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.

RSVP 2009

First, of course, the data from Day 1 and Day 2. Photos are here.

Ruben and set out at 6:25 and climbed up and over 65th just like last year. Friday morning was threatening rain, so we were dressed in pretty wet weather gear for a summer ride. We opted not to use the same Sherpa Service as last year as we figured out the Best Western is just 2 blocks from the Rodeway Inn in Bellingham. We got on the road around 6:50 in the morning.

We rode without stopping the full 28 miles until we hit Snohomish and had coffee, biscotti and a bran muffin. The only thing of note here was my realizing it was a Friday not Saturday as the construction work on Lake City way was going on and I saw a few commuters. The trail north of Snohomish was pretty much empty except for us riders. We had a quick stop in Lake Stevens to get some more road food, and use the sanicans, which because we were early in the ride were still clean. Gotta love that.

We opted not to stop in Arlington as we did last year, and continued on to Mt. Vernon. We hit some rain just to the east of Mt. Vernon for about 15 minutes – it was hard enough that I had to stop and put my electronics into baggies which we had remembered to bring.

The Mt. Vernon stop was practically empty and I was just starving at this point. Fortunately it was only sprinkling. I ate a half a bagel with PB&J, and tons of fruit and grabbed some crackers. I could have even eaten more, but we decided to move on and to find a coffee shop (out of the potential rain) or eat lunch in Bow. The route, however, doesn’t really go past any shops at this point. I did see an espresso place in Avon (small town to the West of Mt. Vernon), but we didn’t stop…

We were really lucky this year – the rainy weather brought us a tail wind through the Skagit Flats. There was a small stop at Bow, but it was 1:15, we had 20 miles left, we were hungry and I had heard good things about the Rhododendron Cafe. So we stopped and actually had a lunch. Two other cyclists were there with us, but they had cycled down from Bellingham just for lunch. The quote from them was “those guys have numbers, like they’re in jail”… Still they sat and watched riders go by for a while after they were done eating.

Service was a little slow, but the food was tasty… and the berry cobbler was quite good. We got back on the road around 2:30 and started the climb up Chuckanut drive. This year I could totally climb the hills and appreciate it – not feeling the constant pain of the hamstring tear. Our next stop was at Rocket Donuts in Bellingham about an hour later, and then onto the Best Western to pick up our bags and our hotel for some much needed clean up. Total for day 1: 112 miles riding, 7:25 ride time, 10 hours total time, 15.1 mph and 2 REALLY nice pit stops.

  

We had dinner in a pretty good Thai restaurant where we saw some other riders. During our conversation we mentioned we had stopped for lunch in Bow, took our time, etc. One guy said “oh that’s the way to do it, (pointing at his friend) – he wanted to be the first to Bellingham” (apparently they were actually second into Bellingham). So I said “well we did our intense riding earlier in the year when we did STP in one day, so this time we wanted to relax and enjoy the ride”… Hehe. Not many years I’ll be able to use THAT as a trump card :)

Day 2: we woke up again at 5:45, and got ready. We crammed a bad bowl of cereal courtesy of the hotel, checked out and rode to the bag drop off at the Best Western. Our plan was instead of heading back to McLeod and the route that way, we headed north on Meridian and west across Bakerview back to our route. We left at 6:35, and then stopped a few blocks down the road at a Walgreen’s and then at Woods Coffee – for coffee and a scone. Much better than the breakfast at the hotel. We were ostensible on the road by 7:15 – about 45 minutes after we had originally wanted to be, but happy we had found a good coffee shop.

The valley north of Bellingham is also beautiful and we had no wind… great for a morning riding. A detour had us go up and over a hill back to Hanegan road sooner than the cue sheet had listed. We passed our share of folks and were passed by a fair share, but the road was mostly empty. Having had breakfast already, we skipped the Dutch Mother in Lynden (although Ruben used the public restrooms) and kept going to the border.

