Saturday, July 28, 2012


A few days after Valleygirl tri, the Melvilles hit the on another hare brain adventure.  This time we hired an RV...packed everything we could squeeze into it and headed across to Seattle.  My friend Ron and I had registered for the Seattle to Portland bike ride (STP). An iconic event where you ride the 204 miles (330 km) from Seattle to Portland in one or 2 days.{Just as a sideline: this is one of the few crazy ideas I am not responsible for - it was all Ron}.  Our friend Ken was supposed to join us to ride but a broken collarbone ruled that out.  He and his family did join the RV and act as our SAG wagons and support crew which was great and they got in some riding with us too which was fun.

The STP starts from the University of Washington so to avoid any rushing to the start in the morning, we camped in the RV in the parking lot the night before so all I had to do was roll out of bed and jump on my bike.  At 4:45am Ron met me in the car park and by 5:00am we were rolling out. 

The first 50 miles were very congested.  Lots and lots of riders.  Luckily the race organisers and the police did a great job controlling vehicle traffic so we didn't have to stop at all for traffic lights or cars.  We virtually had the road to ourselves all the way out of Seattle. 

About every 25 miles there was an organised rest stop with port-o-potties, food, water, sports drinks and mechanical assistance.  The first one was at the REI in Renton and that was crazy busy but Ron and I managed to get in and out in 10 mins- fill up on food and drinks, use the bathroom and snap a picture with a fellow teamblazer we came across.

After this stop I noticed that long lines of super fast peletons were forming.  They are like racing lines where one cyclist follows closely behind another to get the benefit of drafting off them.  It basically results in more speed for less effort. Sometimes Ron and I would turn around and see a line of 20 cyclists behind us, or we would catch up to other lines of riders and end up sitting at the back of one of these long lines. 

Inevitably accidents happen when you ride like this and after mile 50 Ron and I were caught up in one of them.   A peleton came up on the outside of a guy riding in front of Ron and when a truck tried to squeeze passed the peleton, it moved over and knocked the guy off his bike.  He went down, then Ron went down, then I went down.  Luckily we weren't hurt and we were able to jump right back on our bikes and keep going. Once we were going again I noticed my back tire was rubbing.  At first I thought it was my brakes rubbing but it turned out my back wheel was actually bent.  At this point there was nothing I could do about it.  It felt like I was riding the next 100 miles with my brakes on.  After our run in with the blacktop though we decided to keep our distance from the other riders and really hold our line and not be pushed over by these other people coming through.

We made it to mile 100 at Centralia feeling good and met up with Matt and the kids as well as the Sidles. Michelle and Aaron decided to ride the next 50 miles with us which was nice and we managed not to involve them in any cycling mishaps.  By the time we hit 150 miles we were at Longview and that is where we had planned to stay the night.  In hindsight Ron and I agreed that we should have completed the whole 204 miles in one day.  We felt good enough to keep going but because we had hotels booked we decided to stop there for the night. The upside of stopping over night is that Matt and Ken were thoughtful enough to find a bike mechanic who could fix my bike and true my back wheel again. So it was nice to know I wouldn't be riding the last 50 miles with my brake on.

The next day it was windy and rainy and we were wishing that we hadn't stopped at the 150 mile mark.  My legs were slow to get going and the weather made riding conditions slippery and slow.  But we managed to make those last 54 miles.  The final 15 miles coming into Portland were an excruciating experience.  We were wet and tired and ready to be done but it seemed like there was a set of traffic lights every 200 feet for the last 15 miles.
Finally we made it to the finish line where all our wet supporters were waiting.  I have to say I was glad to get off my bike.  Overall, the STP was a great ride.  I would definitely do it again but I would go for the one day finish. After it was all over we piled into the RV and headed for the coast for a well deserved vacation.

More on that in the next post.


  1. wow, 200+ miles!? and 150 in one day? you rock! sounds like a really fun event, though. hope you had a great (and well-deserved) vacation!

  2. You guys are awesome. :) Ken is hoping to do STP in the future (perhaps next year). :) Glad that you learned and passed along all these great lessons.

  3. Donna, save some up for AZ. Sounds like IM is going to be way too easy for you! Anyhow, I have heard about that ride. What about Cycle Oregon...have you done that one? All on my bucket list. Yes, I hope you take a few days off! Congrats.

  4. You have strange ideas of fun. : )

  5. I felt the same last year when I did the two-day: should have done it in a single day. That's definitely how I would do it in the future!