hard. He had his shirt, and a jacket. Then I pulled off my arm warmers (losing my livestrong bracelet in the process) and he put them on his arms over the jacket. He already had the other pair of arm warmers on his legs. Finally I had to stop so he could put my other jacket on.

rubeneortega 25 miles in at rei food stop downing superfood and thinkg. about 175 to go. 06:35 AM July 12, 2008

brickware At the REI food stop 07:29 AM July 12, 2008

REI was great – LOADS of food (we were early – Odwalla, peanut butter on whole wheat tortillas, oranges, bananas and clif bars) and the port a potties were relatively good still. I saw Brandy there! We also found Anthony and Dylan, took some pictures. Elias loved the volunteer T-shirts the REI folks were wearing: What happens on STP, stays on STP. Total Vegas themed stop. It was great. Elias started to warm up after kidding around with Dylan for a while. Onward:

My Grad school advisor (Steve Tanimoto) passed me on the next stretch along the Kent Valley. We chatted for a while. I told Elias what an advisor was – how he helped me get a PhD. I told Steve a few tips about what was to come, etc. Elias said that I was giving him a PhD in biking. Somewhere in here I also got passed by Scott Neilson, who had started over an hour later than us.

rubeneortega Flat tire repair. 9am is a fine time to start a 150 mile bike ride 09:01 AM July 12, 2008

brickware Puyallup 09:03 AM July 12, 2008

I texted the latter AS I WAS BIKING (bad cyclist) – hence the brevity. But if you note, I was NOT that far behind Ruben at this point. His flat happened 2/3 of the way UP the hill.

Challenge #4: The hill. I MADE IT UP THE HILL with Elias on the back of the tandem. My fear was having to get off and walk. I wanted to be able to do it and I did. WOOT!.

brickware Mile 44 and made it to the top of puyallup hill 09:33 AM July 12, 2008

We regrouped at the gas station at the top of the hill, and Elias and Dylan went off to the shop and bought some treats (ice cream and such). I couldn’t really eat much – Tristan finished the cone that Elias kindly bought for me.

I had forgotten Spanaway was 10 miles down the road and was bummed when I realized this. But we trudged on.

rubeneortega Mile 73, making up time, legs feel great. 10:10 AM July 12, 2008

Challenge #5: Seeing a head on collision and having to carry our bikes over broken glass etc. (I *think* this was before Spanaway). We think someone tried to pass a group of cyclists and hit someone else head on. Not a pretty sight. The big challenge for me was lifting the heavy tandem over the glass.

brickware Eating lunch in spanaway 10:58 AM July 12, 2008

Spanaway was good (at mile 50 ish): Grapes, Bagels, REALLY fantastic nectarines and vitamin water. Still in the wave of folks. Here I filled up my water bottles and noted Elias wasn’t drinking enough. I started nagging him about drinking and eating after that.

Elias was getting a LOT of attention from people who were passing him. They’d kid him about making sure he wasn’t doing all the work (being the stoker), or say “good job buddy!” or some such. When they did that, he’d actually kick in a bit more which was nice!

rubeneortega 85 miles. Glorious tailwind, hope it keeps up until portland 11:05 AM July 12, 2008

rubeneortega Creamsicle! 100 miles down 100 to go. 11:53 AM July 12, 2008

So obviously by this time the hills were getting to me and Ruben was really finding his legs. I got a text message from Erik that he had arrived in Centralia just after noon – just missing Ruben. So Erik basically did the 100 miles in 4:45. Amazing.

This was the year I was going to (finally) stop for the free chocolate milk in Roy – Wilcox dairy would always set up a chocolate milk stand. Well this year they closed their milk dairy and are focusing on eggs. So I didn’t see any chocolate milk. Oh well.

brickware Pit stop in McKenna 12:36 PM July 12, 2008

I always forget McKenna is an unofficial mini stop (aka, you have to pay for goodies) just before Yelm. We stopped, used the INDOOR toilets (long line), got advil for all those who needed it (including Dr. Advil, Rich – who was having problems with his right leg and me, who was having problems with my left toe pinching already). We took a couple of pictures by a tree. Onward:

Elias loved the fact that there was an “Unofficial mini stop” along the road where someone was spraying us with water. I don’t think we stopped in Yelm after all. We did, however note that both Elias and Dylan had just beaten their record 70 mile rides at this point.

rubeneortega Winlock. 120 miles 80 to go 01:41 PM July 12, 2008

rubeneortega Afternoon iced mocha and head under the faucett 01:54 PM July 12, 2008

The trail from Yelm to Tenino was really nice – slight up hill grade for a while, then down. . We started playing the game where someone in the front would call out “Marco!” and we’d all say “POLO” – to mark where the posts (or Poles) were in the middle of the trail. For a little bit I let Elias clip out and found (again) it was easier for a while to pedal without him – meaning he wasn’t working much. After a while I couldn’t keep up with the group, particularly since my toe was really hurting. One of the problems with the tandem is that you can’t really stop pedaling unless you get a good head of steam up first – our tandem looses speed very quickly. Occasionally we do this when we need “butt breaks” but that doesn’t help with the toe problem. I need new shoes for long rides.