I still get a chuckle about the ditch into Canada. Don’t cross it! (And yes, there was border patrol watching…)

This year the “Wall” (the big hill) was MUCH easier than last year, although this was the only time I even remotely felt my hamstring. It is better but not 100% (and I have to accept it may never be again).

It was sad that the ferry in Fort Langley wasn’t part of our ride this year… Ruben was especially sad since he did this just this spring. Instead we rode this very beautiful NEWLY paved road near the water for quite some time (and managed some great averages) and then went over the Golden Ears bridge – which was just gorgeous. The descent on the other side was a little odd (the sidewalk felt funny under the tires). The rest of the ride from this point feels “functional” – loads of city riding and traffic, but I still like the excellent park in Port Moody and want to take Elias there. We stopped there, had another little snack (I should have eaten more), then headed UP the hill on route 7A. Again, SO much easier than last year.

I was passed by a bunch of people, but eventually we caught up with them during all the stop and go of the bike way in Vancouver. Eventually we caught up to riders 1, 2 and 3 and rode in right behind them. Even though I registered on January 5 we were rider 1280 and 1281 respectively, I guess because RSVP sold out on Jan 6!

Ruben and I finished just around 1pm. Stats for day 2: 5:06 ride time, 6:30 hours total time (if you include breakfast at the coffee shop), 15.5 av speed. We got into the garage and found there were probably 50-75 MAYBE bikes down there. In fact we had made such good time and were so early that our bags weren’t ready. We did a lot of stretching and ate the burgers at the “party” while we waited. Eventually we got our bags and were among the first to shower. It felt awesome.

While waiting for my sister and hubby to come into town, we walked down Robson and caught the Zombie meet-up, walked with the zombies for a bit, then sat and had more snacks at a coffee shop around the corner from the finish line. Jacki and Ron showed up, we had dinner at a Malaysian place called the Banana Leaf restaurant (quite good), then headed home. There was 0 wait at the border, and we were home by 9:45pm.

I saw this quote on one of the message boards “Not only are there fewer cyclists on RSVP, since there is less support, there are fewer inexperienced cyclists. The slower riders may be slower, but they are more likely to know what they are doing and are more predictable. You’ll be able to more comfortably pass them.” (by Claire Petersky). It’s really true.

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!

Century? What Century?

That would be Flying Wheels Summer Century. First the stats.

Anthony woke up at 5 and bike out to Marymoor. I took the more leisurely route by sleeping in until my body woke me up at 5:45 and drove to the start. (Hint, park in the East parking lot, it’s free). Anthony met me there at 7:30 and we were off.

We started out slowly so I could warm up (even though Anthony had his 20 mile warm up)…. well by slow apparently it was 18 mph on East Lake Sammamish. And yet we were being passed.

I knew what to expect from that first hill (Ingelwood hill) because last year it’s where I had to stop with Elias on the tandem 1/2 way up. Still, plodding along, still being passed. In fact we were passed a LOT for the first 1/2 of the ride. Then again I expected it.

Occasionally we found “trains” of folks we could latch onto. We couldn’t maintain hanging onto the crazy trains doing 20-22mph. Same paced trains (we’d find them just after stopping at a rest stop or light) – we could hang with with less effort, which was nice.

However, if they passed us somewhat slowly we figured we could hop on for about the same effort as what we were currently doing, only go a little faster. We’d mostly hang on until we’d hit a hill of some kind – then I just lose them (note to self: keep working on hill climbing). Some were good – nice and consistent, the annoying ones were spurty – fast, slow, fast, slow, fast, slow. We found a couple of smaller ones (i.e. 2 other people) and would hook on to them. One pair the guy had an Italia shirt on and (as it turns out) his boss was as Anthony put it – a human billboard (tall cyclist – great to draft!). In another case just outside Snohomish we hooked on to a pair, on guy in a Washington Husky jersey.

