Seattle to Portland 1 Day

Mine (right) compared to an anonymous Seattlelite.
Guess what? We've both done STP
This ride is a rite of passage in Seattle - if you pop around on Strava and look at people's longest ride, you'll often see a number between 201-205 miles representing the day that individual decided to destroy their body and do STP (Seattle to Portland).

Of course, I figured I had to do it once, and it might as well be this year. I signed up reluctantly, like the way one might swallow a giant spoonful of peanut butter. 200 miles of largely flat highway with 10,000 riders (yes, you read that right, phonetically for the stunned ten thousand riders)... it just doesn't have the same thrill as the Vicious Series rides. In fact, it sounds like a moving mosh pit of saddle sores.

Taken at mile 145. I look pretty great because these great guys have been
pulling me for, you know, 140 miles
Fortunately (!) I found some friends who invited me to join them. Meet the High Performance Cycling (HPC) crew (https://www.cascade.org/high-performance-cycling) who, at least the ones I hang out with, would describe themselves as "guys who like to go fast but are only good at climbing" (sounds like me! Well, mostly!). After minor Lo-drama (gah! I didn't pick up my packet!) we set off at 4:30 AM from Seattle, beating the hoards by 15 minutes at the official start time of 4:45 AM.

The first 30 miles were a blur of passing people on crack/pot holed/ dirty city streets in the dark as the sun rose. It was amazing how fast we all got into sync with our paceline. Efficient drafting can reduce your energy output by up to 40% and man, we were getting close to that.

Eventually things calmed down from 8 cyclists across in the road to a reasonable 2-3 or (the nice times) just us. We almost always had leeches on us, meaning people who went "yahtzee! Free Ride!" and clung to our last person's wheel for dear life. Some of the leeches got a little aggressive, wanting to join our Fabulous Five; however, that typically leads to disaster (long story short, just picture poor choices and upside down bicycles) so we told them to go away and hang out behind us.

We reached the half way point (mile 99.5) was at Centralia about 5 hours in, drank a squirrel's body weight in chocolate milk (great mental image, yeah?), and then our fearless leader Jeff whipped us back on our bicycles to continue onward.

Faces of total relief. Our bikes are also wearing their relieved faces.
The second century involved the innocent heroine getting two flats (damn! Please don't kick me out of the Fabulous Five!) and Perry getting one (thanks Perry! Whew, it's not just me!). For me, the second century was a lot tougher (OK probably for everyone, too). My legs weren't tired because we were doing a great job of pacelining, but my heart hit this point where it just couldn't go higher than 150 bpm. When it did, and oh, it did... those guys wanted to do 23 mph+ on the flats the wholeeeee way, I was just miserable. Like totally, utterly, wanting-to-scream-and-cry miserable and it hurt (awww it's OK past Lo, it's over now). So my poor HPC friends not only had to deal with my flat bonanza, but they had a new challenge -- keep Lo's heart rate below 150 bpm (ironically, still about 20 mph into the head wind).

But we made it (after getting a little lost in Portland)!!! I'm glad I did it, I'm really glad I got to finish with the HPC gang (we acquired Jim to become the Savagely Awesome Six!). Will I do it again? Only if I have some special thing like "I'm doing STP on a single speed" etc. Was this the hardest thing I've ever done? Absolutely not - that award goes this fucking train wreck. Are the HPC guys the best? Yes!

What did I do to recover? Eat a bunch? I wish. I ended up bussing/walking/driving home, getting back at 12:30 AM to my apt, sleeping 6 hours, waking up, grabbing food, and then heading out the door to the next adventure (to be continued...)


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