Oh we also saw the two skateboarders on this stretch. I can’t believe they keep doing this ride. I didn’t see the unicyclist this year, although heard he was on the ride. I didn’t hear if the guy on the big wheel was there – I suspect not.

Getting weary from the ride, I noticed a couple of places where the river is right next to the trail. I lamented that I would love to stick my foot in there and cool it down – maybe get the swelling down so it wouldn’t hurt so much. But I didn’t want to hold up the group – and Elias was getting tired and just wanted to get to Tenino. (I did keep reminding him to eat and drink). Someday I’d like to go on a bike ride where there is no rush to get someplace and I could stop and stick my feet in the water. We caught up to the rest of the group at the end of the trail in Tenino. (somewhere in here Erik gave up waiting for us and went onto the hotel).

brickware Resting our toes and eating really awesome cookies in tenino 02:38 PM July 12, 2008

I remembered this from last year: whoever sponsors the Tenino mini stop makes cookies. I filled up 3 water bottles (so we were drinking- I’m not sure if it was enough though). I got 3 cookies, gave a donation and gave one or two to Elias. We chowed them down and he had chocolate all over his face. He and Dylan played like mad (again). It was weird to let Elias wander around a bit on his own – I kept thinking he’d get lost but he just kept coming back.

Tenino is the last stop at mile 86 before Centralia at mile 98.85. We started back on our way at 2:56, I got the Centralia at 3:50. Meanwhile

rubeneortega Castle Rock. 60 miles to go 03:09 PM July 12, 2008
rubeneortega Lexington. 55 miles to portland 03:57 PM July 12, 2008
rubeneortega Best tortilla hummus sandwich ever 03:57 PM July 12, 2008

brickware In centralia eating the two best creamsicles ever. (Actually posted at 4:03 pm – twitter has the time wrong).

I had been telling Elias about the mister and the creamsicles. Then we saw the Centralia sign. That gave him a boost. Then we saw Lupe waiting on a corner and called to her. Then we went under the misters… OH DID THAT FEEL GOOD. I was so happy – Elias had made 100 miles (if you include the 1 mile down hill to get to the starting line). I had 2 creamsicles, Elias had 1 and immediately started playing his gameboy which I had lugged in the pack. Dylan looked on. Ericka was grinning ear to ear- no crashes! Rich’s leg had made it. Joanna – who had only trained up to a 40 mile ride was all smiles. Tristan – quiet, but also all smiles.

We did some coordinating: Tristan’s folks came to take him up to Olympia for the night. Anthony and Dylan rode 1 more mile down the road to their hotel. The rest of us went to my car, where Joanna, Lupe and Elias hopped in, and I switched bikes. Joanna wanted to get up to see the kids at the hotel and give the babysitter a break. Rich, Ericka and I rode the 6+ miles to the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound.

I got on my skinny go fast bike and I couldn’t control it! It was too light! I wiggled all around and couldn’t help but take off! The route along old highway 99 was nice – a headwind, but a large shoulder and not too many cars. The legs suddenly felt strong! However we did hit a patch of glass. Rich said “I’m stopping to check my tires!!!!” I was thinking “oh foo, I don’t need to, I have puncture resistant tires and haven’t gotten a flat yet!” But I stopped – because Ericka HAD gotten a flat by going over glass on one of our rides. Lo and behold, of the three of us, I had a small shard of glass wedged in my tire. Rich claimed that was a flat in 5 miles. Ericka had a great pair of tweezers (tiny! – I have to get one for each bike now!) and I got the glass out. So yeah! for Rich and Ericka.

brickware At great wolf lodge in grand mound where the air conditioning alone is worth the cost (posted out of order, actual time 5:52pm)

rubeneortega 175 miles done, 25 to go. Portland at 91 degrees looks good. Should I have this much salt on clothes and skin? 06:34 PM July 12, 2008

brickware Great wolf lodge is surreal. After a not so bad buffet, now I’m going in an indoor water park wit elias 08:10 PM July 12, 2008

Then I got this!

rubeneortega 205 miles. Moving average 18.5 welcome to Portland 08:30 PM July 12, 2008

It was right about what he expected! After a shower and a nap, he also go to see/hear the last 1 day rider come in around 12:30 am and that Portland was having some kind of Night Ride (15 mile ride at dark).

