Tuesday, July 20, 2010

STP - Day 1

Traffic was bad on Friday afternoon and by the time we got into Seattle it was a lot later then we had planned. Graeme had slashed his tire the night before and needed to get a new one. I knew the sponsoring bike store was open 24 hours before the rideand we passed it on our way to UW. After dropping off our stuff, we still needed to find some dinner. We got to bed later then we wanted and the dorm beds left a lot to be desired. I would not do that again! The only good part is they were really close to the start line.

I really didn't sleep much and the 4:45 alarm came very early. Up, stuffed half a bagel and pb down (it wasn't toasted and was hard to swallow), then headed down to the start. We met up with everyone else from the group, dropped our bags off at the truck for our rest stop and after Graeme changing his tire, and then a flat, we were rolling at 5:50am.

The first hour and a bit out of Seattle was very congested. The route goes past a couple lakes along the Seattle Marathon course. You really had to watch the riders as it was obvious not everyone was a good rider. We made our way through the packs and eventually the bikes thinned out a bit. We decided to stop at the first rest top for a bathroom break as none of us had wanted to wait in line at the start line. The volunteers at this stop were the best of the weekend. All wearing matching tuxedo shirts and high energy. I had some food here, and felt way more awake.

We didn't stay too long and started rolling again and it was COLD. We picked up the pace as we were all trying not to freeze. Where was the sunshine that had been forecasted for the entire weekend?? The route is a combination of main roads, side streets, and then leading up to the halfway point in Centralia, a long bike path. After the first rest stop our group split up, with Graeme and I, and another couple from the tri club, joining up with a few random guys and getting a good paceline going. I was a little worried with the speed and wondering how I would hold up all day, but it was good.

By the time we got to the bike path, it was down to the four of us. The path is too narrow to do a real paceline, but we still were passing people, cautiously, as we had seen a number of crashes. That is one of the most interesting parts. The entire time you are passing really slow people. How did they get that far in front of us??

We got into Centralia and had lunch there. That is the midpoint and where most people stay over night. After regrouping and eating lunch, we headed out again, as we had another 40km to do. Well, it turned out to be more, as there was a detour which was not noted! The place where we were staying is actually slightly off the STP route, and it's not marked. At all. As 2 of the girls had stayed there last year, we knew where to go. Until the detour happened. We found our way around it, but it added another 10km or so onto the ride.

The sun had started to come out at Centralia and the afternoon was really nice. Because the place we were staying is not on the actual route, the last section of Saturday was mostly open roads with hardly any other cyclists. We got in to Toledo around 3:30pm - the first to arrive at the school. 207 kms done, in 7:19 of ride time.

The afternoon was about relaxing and waiting for the spaghetti dinner, which was at 5. After eating, we headed down to the local pub for a few drinks which was quite the experience. After a couple drinks, Graeme and I headed back for some rest. Unfortunately, sleeping on the classroom floor was not much better than the dorm room, and once again, I didn't get much sleep!

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