Key: 2008-07-12:    

2008 Seattle to Portland (STP) Bike Ride

We hopped on our bikes for another installment of the annual Seattle to Portland bike ride.

Begin Date:

End Date:

2008-07-12: 203.13 mi

Total: 203.13 mi

Maximum Elevation*:
478.88ft (146.895m)

Minimum Elevation*:
0ft (0.004m)

* This is derived from GPS data and can have major discrepancies due to poor GPS reception.

Trip Report:

We started off at 4:45AM from the University of Washington's football stadium parking lot, enthusiastic and ready for what we knew would be a long and hot day. This would be Tracy's 4th STP (All in one day) and Jason's 5th (All but one, in one day).

We made great time down to the first official rest stop at REI headquarters in Kent, thanks to a large and fast pace line we were able to latch onto.

After a short break we were on the road again heading to the next stop at Spanaway High School. Unfortunately we got grouped in with a very inconsistent pace line, which as any cyclist knows, can be extremely frustrating. It had some serious yo yo effect going on alternating between 18 and 25 mph. So lots of slowing way down and then immediately sprinting to keep up with the person in front of you, only to have slam on the brakes again.

We reached Spanaway still making good time and maintaining about a 19.5 mph average, despite being frustrated by our less than perfect pace line. We refueled and then hit the road again, heading for Tenino and shortly there after Centralia/Chehalis, and the half way point. During this leg we got in with what would be the best pace line we would see all day, a very fast and very steady line lead by a strong team.

We stayed with these guys as long as we could but ultimately got separated from them shortly after Tenino, when Jason's chain came off while waiting for a train. We tried frantically to catch up but that is a very hard thing to do when the pace line is heading away at 26-27mph. Unfortunately this would be a very big mistake for us to even try to catch them as we completely blew ourselves out in the process.

We ended up forming our own little pace line with a few other random riders and rolled in to Centralia for a much needed break. However once there, we saw the team we had lost after Tenino and decided to cut our break short in an effort to stay with them.

The problem here was that we were still pretty blown out from trying to catch them after Tenino, that we had a very tough time keeping up with them up to Napavine, where we finally let them go for good and took an easier pace for the rest of the leg. This is also where the heat of the day really started to take it's toll.

We rolled through a very quiet Napavine and on to Winlock for a decent stop for some much needed water and shade. We let ourselves rest a bit longer than normal simply to make up for cutting our halfway point stop so short. 20 minutes later we were back on the road, feeling much better.

The next stop would be Castlerock, about 20 miles away, followed by Lexington Park, which is close to the actual 3/4 mark. The problem with this area is that it is nothing but long rolling hills which tend to get a little old especially in the sun.

At Lexington Park, we again refueled and mentally prepped for the last 55 miles of which include the Longview Bridge about 5 miles away. We took about a half hour here since we had gotten in at almost exactly 3PM and we knew we had plenty of time to finish off the remaining leg.

We set back out at 3:30ish and made our way through Kelso and Longview, then up over the bridge over the Columbia, and into Oregon.

At this point we were less than 50 miles from the finish and we could just start to taste it which seemed to really help keep us going. As a result we were about to push on all the way to St Helens, about 30 miles from our last stop in Lexington Park. We were also fortunate enough to have joined up with a decent pace line averaging around 18-19mph, which at this point was plenty fast enough for us.

We were greeted in St Helens by what most cyclists consider a very poor display of law enforcement. There was one officer who would sit by the rest stop and ticket cyclists for not coming to a complete stop as the turned right at the light right before the rest stop. He would nab 10 or 15 at a time and really wasn't doing it in a very friendly tone either. It seems to us that after riding for 170 miles in 93 degree heat, the police should be helping the cyclists into the rest area instead of pulling them aside for 10 minutes while he writes them all tickets. It just seemed very unfair and very unnecessary.

We took another 15-20 minutes in St Helens, watching the most hated man on the entire STP route issue more citations before finally heading out on the very last leg. The next stop would be the finish line.

The final 30 miles went by pretty fast as at about Scappoose, we could see Portland in the distance. Also a good part of this leg was in the shade so that really helped to liven up our spirits and put and end to this ride.

Once in the city we meandered through downtown, went up over the Willamette, right by the Rose Garden and finally crossed the finish line at Holiday Park. With that we had finished the STP for the fourth time as a team in as many years. Now where's the beer garden? We are thirsty.