Seattle to Portland (STP) – part I

I finished the two-day version of STP (Map, annotated altitude Profile, Preride Guide)
and lived to tell about it. Woot!

Saturday Left Seattle at 4:05 a.m. Arrived in Castle Rock, WA, at 4:30 p.m.
139.8 miles, 2,559′ ascent
Average speed 13.0 mph.
Sunday Left Castle Rock at 5:15 a.m. Arrived in Portland, OR, at 10:47 a.m.
67.3 miles, 1,339′ ascent
Average speed 12.0 mph
Overall: 207.1 miles, 3,898′ ascent
12,166 calories burned*.
Among the things I consumed: 10 Clif bars, 20 Trader Joe’s/Stretch Island fruit leathers, 2 Rice Krispie Treats, 1 quart bag of homemade “gorp“, curry veggie wrap, and 5 gallons of various fluids.
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I spent all day Friday getting my stuff packed and bike ready. (I suppose this is appropriate since I am riding a Bike Friday. Nyuk, nyuk.)
I normally avoid making major equipment changes on event rides, but I had already accumulated 400 miles on my Schwalbe Stelvio tires — about 100 miles before they started giving me problems last time. I put on a new pair of Primo Comet Kevlars, cleaned the drivetrain and polished the frame. I was glad I took it for a quick spin around my neighborhood because I forgot to attach the front brake. (D’oh!)

I had hoped to go to bed by 6:00 p.m., but it took a lot more time to implement some of the ideas I had to minimize time stopped. For example:

  • Preloading the maps. The map packet is about 1 1/2″ wider than my map holder. The graphic depiction is on a different page than the textual description. This bugs me. Displaying both pages uses up a lot of space. The solution was to print the maps scaled down to 70%, two pages per sheet of paper. To get rid of the margins, I manually cut them off with scissor and taped the pages so I had map and directions on the same side. (The time savings is not fumbling around, dropping maps, etc.)
  • I love the Stretch Island fruit leathers, but opening the package while riding requires a lot more coordination than I am willing to provide. I also hate having to stow the sticky wrapper. Solution: open all of the ones I expect to eat, cut the leathers in half, and toss them in a Ziploc bag.
  • I generally like the taste and texture of Clif Bars. In addition to the wrapper disposal problem, the bars themselves are very heavy Then I eat whole ones while riding, they bounce around in my stomach, in a very unpleasant way. I could stash it in my jersey, but there’s something creepy about a sticky mass in my back pocket. So, I cut a bunch into nice, 1/4 bar chunks and stored them in a quart size Ziploc bag.

I finished loading up the car at 8:00 p.m. My wife tried keeping the kids at bay until their normal bed time. Unfortunately, the youngest found her +3 Ring of Meltdown and was upset about something. I wrapped the pillow around my skull even tighter, trying to concentrate on the pulsating of the box fan in the window. I didn’t fully doze off, but it was restful.

Everyone finally calmed down and went to sleep around 10:30. Or at least I did. Four hours later, I woke up. I quickly calculated that my alarm was not due to go off for another 30 minutes. This is a sleeping no-man’s land. A full, restful cycle is about 90 minutes. If I can’t get that, it’s probably not worth trying. On the other hand, it’s still 2 in the (bad word) morning. Everybody else in the neighborhood is asleep, why not me, too? I must be have sort of subliminal lateness defense mechanism because this preempting the alarm happens a lot.

I tried to go back to sleep until the alarm officially rang. Every few minutes, I’d wake up in a pseudo-panic that I slept through. Only 4 minutes had elapsed. At 2:17 a.m., I gave up the pretense of more sleep, got out of bed, and turned off the alarm to spare the rest of the family from KPLU’s soothing jazz.

I forgot to plan breakfast! All of the breakfast cereals in my house are ultra-fibre varieties. One of the randonneurs suggested this might be the reason I’ve experienced gastric distress on the last few rides. We were also out of oatmeal, even the sugary kind that masquerades itself with taglines like “nutrition for kids.” I made pancakes. Good pancakes.