All the families went to dinner at the buffet. Ericka and Lupe found a quieter bar to eat in … I think I would have to under their circumstances. Anthony and his family (who had come up to the lodge to pick up our tandem and have dinner with us) left around 7:15. Ericka and Lupe went to bed early. I picked up some food at a cafe (banana bread, a croissant and a banana) and got into bed. Sleep was a little hard to come by, and getting up at 5 was a bit hard. We were out the door at 5:45 – Elias never stirred. He slept until 9am, had breakfast and played with Lupe at the water park.

I missed posting about our leaving with Ericka and Rich, but according to the GPS it was at 6:05 from the hotel. We hooked right back up with the ride route (gathering other cyclists along the way). Joanna had left MUCH earlier and we knew Erik would have a chance to sleep in and catch up. We met Anthony at his hotel. Tristan’s dad dropped Tristan off there and we left around 6:50 am. I texted this while cycling

brickware Leaving chahalis 07:11 AM July 13, 2008

The small breakfast I had started to catch up with me and I was very hungry by the first of the rollers, just north of Napavine. The first hill of the day is just north of Napavine and as we’re chugging up the hill we see this one guy go by, then eventually another girl barely calling out “Dad!??!?!” He screamed back holding his hand to his ear “Speak to me” but kept going. She pulled to the shoulder and had to stop. Someone else on the hill called to “Dad” to tell him that his daughter had stopped. Eventually someone (Anthony?) called out the color of his shirt and told him that his daughter was having real trouble and was by the side of the road. FINALLY he went back for her.

brickware Napavine and free banana bread. riding with Tristan, anthony , rich and ericka. Joanna leftearly, erik is leaving late and will catch up 07:47 AM July 13, 2008

I put $5 in the pot for the school who was doing the fundraiser and bought some REALLY good banana bread for us. Onto Winlock! This part of the ride is BEAUTIFUL…

On this part of the ride we saw “Dad” changing a flat tire with his daughter. They had apparently not stopped at Napavine and leapfrogged us. Karma is a bitch.

I think this was where we saw the first Mile marker that said mile 1 on it. Rich commented something about Ground Hog day and that we’d keep seeing Mile Markers with a 1 on them….

I saw this one rider from behind and guessed it was an old employee Adrianne – and I was right! We said our hellos in Winlock – apparently her husband was up ahead someplace, he a racer now and she just goes at her own pace. The did RSVP last year, but I had seen her on STP two years ago.

brickware Taking a picture by the world largest egg 09:45 AM July 13, 2008

I never told Ericka or Tristan about the Hill We Don’t Talk About – in Vader. That’s the hill the first year on the ride that I yelled at Rich and Joanna – “YOU DIDN’T TELL ME ABOUT THIS HILL!” It’s the secret hill.

But Ericka powered up it and we turned onto the next road: West Side Highway – and there it was… another Mile marker that said ‘1’. I almost died!

I got a text message from Mary Kaye (Erik’s wife) that Erik was leaving around 9:45, his phone was dead, but he expected to be in Scapoose at 1:30. Anthony did the math and thought we could get there averaging 15mph with a few breaks.

brickware Last post not sent at right time. Just did another 17 and having. Great smoothie at castle rock. Rollers as bad as last year 09:46 AM July 13, 2008 from txt

What I meant was “Rollers NOT as bad as last year” – First off I was better trained for hills having ridden to work all winter long. Secondly, I wasn’t trying to do 150 miles in one day. This was only mile 25 or so for the day – as opposed to 120! I think we stayed too long in Castle Rock though, particularly since the next stop was an official one with free food. But here my toe was really starting to hurt – I could do about 1/2 an hour of riding without pain, but then the numbness or pain would start…

brickware 10:30 at the free food stop in Lexington. Next stop Longview bridge 10:34 AM July 13, 2008

The bummer here was by this time I think we were behind the big wave of folks. Not sure why – I thought we were making good time. Average speeds were MUCH higher than day 1. We had our free food, but no oreos. I was bummed, but hopeful for my sandwich cookies in St. Helens.I got this from Ruben the show off 😉

rubeneortega Eating at Crush and trying not toinhale the food. I am not biking today. 10:35 AM July 13, 2008

I shouldn’t be so callous. He was being very supportive in private emails.

Lexington was also where we saw the guy on the really tall bike with the viking helmet. We passed him a few miles down the road on route 30…

We were off again and did the flat part through the industrial towns of Kelso and Longview.

brickware Got stopped at the front of the line for the longview bridge. Oregon in 1 mile 11:46 AM July 13, 2008

Anthony was funny here. We got caught by the light just before our left turn to the bridge. He could see we were not going to make the current wave of riders going over the bridge – and said he wasn’t going to be stopped. He blasted RIGHT through the flagger, but Ericka, Tristan, Rich and I didn’t feel comfortable doing that. We were the first in line for the next wave. It took them at least 15 minutes (probably longer) in the hot sun to let us go.

