With over 10,000 riders, the STP or Seattle To Portland, is the largest club ride in the Northwest. Celebrating it’s 30th year, it’s a superbly organized event with an army of Cascade Bicycle Club volunteers spread over its 200 miles to cheer the bicyclists on.
Vic really didn’t need to talk me into this, but it was at his desire we signed up for the STP and made it the centerpiece of our riding schedule for the summer. More emotional than I, he claims he started crying at the finish line with the crowd yelling out his number. I say, “Right on to that.”
We split the course, like most riders do, into two days and spent the night with a largest bulk of riders in Centralia. The weather gave us both forms of Northwest summer: Saturday was very hot and Sunday cool and wet. Both days, we got a later start than we were hoping, but in doing so, it actually gave a bit of room to ride. 10,000 riders is a huge amount and at times, it was nearly impossible to safely stop or start your bicycle due to the amount of other bikes on the road. The course itself is surprisingly flat with only one hill of any consequence, and even that hill was hardly more than what we bike just to get home from any ride in Seattle.
While Vic can only wax poetically about the experience, I can say this: “I am not a club rider, I am an expeditioner!”. I’d not do this ride again as I did not enjoy being in a throng of cyclists (especially those without fenders, wearing i-Pods), felt constrained by needing to meet up with our luggage, and missed the flexibility of travel which is what my bicycle provides me.
What I liked most about the STP was looking at the wide variety of riders: clubster racers, obese people with a training mission, parents with kids in trailers, hipsters in jeans and u-locks out their back pocket, even the lone (and beat up) unicyclist! Pretty much every type of cyclist you can imagine is out there giving this ride a try. Many don’t make it, but hurrah for folks trying!
Here’s a shout out to two bicycle shops and all the mechanics on the road. Full Circle Bikes in Centralia stayed open late to fix many bikes, most like mine with busted spokes. While they couldn’t get mine fixed, they tracked down numbers for shops down the road. The next morning, heading out with not-perfect wheel, I met the good-looking boys of the Bike Stand of Olympia. Surprisingly, they had a Campy wheel and got me rolling with a lot more confidence. Thanks to both!