The route for the most part is beautiful. I still hate the part on 203, particularly since the road is or was under construction, has a horrible surface AND a ton of gravel just on the side. Plus the drivers there are totally obnoxious. I called out for folks to gear down just before the turn onto Stillwater Hill Road. one guy didn’t hear me apparently and totally died on that hill, and fell over. Ouch.

On Cherry Valley road I remembered how last year I was in tears at this point – exhausted from lugging Elias around on the tandem. Anthony called it “rickshawing” him… because really he wasn’t doing much work. I was feeling a LOT stronger at this point than last year.

I remember hitting the turn off for the 100 mile route at 9:50 and just being amazed. The loop was the same that we had done the previous week for the RAMROD training series, so I knew better what to expect. I also now know why I lost that train last week – it turns out that we had been going up what the cue sheet said was a 1 mile hill… and I remember last week not eating enough before it. This week was better, but I still got tired on the little blip right as we passed under route 522 the first time (the place I lost the train last week).

In Snohomish we skipped the pie and instead had coffee, and I had an orange cake that was mighty tasty. We had a slight tail/cross wind going across to Monroe, then a tail wind for a while. I couldn’t figure out where the winds were blowing from – up there it was out of the north and West, down on East Lake Sammamish it was blowing from the South and West. I don’t know how much of that has to do with the “convergence zone” or if it has to do with the hills and how wind get squirrelly near the hills. Probably both.

Until we hooked up with the metric century route we were still mostly being passed instead of passing. We found a pretty good train of people once we hooked up back up with the rest of the crowd. The Camp Korey food stop had almost run out of food by the time we came by the second time (as opposed to the bounty we found there the first time through).

West Snoqualmie River Road is one of my favorite parts of this ride – even with the headwind. We wound up hooking onto a medium sized train doing around 19mph. I almost lost them once or twice, but kept up at the tail end. Then my toe started to bug me. I think I was cramping up in my leg and the pain was referring down into the toe. Still I hung on. Later I heard from the other guys leading that they were cramping up too. So I didn’t feel so badly.

The next step is the 3 mile long killer hill at the end. Anthony did *really* well on this hill – he’s gotten so strong. I plodded up, but my plodding was faster than a large majority of the other folks on the road by this point. I have to say that made me feel a little better – like all this training has done *something.* However, by the time we got to the last food stop, I needed to have a slightly longer rest to “reset” my left leg and get it to stop hurting. Before then we were able to have these nice short “get food, use facilities and leave.” However the rest was good and I had enough energy to get through the last hill on 228th AND the rollers on E. Lake Sammamish Pkwy.

Now for irony: at the end of the ride we stopped at the light at Inglewood Hill Road. I turned and saw the dad of a kid from Elias’ baseball team last year (I had also seen him the previous year). He’s a strong rider and had done the century last year and this. So the light turns green and he zips on ahead with two other guys – one in a U of M jersey. A little while later a train goes by – a little faster than us, so we decide to hook on. After a while they’re going a LOT faster than us – like 21-22. Up hill. (we did have a tail wind though). I was having to push from time to time to keep on but it was FUN! Then the irony: one by one we wind up passing the three guys who had sped off at the light.

Anthony split off before heading to the finish line – he had to be in Shoreline by 5 and was pretty much amazed he could finish the whole ride AND get the ride up to Shoreline by 5pm. To quote him “I was so far ahead of schedule, I made it all the way home and managed a 90 second shower before the family left.”

Anthony’s gear said we averaged 16.1, but I have 15.7. His total mileage was 142, mine gear said I did 97.

And I slept 10 hours in a row last night. :)

2009 Chilly Hilly

Chilly Hilly’s requisite data. I lost a bit of data at one point during the ride, so the mileage is a little low.

Megan and I took the 7:55 ferry – there were loads of people. We saw Tristan the Ride Ref on the ferry over, but he got off the ferry much quicker than we did (and probably was very quick on the route). I also thought I had seen my advisor Steve T, and it turns out I had.