I tried SO hard to power up the bridge, but by this time I was getting tired. And hot. I was drinking and eating but I had no reserves. AT first I was hoping to be one of the first across, then a whole bunch of guys passed me. Then I hoped to be the first girl across. Nope, 2 girls passed me. Eh, I was still pretty close to the front. I didn’t see nearly as many bottles ont he sides of the road near the expansion joints as last year. I pulled off at the bottom and took pictures of my other fellow weary travelers.

brickware Rainier oregon 12:16 PM July 13, 2008

rubeneortega Getting a haurcut 01:15 PM July 13, 2008

Passed Rainier it started to get really hot and I was really starting to lose steam. After passing Rich and Ericka who had leap frogged me on the bridge, I tried catching up with Tristan – I felt a little like I kind of had to keep an eye out for him (since he’s 16). I’m pushing and pushing and still getting passed, no Tristan. I stopped briefly at Goble just to see if I could see Anthony, Joanna or Tristan, but no. I didn’t want to wait in the long water line – I figured I could get some down the road and headed off. Suddenly Tristan rides up next to me panting and says “I Caught you!”

I laughed and said that I was trying to catch him! Apparently he had stopped at the side of the road, I hadn’t seen him. Ericka and Rich told him I was going on to look for him so he tried to catch up. It was funny – like two years ago when Ruben though I was ahead of him and was catching up only to find I was way behind. Trudging on:

brickware Stopped in St. Helens where they have run out of Oreos. I am truly bummed.

Truly bummed. Particularly since I thought Anthony was probably already in Scapoose. I saw a message on the board from Joanna that she left St. Helens at 1pm… so we just sat and ate the popcorn and somehow lame sandwiches.

(Slow and steady undertrained Joanna does get the moral victory for beating all of us to Scapoose!)

Then I got the call from Anthony. He skipped the stop and found a cafe that had frozen yogurt. He had only gotten there a few minutes before! Apparently he had stopped a couple of places to get some food along the way, but said we must have been making some good time.

Still, it was already almost 2 and I thought Joanna and Erik were probably bored in Scapoose – not the nicest of rest stops.

We did get in touch with Rich and Ericka and had them come to us at the shop. SO MUCH NICER to have porcelain toilets! And espresso! over vanilla frozen yogurt! Ahhh!

brickware Found a most excellent air conditioned cafe near a bookstore in st helens. Having frozen yogurt with a shot of espresso. Mmmmmmm 02:06 PM July 13, 2008

Coordinating we estimated we’d bet at the finish around 3-4. We were off by a quite a bit.

brickware Over heating in Scapoose. 90+ degree heat on the open road 03:25 PM July 13, 2008

I started to feel really gross on this last section – very very little shade and it was over 90 degrees. Water bottles that we filled at the cafe with ice water were hot within 1/2 an hour. My toe was killing me. Even Anthony said he was feeling a bit puny. Was it the dairy? Or just the heat? I hate this section of the ride. The cars were well behaved though. I didn’t, however, find my really good chains of drafters like last year. Tristan and I took turns riding front just to keep going. I told him all about aerobic heart rates and VO2 max, and power output. He still doesn’t believe that true racers don’t really sit on their seats much.

rubeneortega Waiting at the finish line, cheering the bikers 03:03 PM July 13, 2008

Erik had arrived about 10 minutes before us. After taking our requisite pictures and regrouping, Joanna took off about 10 minutes before the rest of us. One high schooler was taking donations to be sprayed with a water hose from their yard. Best $2. spent.

No respite from the hot weather, Tristan and I tried to keep up with Anthony and Erik who took off. More hot weather, the water bottles getting really hot and hard to drink (particularly the ucky electrolytes). I warned Tristan about the “Rookie hill” – the last really big hill of the ride. We made it up, and I figured Rich would warn Ericka.

brickware At the top of the last hill 04:52 PM July 13, 2008

When Ericka and Rich showed up, she said she was very glad Rich had warned her and I had never mentioned that hill before she got there. More requisite pictures.

Anthony had to leave at this point to catch the Max to his friend’s house out in Hillsboro. He had another 15 miles from the end of the Max line to his friend’s house. Amazing.

