Seattle to Portland – STP done!Posted by Rob DeMone
Team Rogue colours have been magnificently represented at the epic STP ride – the 204-mile Seattle-to-Portland journey that is the latest jewel in the Rogue Crown.
Four of us sported the Rogue kit at the start of the ride – after losing Gen. Mike Vipond to a training crash. Gen. Mike – in true team spirit – surprised us all by showing up at Seattle Friday night, with Sharon at his side.
We were a spry crew meeting at 4 a.m. to get to the 4:45 a.m. start. Evil Eric Amey, Andrew Freckles Brink, Delicate Don Gray and I were among 2,000 riders to launch bids for the coveted 1-Day Rider badge.
As is to be expected on a ride of that magnitude, we experienced a litany of challenges. Early morning darkness; skittish riders, damp switchbacks, dodging dropped water bottles… And that was just the first 10 miles. The most challenging bit for me was miles 100-140, when we were hit with a series of rollers – nothing steep or long, but just relentless. That, coupled with the nagging thought in my head that I’d never ridden that far, served to beat me down a bit. I didn’t beat myself up too bad when I flagged on the hills, though. Others around me were feeling the toll as well.
It helped to call on wise words from a couple of folks – you know who you are – who told me if I feel daunted, to take a gel, or pop a gummy. The spike in glucose did wonders.
While the 4 of us had decided before the start of the ride that we would do it as a team, it became apparent in fairly quick order that Andrew and Eric were the better of the four of us – who would have thought it?! So in unspoken fashion they rode off to play with faster lads, and DD and I toiled away at a more manageable pace for us. We met at Centralia for the 100-mile rest stop, and again at the 145-mile stop, where Paula Brink (who wins the Prize Supporter badge for driving our gear to the rest stops) was joined by Laura Gray and the Lovely Miss Vickie – I swear that woman makes my heart trip when I see her in a crowd…
We spent way to long at the 145-mile stop, chowing down, even changing into a dry kit. Good thing, though, as the heat of the day was due to set in. After riding the first 100 miles in about 5 hours, I was about to finish the last 60 in just under 4.
I’ll be forever grateful to Evil for changing my flat (our only mechanical of the day!!) just after the 145-mile stop. I’m sure I could have managed, but it would have taken me 3x as long as it took him, and gave me chance for a “nature break”. We rode as a team for the next 10 miles to the Lewis and Clark Bridge. That climb took a toll too, and I lost Evil and Freckles over the top – didn’t see them again until very briefly at the 176-mile rest stop.
The hills, the heat, the distance mounted, and I did my usual negotiations with myself, computing in my head the best possibles. “If I carry 15 mph, I can finish before 7 p.m. – still be light out… OK – I can live with that. Just finish before dark…” Delicate Don and I did some assessments, and decided we’d try to hold pace at 18-19 mph over the last 40 miles. As the heat of the afternoon settled in, and the stretches of road and headwinds into Portland took their toll on body and spirit, we made more adjustments. We stopped at 20, then 10 miles to go, gelling and stretching and mustering our faculties for the next assault. While we stood at the roadside with 10 miles to go, I said to Don: “You know, this is like walking at 24-miles in a marathon…”
Eric crossed in 10 hours and change, and Andrew shortly after. I would proudly drive a support car for them next year to see how fast they could champion that course if they set their minds to posting a time. I think 9-hours is doable for them. Don, gawd-love-him, put his fit and able frame into the wind on the endless flats into Portland, and dragged me through some tough bits. We crossed in 11:14 ride time – and would have made it before 6 p.m. if not for traffic lights coming into the city. We hit every freaking red light.
And so, it is done. Averaged 17.8 mph. for the 204-miles. And at dinner Saturday night when we’re sitting exhausted and weary and laughing and euphoric and awash in camaraderie, we began to mull over what the next epic challenge will be.
Oh – and that bit about exhausted… Evil didn’t look exhausted. He looked like someone who had taken a tentative sniff of pungent caviar, liked the taste, and wanted more. He’ll do it again, and he’ll shine.
Me? I’m not so sure. I like Gen. Mike’s assessment of the STP: If you did it in 2 days, you’d want to do it in 1 – just to see if you could. Well, I did. And I can. And sometimes, doing something that hard, once, has got to be enough.
Big props to Evil and Andrew for their yeoman’s work on the road. They pull like freakin champions, and were gathering cheers and accolades from the scores of riders – and I do mean scores – who would line up behind them to catch the train. Between the two of them (Don and I took turns at the front – just to hold the Rogue colours) they pulled a train of two dozen riders for 15 miles at one stretch. It was incredible to be part of something like that.
Until then, be safe on the road.