I am freshly minted from my STP ride and alive enough to retell the details. The adventure began about 9pm on Friday night, when I started getting my bike ready in preparation for our 4:30am departure time the next morning. After about an hour of hustling up all the fixins of an STP travel pack, I took my bike out of the closet to make the final preparations for my 5 hours of rest before the ride. All I needed was to pump up these last two tires and… (sound of hissing air)…. what’s this? Ah, my front tired had popped as I was trying to inflate it to the recommended pressure. Foreboding.
After swapping one of my two spare tires I had bought for the race, I was feeling apprehensive about further flats. Thus far, I had traveled 0% of my miles and used 50% of my spares. Not a success-inducing tire/mile rate. One tire swap later, I got to sleep around midnight for a not-so-sumptuous four hours of rest before the ride.
Ride day began at 4am when I awoke, feeling as groggy and awful as a person waking up at 4am on ride day. We had planned to leave the house around 4:30 to get to the starting line at 5:00, but we were delayed on route, when the stingray in front of us killed a pedestrian. We found ourselves saddling up to the starting line at 6:05am, about an hour and a half after most of the one day riders had begun. My chances didn’t seem bright.
My goal had been to ride 15 mph over the course, stopping for a half hour lunch and whenever else was absolutely necessary. Excluding any mechanical complications or unpredicted fatigue, this would put me at the finish line around 8pm if we left at 5am. Leaving at 6am, I estimated that I had about 0 minutes of time available for complications of any kind if I wanted to arrive before nightfall at 9 pm. So I started peddling, and then I peddled some more, and so forth, until…
— High- and Low-Lights —
Milepost 1: Ouch! First girl on her way to the hospital. That looks like a painful wreck.
Milepost 2: Ouch! Second person on their way to the hospital. Note to self: don’t run into other bikers.
Milepost 3: Where are Jason, Shawna and the gang? Oh well, that 10 mph pace we started at will not be so conducive to finishing today anyhow. Off I go!
Milepost 5: Hey look at that beautiful sunrise coming up over Lake Washin— Ouch! That must not a good sign when a rider is being told by medics not to move their back or neck. Aw, and here comes the ambulence.
Milepost 15: My first set of drafters. An elderly couple who are riding at just my pace. Wait a minute, I’m riding at an elderly pace?
Milepost 20: My ass hurts. Am I really riding 183 more miles on this same ass?
Milepost 30: First rest stop. My elderly couple is stopping here but I haven’t the time. Off I go to attack the world alone.
Milepost 40: Ah, here is the fabled hill. This is fun. Lah dee dah dee doo. (ed’s note: actually, at the time, I had no idea there was a “fabled hill” or that this was it, but it certainly wasn’t very scary compared to most of the Flying Wheels hills we practiced on beforehand). What is this squeaking noise my bike is making?
Milepost 50: Holy crap is this one disgusting PBJ sandwich.
Milepost 75: My ass hurts. My wrist hurts. My knee hurts. Am I there yet?
Milepost 75: Oh but wait, this is the furthest I’ve ridden before, and still I soldier on. Woot woot!
Milepost 100: Ouch. I’m bored and in pain. My wrist doth protest. Riding one’s bike by themselves for seven hours is no pleasure in life. On the other hand, this spaghetti lunch is the most sumptuously delightful meal I think I have ever eaten. Oh, and these carrots! Yum! And this roll! This is a fantastic freaking roll!
Milepost 120: I’ve done it! I’ve reached the world’s largest egg! Oh, if only I could roll this egg off its pedestal, then I could eat the world’s largest scrambled egg. Yum, eggs.
Milepost 125: My wrist doth protest.
Milepost 140: This is boring. It’s probably beautiful, too, but all I notice really boring. No wonder I hated school so much. This is how my brain felt in class.
Milepost 150: Enough with the goddamn hills already. This is bad enough as is. I’m bored.
Milepost 165: Hmm… is this water coming from the bottom of my camelbag? Why yes, yes it is. Would that imply that the sheet that I was supposedly going to sleep on if I didn’t reach Portland tonight is soaking wet? Yes, yes it would. Well, I guess I’m on my way to Portland, then.
Milepost 185: Ah, dusk begins to settle. I had better get to Portland fast.
Milepost 190: Damnit! I think a bat just flew into my face.
Milepost 195: Ouch. My everything hurts.
Milepost 200: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…
Milepost 201: Where’s the finish line?
Milepost 202: Seriously, my odometer says 204 miles and we’ve been riding through Portland for at least two or three miles. Is this really necessary?
Milepost 203: Damn it. I hate everything.
Milepost 204: Damn it. I hate everything.
Milepost 204.4: Hey, I did it! 8:55 pm, right on schedule! Woo hoo! And what’s this, I get a patch? I’m totally coming back.
— Trip Statistics —
Total time of completion: About 15 hours
Average speed: 16-17 mph when moving
Total break time: About one hour
Worst part of trip: Wrist pain. Knee pain. Ass pain.
Other worst part of trip: Acute boredom.
Best part of trip: Waffles with strawberries, scrambled eggs, and sausage breakfast the morning after the race
Second best part of the trip: Domino’s pizza in bed at 12:30 after finishing
Third best part of trip: Spaghetti lunch at Centralia college
Fourth best part of trip: N/A
Riders seen being tended to by medics: 10-20
Bugs eaten: About 5
Flat tires (after starting): 0
Flat tires (before starting): 1
Other people seen riding mountain bikes after I hit 100 miles: 0
Song repeating in my head during most of the ride: Boss music from Super Mario Brothers 3
Recommend training regimen for other aspiring riders: 5 years in retail. This will teach you the necessary skills to be really bored for 10+ hours and not want to stab yourself in the face.