We made it to the line at 5pm (although I posted this later).

brickware Made of in to the finish line with Rich, Joanna, Tristan, Erik, and Ericka. (Anthony had to leave early) 06:41 PM July 13, 2008

brickware We got in at 5, and now had a really fantastic shower! 06:42 PM July 13, 2008

I saw Elias, Ruben and Lupe with a sign made by Maryanne! (She had to leave early). Elias and Ruben were decked out in their Pastry Powered shirts, Tristan’s folks saw us too. We hung out in the finishing area for a while, I got my requisite SWAG (including a Whole Foods green bag), then Rich, Joanna, Erik and the babysitter had to head back north to the Great Wolf Lodge and their kids. Ericka and Shel went to their room, and we went to ours so I could shower. Tristan’s family had to leave (work in the morning adn we had gotten in later than expected) – so I think he showered in the STP shower van.

I totally started to fade on the walk to dinner. I told Ruben later that this was one of the hardest things physically I have ever done – harder than STP the first year, harder than my triathalon, etc. Dinner was at a nice Italian restaurant, and I even treated myself to a mojito. I totally passed out exhausted around 9:30… only to wake up at 5 to head back to Seattle.

One more Elias-ism. On the way home I was explaining how I saw a heavy set older woman who had just finished the ride. She was bawling her eyes out – obviously overwhelmed with exhaustion and emotion. Elias said “It’s like Dr. Pepper” – Ruben and I are completely confused and he continues “Dr. Pepper has 23 flavors.”

Makes total sense to me. 23 flavors. 23 emotions. Damn smart kid.

I got home and noticed my milk box on the front porch had moved. I was curious, because Tuesday (not Monday) is milk day. Elias found them first: a secret someone had left a package of Oreos with a note on the package but no name! So thank you to whoever that was (probably someone reading facebook or twitter ;)). So there’s where the Oreos come from if you have read this far!

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!

DSCN1673.JPG

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:

DSCN1681.JPG

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!

Reflections on One Day STP

5:25 AM, I left with a pack of riders for my third STP, sporting the ever popular Pastry Powered jersey. About 13 and a half hours later, I pulled into Portland, exhausted but triumphant. 204 miles, 18.8 MPH average moving time, 10,000 Calories burned, 1 broken spoke. The day started early, and I found myself in a paceline towed by some BBTC riders and then by some Byrne folks. In both cases, the team was rotating in the front, leaving the bandits like me behind to sit in. While I know what I’m doing, I wasn’t sporting my Wines jersey but my PPTM colors, so no reason for them to know that I knew what to do. And hey, I’ve got 160 miles to go or so…. no problem sitting in for me!

The morning progressed without much event until near Centralia, when I broke a spoke. Fortunately, I was able to make reasonable time and get into Centralia, where the fine folks from Gregg’s got me a new spoke and trued the wheel for the everyday low price of two PB&Js — turns out they hadn’t had any time to get some food for dealing with all the riders pulling in!

The afternoon I went a bit slower. Pacelines were a bit harder to find, so there was a decent amount of solo riding. This was fine, as I could keep to a good heart rate and still push the gears and hit about 20 MPH pretty easily. About mile 125 or so, I started to feel it — I had only done one century so far this year (Flying Wheels), and while I had nearly twice the miles under my belt this year as last year, it was lots of 40 and 60 mile rides and 3 hour races. So about hour 7 or so, the legs started to hurt. Badly.

I ran into another Wines teammate in Castle Rock and rode with him for a bit, and then at St. Helens ran into a guy I worked with at Real. We rode together with another co-worker of his, until I caught a paceline he was unable to. However, a few miles to the end after the paceline had disintegrated he caught up to me with another group, and we all rode in together — exhausted, but exhilerated!

STP 1 Day HRMHere’s my HRM… fairly consistant heart rate and speed, which is good.

I was talking to another 1-day rider who left at 4:45… apparently, leaving earlier means you’re on some bigger, and faster, pacelines. Apparently he found one that was led by a well organized, rotating paceline with two riders acting as sweep, preventing anyone from entering the group — but also allowing everyone to sit in and enjoy the pace between 23 and 25 MPH. He made it down in under 10 hours, if I recall properly.

All in all, a good experience… although we’ll have to see if next year I try for 1 day again, or just put a big pastry cart on the Bianchi and do more of a fun ride!

STP Recap: GPS Stages of Grief and Irony

2007 MB STP LaMarcaDenial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. We hit them all (and decided to add the 6th stage which often occurs in breakups: Revenge) as we mourned our lost GPS data.

Overall I have to say it was a very very very good STP for team Pastry Powered. None of us got injured (although the sad hit and run – Greg/Ebeth – I heard it might have been a .83 guy?), and I only heard about Anthony’s flat just outside Scapoose, OR.

Leaving at 5:30 is WAY different from leaving at 6:30. First, you’re at the tail end of the “bell shaped curve” for the 1 day riders. Most of those who leave that “late” are actually fast one day riders, and hooking onto one of their pace lines is hard. But you’re at the front end of the two day riders. This became VERY apparent as we went passed Centralia.