Chilly Hilly was Hilly, but not so chilly this year. It was drizzling a bit at the beginning, but stopped raining within an hour. It warmed up quite nicely.

I was a bit skittish on the hills and I couldn’t figure out why until I realized I had very little back braking capability. I thought I needed new brakes, but the nice folks at the REI tent at the first big stop just tightened things down with a REALLY great tool (I need one of those things). It took a while (the guy in front of me had broken his chain) I was also a little slow on the uphills, and realized by stop 1 that I was bonking a bit. It got better after some food, but not terrific.

Plusses: The company :) , the ride, the folks directing traffic at the beginning of the ride, and the sign-age early on. The views, particularly down near the south west corner of the ride.

Minuses: The lack of noticeable Dan Henrys later in the ride, The sign that seemingly pointed to no where for the Cider stop (so I missed it), my legs, which I thought were strong but apparently are not, the folks who a) rode slow in the middle of the street or b) stopped dead in the middle of the street c) the folks crossing the yellow line because of a) and b), etc. Quite frankly, it was worse than the newbies on STP. I had to ask folks a number of times to please get to the right of the road if they’re stopping.

Megan and I stopped at Pegasus coffee and I had a fantastic latte and scone. We actually lounged there and just enjoyed the weather and sitting outside. I was watching the .83 folks whiz by on their way to their chili feast.

Megan and I then caught – what was it the 12:30 ferry? Something like that. I took a couple of pictures on my cell phone after Megan pulled out her cool cell phone. This was one of the pictures. She’ll have to send the others.

The ferry back was pretty packed. Actually Megan and I bumped into Mitchel today on the ferry ride home (as well as Steve T). We started to talk about STP.

A first timer’s RSVP 2008

Because this is yet another of my long write ups, here are the requisite stats. BTW, if you use motionbased.com, don’t ever combine stats over 24 hours. ’cause if you do it will muck up things like your average heart rate which becomes like 27. Or your speed. So ignore those.

And pictures.

Anthony asked Ruben and me at lunch after the ride what the best part of RSVP was.

I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Was it that Ruben rode with me on an almost double century? That was pretty great. Was it that Anthony also rode with us and was riding strong? Also good. Was it the beautiful ride? Coffee in Snohomish? A great stop in Mt. Vernon? The lack of rain? Chuckanut drive? A massage at the mall in Bellingham? The fun crossing the border? The ferry? The water park in the heat of the day? Seeing Vancouver from the hill in Burnaby?

I think the best part was that I completed the whole ride “with dignity” on an injured leg that didn’t get re-injured in the process.


I hurt my left glut and piriformis muscle a few years ago playing softball. Last year it got bad enough I did PT. It got better but not 100%. I played softball again this summer, and was careful as I could be until our semi finals, then finals when it was completely pulled a mere 6 days before the ride. Then I went on a 50 mile ride around lake WA on Monday with Anthony the next day. Maybe it was a bit much. So I got a couple of quick appointments to get some PT because as I said to Anthony in email “not riding is not an option.”

The with dignity thing: Ruben said he had 3 goals for RAMROD: Finish, Finish without cramping, Finish strong. He felt he did the first 2. Anthony said the only goal should be “finish with dignity” – meaning if you finished so hard you make yourself throw up, you at least have cleaned the vomit off your face.

Day 1, After a false start and running back to the house for my cycling gloves, Ruben and I rode down to U village and around rather than going over the 65th street hills to get to Magnusson to give my leg time to warm up. We met up with Anthony, got our “Sherpa service” to have our bags sent to our hotel. We were on the road by 6:50, up and over the lake, through Woodinville. We climbed the first hill where Ruben saw Wendie and cousin (?) Megan. Ruben waited for me and Anthony, then we wound up passing Megan, looking for Wendie. Turns out Wendie had just made it up and down her first big hill – a tough part for her and she was ahead of us!

