According to an email I received from the folks at the Cascade Bicycle Club, it’s almost time for a big bike ride I’ve alluded to in a few blog posts. That bike ride happens to be the Seattle to Portland ride, often known as STP. It’s a 206-mile ride in which 10,000 awesome, possibly insane people ride bicycles from Seattle to — you guessed it — Portland. According to my work Outlook calendar and the messages with friends, yes, the trip is rapidly approaching. Never mind the fact that I’m under-trained — how about all the prep for the actual event?! Let’s see here…
- Unpack from July 4 weekend shenanigans. Do laundry. Pack a lot of bags.
- Do all the normal pre-trip stuff, such as stopping the mail, watering the plant, paying the bills, taking out the trash, running the dishwasher, unplugging some appliances.
- Drive to Seattle. This was a mild decision-making circus of its own, which at one point involved a refundable Amtrak ticket and a friend driving one way. But the decision was finally made that I would drive north for many hours on Thursday, with a stop/stay in Portland for one night.
- Oh, right, find a place to stay in Portland on Thursday night.
- Meet up with a friend in Portland on Friday morning.
- Drive from Portland to Seattle, meet up with Michaela, go to ride check-in.
- Eat early dinner.
- Charge Garmin and phone.
- Don’t oversleep, because we want to start early Saturday, since it’s supposed to get hot and we’ll be riding for a Very Long Time.
Ride Day 1:
- Liberally apply sunscreen and chamois cream.
- Put on shorts, sports bra, jersey, gloves, helmet, sunglasses, socks, bike shoes. If needed, wear arm and knee warmers.
- Fill two water bottles with Gu Roctane and water.
- Fill jersey pockets with 10 gels, two more packets of Gu Roctane drink, phone (in ziplock bag), ID/credit card/cash (also in a ziplock bag), sunscreen, travel-sized chamois cream.
- Top off air in tires, and make sure my travel pump is securely in place. Make sure my bike bag contains two spare tubes, tire levers and multi-tool.
- Fasten race bib to jersey and number to bike/helmet/wherever it’s supposed to go so they let me into the military base along the route.
- Drop two nights’ bags at the start line, making sure my phone/Garmin chargers are in the first night’s bag.
- Actually start riding after all of this.
- Eat a Gu gel every 10 miles, most of them non-caffeinated. Yes, this sounds insane to some people, but it works for me and solid food does not. (I get light-headed, apparently because my body is too busy digesting food, rather than sending blood to my head.) Eat some fruit at the rest stops.
- Get through two bottles of Gu Roctane by mile 50, preferably with additional water by then, too.
- Keep drinking. Use the port-a-potties to encourage myself to drink (TMI?).
- Reapply sunscreen. And chamois cream (maybe TMI, but it’s also something important).
- Stop somewhere around mile 100, get night bag from a truck, find our hotel.
- Probably discover that I didn’t pack something. Since we do not have a car and are tired, oh well!
- Eat dinner.
- Charge Garmin and phone.
Ride Day 2:
- Wake up and ask myself why I thought it was a good idea to get back on my bike for a repeat of yesterday.
- Repeat steps 1-6 and steps 8-12 from Day 1.
- At some point, reach a low point and throw a hissy fit, which I will feel terribly about for a long time afterward.
- Arrive in Portland. Promptly take a terrible finish-line photo and post it to every possible social media outlet.
- Drop bike off at a truck, in exchange for my bags and some food.
- Make our way to the hotel, probably via Uber or cab.
- Find an alcoholic beverage. And food.
- Return to the finish line Monday morning, to board a bus that takes us back to Seattle.
- Get off the bus three hours later, retrieve bikes, and thank Michaela profusely for having a bike rack that holds two bikes, and for buying parking so we don’t have to ride a few miles with all of our stuff.
- Do laundry. Oh, blessed laundry. (I love doing laundry. Yes, I am weird.)
- Actually do NOT get on the bike.
- Remember that I have another rapidly disappearing countdown, which requires that I go for a run.
And that only takes me through the first five days of the epic adventure that has become “STP and beyond.” The next part of the trip ranges from what will hopefully be my first jet ski adventure to the sadness of finally seeing my fire-ravaged hometown. (Who there wants to put me up for a night, too?)
I’m already tired after writing all this.