Erik STP SunriseOne bonus of leaving early – you get to see a gorgeous sun rise over Lake Washington as you head south on Lake Washington Blvd. AND you actually can find good food at the REI and Spanaway rest stops, and the other rest stops aren’t nearly as crowded and (at least the first stop) the port a potties are less “used.” And you beat more of the heat. All in all – worth getting up for an earlier start.

Joanna and Linda left very early – Linda even before the 1 day riders. Joanna bypassed the start. The rest of us met up by the espresso stand around 5:15 and kept an eye out for Erik – who apparently left around 5:25. I guess there were so many people we missed him (or maybe because we were looking for a pastry powered jersey). Looking at what GPS data I have, we left in the 5:35 wave.

One huge negative – the Dan Henrys (the signs on the ground) where INCREDIBLY hard to see as they used eco-friendly red paint which didn’t show up well on the black pavement, and I think it wore off since last weekend. It made it hard to find the route until we hit Oregon (I think the Portland club marks the route down there).

We saw our first injury just as we got on the University bridge – not sure what happened (it has just happened), but reading the cascade bulletin boards – she was apparently being taken away on a backboard later. :(

We bypassed the Seward Park stop, and made good work of the hill there. I saw the unicycle on Rainier Ave. I never did see the skateboarder, but I heard rumors he made it.

At some point down in Tukwila a chain of very fast riders passed us – and I could just tell Ruben wanted SO bad to pace them! So I told him “but it’s PRETTY – go follow them and I’ll see you at REI” and with a bit more convincing (good husband), he was off. That became one of our code words on the ride: “oooh pretty” meant a nice pace line to follow…

We stopped at REI which had yummy tortillas with peanut butter, fruit and small Odwallas – very helpful for me who was having a lot of tummy upset from some antibiotics I was taking. Ugh. I didn’t want to eat. That made it harder later in the day when I was just simply running out of energy.

Not a lot to say about the next stretch, including the “Hill” – which quite frankly I did better this year than last. I actually managed to pass a few people!

At the top of the hill, Ruben discovered his GPS wasn’t recording since REI. At first there was Denial – “NO I DIDN’T HIT THE BUTTON.” Then there was Anger – he got pissed off that his tech got screwed up… Bargaining – “I’ll go back and re-ride that part of the route, anything, just to get the data” (and yes, Ruben thought about it). Depression – not much more to say there, and … well I’m not sure he’s accepted it yet. Ruben said there’s one more stage if you’re breaking up with someone – Revenge. So they started thinking about ways to get revenge on the tech. I believe Anthony came up with the best: “I’m going to turn you on and put you in a box with the LID CLOSED!!!” I was laughing so hard I was crying.

Erik and Joanna at STP - REIBy Spanaway, it was starting to get warmer and the group fragmented a little bit. We still hadn’t caught Joanna (who apparently did see Erik at the REI stop around 7am)… Ruben, Anthony and I left Spanaway first… then Greg, Elizabeth and Rich did a bit later. Ruben spotted Joanna in the line for the port a potties in Yelm, which is at mile 72.

The Tenino trail was nicer this year than last – hotter, but fewer people trying to do side by side lines on those squeezed in small bridges. Anthony had left yelm a bit before us, Ruben and I stuck together and took turns out in front up.

By the time I got into Centralia (the century mark), I was sick of “non food nutrition” – I could not get myself to eat another sportsbean or drink more Accelerade – my usual nutrition of choice on long rides. I needed a latte and a turkey sandwich, which we found at the student center in Centralia. (They were also showing the Tour De France in there. )

Oh let’s not forget the creamsicles – I think Anthony had 3. Joanna was the next to arrive, all Smiles! She knew she was done – well given she only had ridden 150? miles for her own training this season – making a century on the first day was really impressive. Elizabeth and Greg must have followed shortly after, but we didn’t see them – they found a spot on the other side of the “compound” but we eventually all got back together in one place. Then Rich came in.

We got a chance to all touch base and meet up with our heroine Joan. Someone was giving out packets of the Anti-Chafe cream (it was also in our packets from the packet pick up)… so I ran to the bathroom and lathered up. I figured I had used the Chamois Butter in the morning and it was probably all worn off, so I might as well. Now you know how they say you should never try something new on “race day?” – I have never felt this more than 20 miles down the road. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Anthony left first, Ruben and I left like 15-20 minutes after him. Megan thinks she saw one loan Pastry Powered shirt on the overpass – I think that was Anthony. Elizabeth and Greg also left, Joanna and Rich got a ride to Kelso and Joanna sacked out in blissful sleep.

