This past weekend, I rode my bike from Seattle to Portland for the GroupHealth’s Seattle to Portland Classic. All in all, it was 202 miles from UW Seattle to Portland. I took two days to get to Portland and many events happened, I will try to share my experience and hopefully, this will help future STP riders.
When my friends and I decided to do the STP, we decided early that 1 day STP would be way to crazy, that would be over 12 hours of riding at an incredible speed of 18 or 19 miles per hour. Since we did not want to do that, we decided to do a two day ride. Instead of a even break of around 100 miles the first day, and around 100 miles the second day, we decided to do around 150 miles to Longview, WA on the first day and around 50 miles to Portland.
DAY 1 – 150 Miles to Longview, WA
Day 1 started off really early, we decided to meet around 4:45 am, so I was up around 3:45 am to get ready and prepare. The night before I went to sleep pretty early, but I was very nervous and anxious about the ride. I have never done anything like this before, the longest ride I have ever done was 77 miles. This was going to be a challenge. When we got to UW, it was around 5:30 am and the sun was already peaking out, we started from the starting line at 5:45am.
After a short and fast 25 miles ride out of Seattle, we arrived at our first official rest stop.
Shortly after our first stop, we faced “the hill”. “The hill” suppose to be the largest climb of the day and of the ride, but we found out later that this doesn’t seem like the case. It maybe because it is still early in our ride, I was able to climb “the hill” without too much trouble at all. Shortly after the hill is the first series of rolling hills through Auburn, WA.
This is also when I got one of my first comments about my Auburn University Bicycle jersey. The comment was, “humm… it ironic that you are riding through Auburn with an Auburn jersey on.” Of course, my answer was, “that’s right!!! WAR EAGLE, BABY!”
On my 3rd rest stop of the STP ride, I came across an Alabama guy. He was wearing an Alabama jersey. “Oh”, I said to myself, “I’ve got to take a picture with that guy”.
100 miles later, we finally reached Centralia, WA, the mid-point of the ride. This was where most people stopped for the night, but my group decided to stop at Longview so we still have another 50 miles to go. When we first roll in to Centralia College, it was very welcoming. There are people giving out cream-sicles (ice cream on a stick) and lots of festival activity, but for us, we knew that we still have 50 miles to go, so we took a short break at a small turkey sandwich, fill our water and we were off again. Oh there are times that I wish that my first day ride just ended in Centralia, but I know that if that is the case I will hate myself on day two.
After Centralia was a series of rolling hills again, then there is the Napavine hill. I found this hill much tougher than “the hill”. Maybe because it is 100 miles later or maybe it is truly a bigger hill, but it was tough. There are no official stops from Centralia until few miles outside of Longview, WA. After leaving Centralia, I stopped at ever stop alone the way, Napavine, Winlock, Vader, and Castlerock. Along the way I got lost, took a wrong turn, but did end back on the trail, I also begin to have cramps on my calves, but with the help of banana and electrolytes, I was able to bike to Longview, WA. I remember really clearly the last few miles before Longview, I was mentally telling myself just few more miles to go, and comparing the distance to my distance to work. Around 5:30 pm I made it to the motel in Longview. After around 12 hours, I biked 150 miles. For dinner, we had some wonderful local Mexican food and shortly after that I fell asleep.
Day 2 – 52 miles to Portland
Day 2 started off pretty slow, we met up around 7:30 for breakfast at the local McD. Yep the breakfast of the champions right? Around 8:45, we departed from the motel and are on our way to Portland. Our estimated time of arrival will be around 12:30pm to 1 pm. Around 9:00 am, we biked across the Longview bridge into Oregon. Good-Bye Washington, Hello Oregon. I was feeling a be sore at first, but after 30 minutes or so, I am feeling great. After the bridge, the route follow along the river and it’s once again rolling hills. As I was going up one of the hills, I heard some one yell out, “Are you from Auburn?” I said yes, and we both yelled out “WAR EAGLE!!!” Our battle cry gave me an extra bit of juice and I pedal faster and stronger up the hill. During the first 15 miles to our first stop, I reached my all time high top speed of 40.5 miles per hour. It was amazing fast going down hill on my bike. Thinking back, it’s pretty crazy and I don’t know if I would do that again.
At our first stop of the day, we all felt really strong and did not stop long and we were on our way. As normal, Colin was the strongest and was gone shortly after we left the rest stop. I was slower than Colin, but faster than Brian. Shortly after we left the rest stop, we were all on our own following different pace lines. As I was around 1 mile out from small town of St. Helens, a group of bike in front of me slowed down all of the sudden. I grab my breaks and slowed down, and BAM!!!! Out of no where, I was slammed by another bike!!! I flew forward for about 3-4 seconds trying to regain my balance and fell on the pavements. I was on the ground trying to see if I am bleeding or now and then to check on what’s going on. I saw the other guy on the ground too. But he seems to be ok as well. While I was still in shock, all I remember is all the other STP riders yelling, “get the F*CK off the road!!!!” Yes, guys very very classy. and the fact is there is a minivan that stopped to help us and was actually blocking the bike land to protect us, they really do not need to be so rude. Amazingly, the Goldwing riders came by really quickly and check to make sure we are ok. Physically, I seem to be ok, my left arm is bang up, but I was ok, no major cuts, however, my bike was not so lucky. My new bike that I just bought one week ago is all messed up. The rear derailer was messed up, and one of the rear tire spoke was out of the hub and bent. There was no way I was able to ride on. My only hope was to get to a near by mechanic and maybe, maybe they have a new tire or something that can help me through my last 30 miles. The person that hit me was friendly, he was from Canada. When I told him of my bike situation, how my bike was stolen 1 week before STP and how I just bought this brand new bike, he agreed to pay for my repairs.
Since I was stuck here, I called Vicky and asked for a pick up. Vicky was about 1.5 hours away so we waited. The Canadian’s ride came about 1 hour later and agreed to drop me off at the nearest rest stop with a bike mechanic, which was only one miles away. When we got there, I wasn’t sure if they can help me. But amazingly enough, Ted from BikenHike, a bike shop from Portland, OR, was able to patch me up, adjust my derailer and sent me off to finish my last 30 miles. My derailer performed excellent, I could not tell that I had an accident. So, please visit them, BikenHike. if you need a bike and you are in Portland, they are great!!!
Ok, enough promotions, back to the story. I fill up my water bottle and continue my ride. At this time, my friends are already finished the ride and started on their beers and I was still 30 miles out. The unfortunate thing is that when my bike was fixed Vicky was only 5 minutes out and I told her that I am going to finish my ride. I felt bad for Vicky doing all that extra driving, but I do really appreciate her support and felt really loved to have someone to be there for me. I love you, Vicky!!!
The last 30 miles was pretty good, I did not stop at any more stops. When I finally reached the St. Johns Bridge, I knew I only have few more miles to go.
After the bridge, it was a slow ride across the north end of Portland and eventually ending up at the finish line. Right before the finish line, I saw Vicky waiting for me, I cheered for her, she tried to snap a picture of me and … well… she tried, I was riding too fast, I was too excited.
202 miles, a bent spoke, broken hub, brused arm, and 4 War Eagles later, I finished the 2011 Seattle to Portland Classic. An Auburn Tiger never quits!!!
Oh and the beers and the hamberger at the after party are the BEST EVER!!!!!
So will I do it again? Oh I don’t know yet… ask me in 8 month!!!
What would I change? I probably would train more, and change how I eat during my ride.
Take a look at all the pictures below. Enjoy!!!
Photos: 2011 STP Pictures
Get your very own Auburn Tigers Bicycle Jersey Click HERE!!!