Our next stop was Snohomish for coffee. MMM. Then onto the Centennial trail where we passed Wendie and Megan. We took a slight diversion into Lake Stevens for a food stop, then continued on. I was really looking forward to the downhill part of the trail, but the route took a right just before we started our descent. We continued to climb through some very pretty areas, although some of the roads were not-so-fun chip seal. It was also starting to heat up and I was having some problems with my front deraileur rubbing – something I tried to fix at one point and ALMOST made it really bad, but only made it slightly worse.

I had to down shift very low for most of the hills so I’d lose Anthony and Ruben… which was frustrating, but I could really feel exactly where my leg could and couldn’t go. As I explained to the guys, it was like biking on one leg – I wasn’t really having any pain on the flats, but I had absolutely NO power on the uphills from that leg.

We flew down a hill into Arlington and tried to decide what to do. We were hungry (and I think I was starting to bonk and I wasn’t drinking enough again)… but stopping for lunch didn’t seem quite right yet. So we stopped at a 7-11 and I introduced Ruben and Anthony to the joys of eating corn nuts on a ride. They each got a Rock Star energy drink – none for me thanks! Oh and bummer to the guy who lost a chain and was looking for a bike shop or ride support. I hope he was able to complete the ride.

Onwards we went and got to Mt. Vernon with very little trouble except it kept getting hotter and hotter. The stop at Mt. Vernon was great and I was introduced to Dave’s Killer Bread with peanut butter. I’m hooked. I also stood in a long line to have the one bike mechanic tweak my deraileur. It still rubs, but I’d rather that than have the chain fall off. At least I hadn’t lost my rear brake pad like the guy on the tandem. At least he found a replacement.

The next part of the ride was through the north part of the Skagit flats in the mid-afternoon. Can you say WINDY? Terrible cross and headwinds. As bad as going up a hill for my leg. Fortunately I had Ruben “legs” Ortega in front of me – I’d say breaking wind, but really he hadn’t had the spicy corn nuts yet (those came later).

We made a turn to the north onto Chuckanut drive at Bow WA, and I took some advil knowing the hills were coming. Interestingly the wind just completely died as soon as we hit the hilly part. But it was hills. Again I was slow, but steady, I was noticing that I was having a little less pain, but then again, I had taken the advil.

Chuckanut drive is just beautiful – the views, the park up there (I really want to go camping there with the kids). I met back up with the guys at the top of the last hill where there is always (apparently) a lemonade stand. The lemonade was just ok – not as great as the stuff that one high school kid was selling as a fund raiser for Matthew’s beach park on the Burke Gilman trail a few years ago, but satisfying, hydrating calories.

We took the hill down into town, passed the first two bag stops. We had to come off the route by about 1/2 a mile to get to our hotel. Little did I know the other official bag drop was literally two blocks from our hotel – had I known that I wouldn’t have paid for the Sherpa service. oh well, it did go to benefit some really cute Rugby college boys.

We wound up finding a Rite Aid with a massage chair, a TV, a water fountain and a blood pressure machine – we were hungry but this was quite a draw for about 5 minutes. Ruben got low score on the BP/heart rate. We crossed the parking lot and had dinner at India Flavors – a passable Indian restaurant. Ruben and Anthony ate voraciously, but I wasn’t so hungry…

We crossed the street and checked out hte movie theater – not much was there, so instead we found a woman giving massages in the massage chairs. I got a 15 minute massage that did just the trick on my neck and hip. Anthony got one too. In between I got some ice cream (’cause there is always room for ice cream in the separate ice cream stomach). We closed the mall and went back to our rooms for the night.

The next morning we had a barely passable breakfast in the motel, chatted with a few other riders and left around 7am. We took the 1/2 mile jaunt back to the route and wound up on a fantastic stretch of road. It was still cool, the roads were beautiful and there was no wind. Interestingly enough, the leg was better! Well not perfect but about 75% as opposed to just not functional the day before.