I was dog slow those next 20 or so miles, even drafting Ruben (who 25 lbs lighter is much less of a wind-break if I must say so). The cross and head winds were just killing me, even though it’s largely flat all the way past Chahalis. At mile 120 I suddenly felt like I had a blister that had popped right where my leg meets my butt cheek. It was so painful I had to ride sideways a bit. I realized it was that (@)*#$ Anti-Chafe cream- which I would recommend no one uses. I think the Tea Tree oil in it is an irritant.

I did find some mole skin in my first aid kit (not just the ouch pouch – I got a new one from REI- small and well stocked). I was able to use that on one side (both sides were hurting at that point). We blasted through Napavine. I think that’s where I noted the Napavine Jail (1913-1935 – right on the train track to stuff the criminals on the train). At Winlock we stopped for more water and to see if the volunteer Gold Wing riders had any more mole skin (nope). It was really HOT and humid, and we did feel some drizzle as we left. I took a picture of the espresso stand we tried to get espresso from last year, but forgot to get a picture of the egg! That’s 2 years in a row I’ve missed that damn egg. (Who knows how I can miss the world’s largest egg.)

We stopped at the Vader store and I put the mole skin I had on my butt. We also ate a really yummy chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich. Ruben ate an Egg. That just sounded nasty. But I have to give kudos to the Vader store for having a misting thing up… that felt awesome.

Somewhere in there a really really sweet family had a lemonade stand set up – REALLY refreshing lemonade and water… Oh it really really really really (did I say really?) helped. Kudos to those guys.

Ruben with OarWe made it up and down the rolling hills – my legs were sore, but still functioning – in fact since it was cooling down I was doing much better. Ruben was still as strong as ever. I caught Ruben and his secret of how to get up hills – he found an Oar on the road – a truck pulling a boat had just recently gone by. We had heard it bouncing around. A few blocks later he found the oar in the road. I figure that’s his secret of how he gets up hills.

We did one more stop in Castle Rock at 5:30 – they were just about to close down the stop. The Lexington stop was closed by the time we got there. Ruben and I made it into Kelso and the hotel around 6:30 that evening. I don’t know what time Linda made it in, but it was before us (starting early and taking no stops was her strategy). Anthony was probably there 30-45 minutes before us). He had powered his GPS with a nifty battery powered charger once it got down to 1/4 of his battery power left. I found that my GPS unit made it all the way to Kelso – all 13 hours and didn’t run out of battery. I think that’s the longest it’s ever gone.

I should also mention one other person: Ruben’s friend/co-worker Scott wound up riding with his friend Sally. They were also staying in Kelso. When we arrived in Kelso the front desk at the Red Lion first surprised me by saying that they had overbooked – I thought they were going to tell me I didn’t have a room. On the contrary, they upgraded us to a suite. Ruben had already invited Scott to shower our shower, so we invited Scott to share floor space… and he joined us for dinner.

We washed off the salt and jumped into the pool, then met everyone for dinner at Azteca. Ruben and I went on a walk afterwards to find more moleskin for my poor butt for the morning.

Elizabeth and Greg got picked up in Castle Rock – it was just getting a little dark and given the headwinds Ruben and I were hitting, they made the right decision.

I think we all slept like a rock.

In the morning Joan drove Elizabeth and Greg back to Castle Rock to get the good breakfast grub and continue on their journey. Rich and Joanna left from Kelso around 9:30. Linda left much earlier apparently, we saw her at the finish line alllll cleaned up. We had our crappy breakfast at the Red Lion hotel (Rich and Joanna’s choice of Shari’s would have been better, we decided the only thing the scone (pastry) would power would be a gas powered car – it had to be a petroleum by product).

Anthony, Ruben and I left close to 10am… We stood out in front of the Red Lion acquiring signal with our GPS units. Anthony had re-set his GPS back to 0 (the other data saved in memory), and I told him “it’s all one ride!” His comment “two days, 2 rides”. Ruben… well his GPS once again crapped out on him by not charging the battery the night before. More of the 6 stages of grief ensued, but acceptance came quicker this time.

I bumped into one of my softball cohorts on the approach to the Longview Bridge into Oregon. I didn’t even know he was riding. He’s a group health “medic” on the ride. His first ride – he was all smiles.

The Longview bridge was uneventful, save for the plethora of water bottles on the expansion joint on the downward slope. Anthony, the king of found treasure, had a field day. He missed the walky talky that dropped off of someone though.

Route 30 was hot, noisy and windy – as always. Worse this year was that we had a headwind. I don’t know which is worse: a tail wind when it’s sunny and hot, or cloudy weather that’s cooler but with a headwind. This was the worst of both – a headwind and 80 degree cloudy weather.

