2004 STP Trip Report


Left Seattle July 17 6AM
Arrived Winlock July 17 4PM
Left Winlock July 18 6:15 AM
Arrived Portland, OR July 18 2PM
Mileage: 205
On-bike average speed first half: 17.7mph
On-bike average speed second half: 15.7mph

Stops: Kent, Spanaway, Yelm, Tenino, Centralia, Winlock, Vader,
Lexington, Longview, St. Helens (OR), Portland City limits.
Detailed route map
Weather: Temps from lower 60s to lower 90s. Saturday: morning sun,
afternoon clouds. Sunday: morning clouds, afternoon sun. Headwinds
Sunday morning. Here is a graph showing elevation and temperature.


Ride details:
I did the two-day version of the STP this year. Carol and Nona, two
women from my office, invited me to join them. Carol is a bike racer.
Nona’s mostly a runner — she was even in the New York marathon this
spring — and is very athletic. I was flattered that they asked me to
join them, but felt insecure about it too. Sort of like a junior high
school thing, where, maybe I get invited to have lunch at the sosh
kids’ table, but then feel awkward about it. I had never ridden with
them before — they’ve done a couple of long rides, including last
year’s STP, together.

Nona said that I shouldn’t worry about being slower than her — that
she had just had three weeks of bronchitis (true) and hadn’t been
riding at all (true) for at least two months.

Friends, this is called a sucker punch. Carol and Nona were incredibly
fast. They can lead a paceline at 22 mph and not think much about it.
They seemed to think I could just catch their wheel, and I’d be going
22 mph too. Yes, maybe for an hour’s ride, I might be able to. But
when you’re talking about riding a couple hundred miles, that pace for
me is unsustainable. I can paceline at 19 – 20, and I can ride alone
at 17 or so for that distance. But not 22-24, which is more where
these ladies were.

We met at the Winlock luggage truck at about 5:40 AM. I was aiming for
5:30, but there was an incredible traffic jam to get into the parking
lot. By the time we were completely collected and out of the chute, it
was 5:55 AM.

We sped off and were keeping together initially without too much
difficulty. We stopped at Kent (mile 24), and then took off again. We
were pretty much together until the Puyallup Hill (mile 42). Carol and
Nona waited for me to make it to the top, and then they took off to
Spanaway (mile 55). They said when I pulled in at about 9:15 AM that
they had not been waiting long.

After Spanaway, it was clear that I was not going to even try to keep
up with Carol and Nona. I was pretty much riding on my own. Carol took
a number of small breaks along the way, so sometimes I’d catch up to
them, we’d meet briefly, and then they’d take off again.

I prefer pacelining with people I know. One of the nicest aspects of
STP last year, or Flying Wheels this year, was riding with my husband.
I know how he rides pretty well at this point, and so when either
pulling or being pulled, I feel like we’re a pretty good team.

However, I also don’t mind working with others