One bit we saw: We were coming up to a stop sign and saw a guy go down. He was still for a moment, then started writhing around holding his arm. It was a total “stop and drop.” I thought we were going to need to wait for help with him, he looked really hurt. He got up and started swearing up a storm at the woman he was with – presumably his wife because who else would put up with that?!??! In no uncertain terms she apparently needed to learn how to tell people when she was stopping.

Umm, dude? Didn’t you see the big red octagonal STOP sign? It said STOP. No one else is in front of you except your wife and the STOP sign. Perhaps it’s time to prepare to STOP before casting aspersions. Having had enough of his tirade, we left him and his poor ride partner and headed on towards the border.

On the cue sheet there is one cue that says “Do not cross the ditch into Canada”. I was wondering about that. There’s a great picture in the gallery of Anthony commenting about the ditch and the border and I’m cracking up.

The border crossing was fine, except that Anthony didn’t have a bib number, but she let him through anyway.

A bit later we hit the “wall” – a steep 1/3 mile climb. Again I lost them. I had been feeling pretty good up until then, but that hill made the ache come back. There was a woman walking here bike up the hill – holding the rear wheel up. She was going to wait for support at the top of the hill because her rear deraileur had completely broken. Bad news on that one! Ouch!

I did make it to the top and slugged on for a while until I caught up with the guys again. We did a quick pit stop at a gas station somewhere in here and the guys got more rock star and Ruben got spicy corn nuts and decided this was the breakfast of champions: spicy corn nuts and diet Rock star. I decided not to draft him quite so closely.

There were a LOT Coming up to the ferry that crosses the Fraser River that we skirted around. We did boogie a bit and managed to be just about the last people in line they were letting across for that ferry. We were on just after the motorcycles – one of which back fired just as she fired it up. That was loud.

The ferry took only 15 minutes or so, but then we got stuck behind a big dump truck backing onto a construction site for about 5 minutes.

The next bit of the ride was a bit “functional” – kind of like route 30 in Oregon, and getting as hot. No shade. Ugh. But we did get into a fantastic paceline until I hit a hill (which of course I lost the guys again). I was good about catching up on the downhill/flats after a hill – I don’t think they were holding back too much. The next bit was stop and go as we hit the next food stop – and a much needed water refill in in Haney/Maple Ridge.

Oh should I mention I got Oreos on each stop?!??!? There were oreos here too. MMMM oreos.

I’m not recalling much of the next bit, except that it was very hot. There was one section where we were on this gorgeous bit of trail by some water in the middle of the city. Some guy had 3 dogs loose on the trail and we had to stop to pay homage to the dogs. Oh there was one mis-step with the cue sheet where the road was under construction and just had been turned into a cul-de-sac – so we had to walk our bikes over the curb.

By the time we got to the Port Moody stop, I needed more water again. I found the water fountain on the other side of the bathrooms and there was nirvana. A water park. I immediately took off my shoes and socks and went through, – then called Ruben and Anthony to come down and have a look. We spent longer there than we expected, but it was SO worth it.

The next bit was excruciating – along the Barnett Highway (7A) in Burnaby. It was just like route 30 only with a horrible headwind. Even Ruben was having trouble with it. We managed to pass a few guys, then got passed by a great paceline with a guy in a U of M (Go Blue!) jersey and another guy in an Illini Jersey. We hooked on and things became a bit easier (amazingly it gets easier the more folks on the line) – But again, I lost them on the hill. Ruben stuck with me, but Anthony pushed to keep up with them – and asked a question I was curious about: how do they get to push so fast on hills? What kind of training do they do? The answer? A lot of interval training. As much as I hate it, I’m going to have to start to do more interval training.

The next part of the ride was more annoying than anything. We were on a bike route but it was one where the cross traffic has the right of way. We had to stop every couple of blocks. We knew we were within 10 miles so didn’t stop, and tried to keep hydrated and fed. I just was looking forward to “real food.”