At Goble we heard rumors of the hit and run accident further up the road. There was some talk that the road was closed for a while but that cyclists could get through. I didn’t know much more than a cyclist was hit. Later we found out the cyclist was hit by a guy who had once been convicted of murder, it was a DUI (at 9:20 am?!?!?!?), I hope they throw the book at him. I’m pretty damn steamed. (There was also talk on the cascade site about a guy in a white truck in Vader backing out of his driveway recklessly and hitting cyclists. Very nice considering it’s the one time of year Vader gets any amount of tourism. )

Anthony kept to his own pace, the wise man that he is, Ruben and I kept finding pretty drafting lines and I pushed myself a bit harder than I should have. In the end it was fine, but I think I’m more sore than I would have been had I held back. We passed Rich and Joanna at one point.

We stopped at St. Helens and I jammed on the cookies there. Rich and Joanna showed up next (NOT missing it this year like they did last year). Erik sent me a text message to look out for him and yet when Ruben and I took off, I thought to look for him AFTER he had passed us. Suddenly he came up from behind and said “HEY Great Jerseys” or something like that.

Apparently he had passed by Anthony near Scapoose, he was changing a flat but was in the ditch. Given the noise was so bad on 30, Erik couldn’t hear Anthony call to him.

Bat WomanWe all connected back up at Scapoose where we got a very long rest. Check out the pictures of Ruben and Anthony! Rich bought a Creamsicle. Oh here’s where we saw the “Bat Woman” – it was a woman dressed in black lycra pants, and black tank top, with OBVIOUSLY manufactured breasts practically falling out of the top. She had tatoos on her back. I think Anthony came up with the term “Bat Woman.” I actually managed to snap a shot of her when I was trying to get Rich coming into the rest area – here’s the shot:

This also prompted the discussion about other folks we’ve seen on various rides, including one woman on a couple of cascade rides completely decked out with scary Hello Kitty paraphernalia.

Joanna took off and Anthony asked if we’d regroup once more. I told him that I KNOW Joanna will wait for us – it was her idea to cross together in the first place last year.

Ruben stuck with me through most of the trip, even though he could have ridden MUCH faster. One of the other running themes between us was every time a rider would pass him, he’d say so only I could hear – “I could take him”… This would happen over and over “I could take him,” “I could take HIM” etc. At one point on the trail, a guy passed us and Ruben said under his breath “I can’t take him.”

Once in Portland, there was this train paralleling our route. The train was going pretty slowly – maybe 20 mph… probably waiting for a track to change. So I told Ruben… “You could take that” – and Ruben did. He raced the train and managed to “beat it” … Then the conductor slowed the train down and started waving – he got a wave from both Ruben and from me. Then he sped up and took off.

Other than that, the last 14 or so miles were pretty uneventful, until the last major HILL – very short, very steep and very very very annoying. There at the top was Joanna, waiting patiently for all of us to meet up with her. I put Maltby at the front of my bike at this point, so he could ride in with us.

Group Shot

The rest of the ride was pretty annoyingly slow because the BULK of the 2 day riders arrived at the same time.

Still, they announced a few of our names (including Rich – and they butchered the pronunciation of Chappaquah)…

Joan, Paul, Megan and Josh were all RIGHT on the corner smiling and waving to us. Linda and Mitchel joined us in the recovery area for a bit, we got our requisite swag (Whole Food Green Bags!!! WOOT!), and headed over to Eric Koldingers for a quick shower. (Most of us rode our bikes there – Greg was kind enough to drive the van – I think Joan had had enough of the behemoth after 2 days in it :)) After that we had a great dinner at the New Old Lompoc, where I was fully embarrassed by the generosity of my fellow riders – thank you all – I will be silk screening stuff for all of you with the gift card!!!!

When we got home it was my turn to go through the stages of grief. I uploaded my GPS data only to find it lost 22 miles of mapping data from the beginning of the ride! I am still not to acceptance yet. I am still thinking revenge.

ARGGGGHHH!!!!!!!

The final tally did say between 15.4-15.6 mph average which is slower by a bit than last year (I did 15.7). However, I met my own personal challenge of making 150 miles in a day – a huge feat given that I had only trained to really make 120 or 130. Next time I will train for further distances and think “it’s only 50 miles more?!??!?!” Training for 100, vs training for 150 IS different. We trained for 100 each day.
Anyway, lesson learned.

I have to once again than Joan, Paul, Megan and Josh for helping to ferry us and our stuff. I have to thank Eric and Kirsten for letting us crash and trash their place and shower in real porcelain. And I have to thank Linda for her fore thought to book extra rooms in Kelso!

Next year?

P.S. Scott did the STPTS – he biked home from Portland on Monday. I heard from Ruben he did it in just over 11 hours? Amazing.