Real life was pretty much put on hold last week as I tried to squeeze in a bunch of last minute training before the big ride on the weekend (200+ miles from Seattle to Portland!!)! I actually wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to ride on Saturday morning because of a handful of poorly timed things that happened during the week. On Monday, I had a pinched nerve in my upper back which lead to an inflamed rib on Wednesday. Went to go see a few medical professionals between Wednesday and Thursday and made sure to get okay-ed to ride before Saturday. On top of the medical stuff, I had ordered a couple of jerseys online to wear for the weekend (I only had one jersey previously) and the package never showed up! According to UPS, it was delivered but there was no package in sight at my apartment… riding topless wasn’t really an option either and REI’s jersey section had been pretty much cleaned out by Thursday night. Had to make a last minute pit stop to Velo Bikes and paid a few very pretty pennies for jerseys that I ordered online for more than 50% of the retail price.
On Friday night, one of my friends also doing the ride hosted a sleepover at his place so we could all head to the starting point together as a group (instead of trying to navigate through a crowd of 12,000 people to find each other). With my streak of luck, my back tire went flat as I was about to head out to the sleepover and another friend came over to help change out the inner-tube.
Once we were all set up for the sleepover, we headed up to the kitchen and had a huge carb-loading party!! This was the best idea, ever. Not pictured: way too many chocolate chip cookies and mega-sized red velvet cupcakes. We take carb-loading seriously! ;)
We all went to bed around 10pm because we had an early morning wake-up call at 5:30am!! Our goal was to be packed up and ready to go at the starting line by 6am. This meant biking a couple miles over to the UW campus and trying to find a couple friends who opted out of the sleepover. The size of the crowd waiting to start the ride was HUGE! We were let through the starting line in batches of ~100 riders:
The first few miles of the ride were really slow. With such a huge crowd of folks all trying to squish into a single traffic lane, it was hard to pick up the pace. Around the 10 mile mark, the crowd started to thin out a bit and we were able to start riding faster. It was really interesting to see all the different types of riders on the road. In our starting pack, there were a few couples on tandem bikes, someone dressed as a pirate (with an accompanying rider dressed as an octopus), and a group in tutus! Made me wish that the group I rode with had a cute matching uniform– maybe next time? ;)
After a couple hours on the road, we made it to our first pit stop at 25 miles. At every pit stop, there were some snacks (protein bars, sometimes fruits and/or cookies) and water. Since I have a handful of food allergies, I was carrying about a pound of extra weight in protein bars in case I was allergic to any of the snacks at the stops. If you’re following me on Instagram and also have peanut/almond/hazelnut allergies, I posted some of the bars that I carry for rides in this pic.
Around 11am, we made it to the 50 mile mark, which was located at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord base. There were bikes on the ground in every direction possible!! Never in my life have I seen so many bikes and so much spandex in a contained space! We stopped here for about an hour to fuel up on sandwiches (I avoided the PB&J like the plague), fruits, and lots of cookies, before heading back on the road for the last 56 miles of our day.
My friends always make fun of me because of how much grease is on my bike chain. I’ll admit that I had no idea what I was doing when I first started (trying to) maintaining my bike, so I may have gone a little overboard on the grease. Every time I ride, I end up with a “leg tattoo” from accidentally leaning my leg on the drive. Oops! Somehow, this leg grease made it up my calf to my thighs and eventually onto my elbows. How this happened is still a mystery to me…
The second half of our ride wasn’t particularly challenging, but the distance was definitely starting to take a toll on my body. I could feel my legs starting to get cramped and my butt was sore from being on the seat for so long. It didn’t help that the last 10 miles of our ride was in the rain. I’d take rain over 95F heat any day, but rain was the last thing we wanted to set up camp in.
There are a couple of options and locations to stop at for STP. Before even starting the ride, you have to pick a stop and commit to the distance between the starting point and the stopping location by dropping all of your camping and overnight gear into a semi-truck that unloads at the specific destination. My group picked Chehalis, which is 106 miles from the starting point as our stopping point for day 1. Welcome to our cute tent city… home for the night! We arrived here around 5:30pm, set up our tents, showered, and then headed to get dinner.
This is going to sound insane, but this plate of spaghetti was the best thing I had tasted all week! After biking for 100+ miles, I was exhausted and super excited to hear that there was all-you-can-eat pasta at the Chehalis stop. I may or may not have had 3 plates of pasta and two slices of cake for dinner… which also meant I may or may not have eaten more than some of the guys in my group that night. Burning ~8000 calories in a single day apparently makes me food crazy!
It was around 8pm that we finished dinner and then called it a night. I don’t know when the last time I slept before the sun set, but I was so tired that as soon as my body was zipped into the sleeping bag, I was out like a light. Waking up at 4:30am the next morning was a good motivator to be in bed asap!
Day 2 of STP to come!