The thing that kept me going was when I saw the Vancouver skyline! Then we were in the Asian district – where one of the other riders asked if anyone wanted to buy heroin (apparently we were near a street notorious for that). Then we went through the Gaslight district – and it was shady and cooler. I knew there was one more “small hill” which a few riders said really wasn’t anything. I also knew we were ending in Stanley park – so I expected the hill IN Stanley park. We went up one or two small hills (and my chain fell off twice so I had to stop and fix that)… I lost Ruben behind me at a light or something.

I turned right and saw some people cheering. I thought “oh we must be getting kind of close”. Then I hammed it up for the photographers. I didn’t look for Ruben because I thought we ended in a park. Suddenly I see some some guy tell me to make a right turn into a garage?!?!?!? I’m thinking “This is some weird way to get to Stanley park”

That’s when I realized “this IS the finish. we’re at the finish hotel”

It was over.

HUH?

Well as weird as that was, I got over it. First order of business, I collected my bag, then took a wonderful shower. We got our free beer/wine and left the “party” which really seemed a bit lame actually – although Ruben and Anthony did spot a very nice looking girl giving out the drink tickets. I could totally tell why they liked her – long hair, she ahem, presented, well… and she had these great glasses. Nerdy and yet cool all at the same time. I mean even I understood why she was stunning.

After we tore our eyes away from her, checked “out” with the finish line folks (and had grabbed our finish line badges (yea you pick those up at the party), we asked the concierge for a good sushi place – Tampopo. We had a quick bite to eat there, picked up some coffee and munchies that never made it out of the coffee place went back to the hotel to collect our bikes. We met up with my sister Jacki who had arrived with perfect timing, loaded the bikes and headed south.

Jacki wins the iron butt award for 6-7 hours total driving to Canada and back to collect us.

We arrived home close to 7pm, safe and sound and ready to ride again.

Soggy Seattle Century

I’m mourning lost data again here, but this time it was totally user error. Oh well. (Last time it was because I didn’t delete old rides and ran out of memory on the machine. You’d think it would warn you of that!)

Highlights:
– New Sidi shoes rock, but when you get new shoes, remember to tighten the cleats after a few miles.
– The food on this ride was good and plentiful.
– The support was good – although not many support vehicles seen, there was a number you could call for pick up.
– The route markings (dan henrys and signage) weren’t so good – I talked to the ride officials about that.
– Maybe 1000 people rode? something like that.

Long story if anyone is interested:

I left the house at 5:50 – 5 minutes than I wanted, but it was because it had ran back in to get an extra pair of socks and my waterproof pants. There was a light rain when I left.

I got to Magnusson about 15 minutes later after going across 68th street and all those hills. I was impressed I started out that way.

At Magnusson I found out that I could have easily gotten my bib number there – instead of running to REI yesterday. They had a nice array of bananas, bagels, PB, Jelly, etc. And marshmellows for hot chocolate. I had just eaten and was ok, so grabbed 1/2 a banana. I left a bag (and my waterproof pants) in case I wanted to change clothes at the end and got on the road around 6:20.

It was kind of a lonely bit of trail – I saw a few other bikers, passed a few, but it was early. It was still rainy all the way up there, but the road didn’t have puddles yet. First stop – Bothell Landing (across the bridge) – the only reason to stop was to use the bathroom – 4 nicely cleaned port-a-potties. I grabbbed another 1/2 banana and 2 orange slices. Oh they also had hard boiled eggs.

Back on the road I kept up for a while with a guy who works at REI. It was coming down even harder now and the road was wet. My legs were a mess and my new shoes But at the next stop (Marymoor) – he took off quickly. I looked at the array of food options – which included Fried chicken. Somehow that just did NOT seem appealing at 7:45 am. I think I had a banana and peanut butter here.

