STP

The route:

The last half of Saturday and first of Sunday were the most scenic. I can't say I would choose much of this route for scenery; Renton, Kent, Pullayup, and Spanaway ("Spam-away") were boring to ride through; the approach to Portland is along a fairly busy highway.

Efficiency:

Our first time, and relative novices, we took two days for the 204 miles, plus 6 miles to and from the start. We averaged 9 hours of road time each day, for 100 miles per day, or effectively 11 miles per hour. This was including breaks for food, rest stops, etc. On the road, we probably kept to about 15-16 miles per hour. Getting in and out of the rest stops certainly took a bit of time. The lines at the toilets were always quite long and simple tasks like locating water were mysteriously difficult.

Interestingly enough, a lot of the larger groups which passed us probably had the same effective time. It seemed like the faster the group, the larger their breaks were.

Food:

I've gotten used to the usual food stop fare: not-so-great bagels, not-so-great Jiffy peanut butter, oranges, bananas, apples, cheap granola or breakfast bars, and sponsor-supplied energy drinks and, if you're fortunate, sponsor-supplied energy bars. Hitomi and I have a cache of Japanese sports foods, such as Calorie Mate, FastBreak, etc., mixed in with dried squid and often chips. We brought lots of food along.

There really wasn't much great to eat along the way, or offered. There were some Clif Bars (one tiny "one per person only") and Odwalla protein drinks. I heard there was Chocolate milk supplied by a local Washington dairy. There were lots of volunteer and fund-raising drive "mini-stops" along the way, which offered mostly junk-food, like Cokes or candy bars, water at exorbitant prices.

Other Riders:

Being experienced with the Flying Wheels event, I kind of knew what to expect with a large group ride. Mostly, people rode safely, but there were exceptions, and I guess some of them got hurt. One group was hit by a drunk driver. I'm sure many were harassed as well. Some passed too closely, a few on the right. But we mostly got along.

For the kind of ride it was — long distance — there were a large number of knobby tires and other inefficient designs, for example: suspension forks, fixed or single-speed bicycles. But comfort was more important than speed. (I would have felt better with bigger tires and a more relaxed geometry. Going slowly on mine is harder on the arms, because I'm pushing all the time on the bars, not pulling.)

Hitomi did a good job, though flagged when it got hot and humid Saturday. I want her to go on to more challenging rides, because she is capable of a lot but won't see it unless she tries. Hopefully, I can talk her into some more scenic, but (inevitably) hillier rides.

The Future:

I can't say I will do the STP in the years to come, though it would be more fun with a group or maybe to take someone along on. I'd like to do the miles a little faster to get to the interesting parts, and possibly I'd do it in one day to be able to spend my Sunday enjoying Portland.

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About eliasross

Blogging before the word "blog" was invented.
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2 Responses to STP

  1. Adam Winks says:

    Have you checked out the Chilly Hilly ride? I think it's early spring, on Bainbridge island maybe? I can't remember which island, but it's one close to Seattle.
    The name says it all; it's chilly and hilly…without a doubt.

    -AW

  2. genman says:

    I haven't checked out Chilly Hilly. It's on Vashon Island, which is readily accessible by ferry. It's a said to be a good place to ride, probably because there's not a lot of traffic. The island is only accessible by ferry.

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