Big problem was that it was so wet I didn’t drink hardly at all. In fact I don’t think I refilled a water bottle until Stop 4.

After you leave Marymoor you go east, across a housing development to 202, then down the historic brick road (annoying) and across to Duvall. The hill climb here was gradual and nice. At some point a guy named Andre commented about my music, so we chatted ab it. He was with another guy (Chris) – and they were a bit faster than me. Andre was a monster on the hills – I was very impressed. Chris (as I later had found out) had run 5 miles in the Torchlight parade the night before. They’d go on ahead, then I’d catch up, etc. I was taking downhills slower because of all the water on the roadway.

We crossed the valley into “backwards” from the Flying Wheels route, then UP the hill to stop 3 at Cherry Hill Elementary. I saw Andre and Chris here, had a few pretzels, and a 1/2 a PB&J – and topped off my hardly drunken water bottle.

Shortly after I left Andre and Chris caught up again, and we wound up riding the rest of the ride together. The rollers through the back part of Cherry Hill were nice – and the only thing to note here was that we think some trickster was switching signs around on us. Not cool. We put them back.

Down 203 (not my favorite stretch) to Carnation (almost though about stopping at a coffee shop) and tucked in behind Andre who was behind a few other folks. Really nice pace line going until Remlinger farms. Fortunately the rain had stopped so pace lines were an option (the rain was kind of stop and go all day).

There I couldn’t get my left cleat out. Turns out I now knew why I wansn’t getting a lot of pull on that side – one of my screws came out of one that cleat! Andre kindly helped me tighten things up (and Chris helped me stay upright) – then we got PIE ala mode! AWESOME! MMMMM. I wanted two or three, but kept myself to 1. Filled my water bottles (I was finally drinking), I changed my socks (and only teased them a little bit) and we headed on the road.

It took us a second to realize we needed to cross 203 on Tolt Hill Road, but then we followed W. Snoqualmie River Road – one of my favorite stretches. We wound up following the Flying Wheels route, but cutting off on Issaquah Fall City road. (There were other folks doing another ride on the same route – the Tour De Peaks) This we took to Preston where Chris’ wife was a DOLL and brought us each a latte. The folks at Gregg’s greenlake (including a repair guy I recognized) very very very kindly gave me a new screw for my cleat (I heart Gregg’s) and they had pasta salad. I had 2 cookies and a fruit bar thing here.

The next stretch was kind of cool – some people didn’t like it but I thought it was a hoot. We rode on I-90! One exit only, but it was COOL! I hadn’t done that before. We got off and wound up in Issaquah, then went up the killer hill for the day: Sunset Way. OUCH! Many people were getting off and walking here. Chris stopped, so I did too to take off my jacket. Andre powered up once again.

We were supposed to go up by the Issaquah Zoo and the kill “Lakemont” hill that Ruben was a little excited I was going to go on. But the folks at the Preston stop said they had to cut it out because of construction, so we went “straight” to Factoria, then over to Luther Burbank park.

First, Chris’ wife also met us there (more coffee, but a hot chocolate for me). I had to fill my bottle so we went over and there was strawberry shortcake! MMMMMMMMMMMM Happy Happy!

This is where I must have hit my pause button. Oh well. WE left there and crossed I-90 back to Seattle, and I realized that I was missing data by Madison Park. At this point we were passing many 50 milers.

They had us not follow the standard bike route through the twisty turnies- instead we went “straight” to Madison Park and up Madison – then caught up with the bike route.

At Marymoor they had a ton of bike racks set up, they had a whole dinner with roles, salad, grilled asparagus, chicken, salmon and brownies. Oh and an ice sculpture. :) We ate at the ampitheatre, got our goodie bags which included coffee and 2 beers (I skipped the beer garden). Andre said his good byes, then Chris and I rode back to U Village (turns out we live about a mile from each other – Andre lives in Alaska but comes down here to visit the in-laws and get in all his yearly outdoor riding in about a month.)

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!