With near zero traffic this time of night, it took me only 22 minutes to drive to the University District. UW’s “E Lot” is even more immense when it’s pitch black outside. I found the start by honing in on the line of porta-potties.

The one-day STP was my “stretch” goal. I brought my bike light in anticipation of a late night arrival in Portland, but I also hedged my risk with a cancellable hotel in Portland and a spot in the gymnasium in Castle Rock HS. Since we can bring two bags, I sent one to Castle Rock and another to Portland. In each bag was a note to myself “Congratulations, you made it!”

The luggage trucks weren’t there, but someone had set up sandwich boards with each stop. I dropped the bags in front of the appropriate sign then tried to think of anything I might be forgetting. Since this isn’t a race, and everybody’s going to pass me sooner or later anyway, there didn’t seem to be much point in hanging around for another 45 minutes for the official start. I set up my headlight system, and started riding.

(Continued in part II, which I’ll post Tuesday. I’m sleepy 😉

6 thoughts on “Seattle to Portland (STP) – part I”

  1. Hi Jim

    I saw the profile of STP. Pretty cool stuff. I have a few questions. You show “The Hill” as 6.0%, 4.2% grade, 220′ gain. What does that all mean? I would guess that 220′ gain means we rose 220′ feet in elevation. What does the 6.0% and 4.2% mean? How do you figure this stuff out? I have in the back of my mind a project to categorize the hills of Seattle. I would like to do elevation gain and percent grade, but I have no idea how to do this. I volunteer at CBC and I’m going to talk to someone there about it, but if this information already out there, I would love to see it.


    Mike Rice

    Thanks for your help.

  2. > 6.0%, 4.2% grade, 220′ gain – what does this mean

    Ah, my bad. The original intent was to show the hill is two chunks, a 6% grade of 220′ followed by a smaller, 4.2% grade of 60′. I neglected to put the second label on, which caused confusion. I cleaned up the image to simplify things.

    I carry a Polar S710 heart rate monitor that records altitude. The user interface is weird, but to do this, I tell it I’m doing “laps.” It records altitude change, slope, and temperature. (You’ll see the little red vertical lines just above the axis.) In this case, I did two “laps” on the hill as it changed grades. When I mouse over, it shows me the info.

    I also carried a GPS with me, though I’m having some difficulty extracting the information at the moment.

  3. Hi Jim,

    I kept looking for you, but never saw you. I didn’t end up starting until 5:20am and may have passed you at the Napavine or Winlock rest stops (about the right time). You arrived in Portland about an hour before I did on Sunday (I was meeting the two day riders from my ‘club’ and handing out ice water [see below]) and were probably already gone.

    I made it in One Day!! (though it was getting pretty dark by the time I arrived).

    Depart Seattle 5:20am
    ” Spanaway 9:14am
    ” Centralia 12:30pm (101.5 miles, 17.6mph avg)
    ” Lexington 4:32pm
    ” St. Helens, OR 7:05pm
    Arrive Portland, OR 8:55pm (104.5 miles, 16.0mph avg)

    Overall 12:16 Riding Time (206.2 mi/16.8mph avg)
    15:35 Total Time

    Comments: The new Litespeed performed flawlessly, no flats, no mechanical trouble. If I ever do one day again though, I’ll add some basic triathlon bars as you need extra position options on such a long ride.

    No real aches and pains except for my left knee coming into Spanaway. As usual, it went away after the rest stop and never returned. No saddle sores, thank God for chamois cream!!!

    I didn’t have a riding partner which allowed me to control my own pace/schedule, but also didn’t give me somebody to pull me through the inevitable bad stretches. I had planned to minimize my rest stop time, but found it harder to do as the day wore on and it got hotter. A buddy of similar speed would have helped.

    I wasn’t able to pick up as many pacelines as I thought I might. Either they were too fast, or the groups were so large (>10) that they became dangerous.

    After 175 miles, the same rest stop food of watermelon, oranges, grapes, potatoes, bagels and peanut butter gets REALLY old. After looking over the spread at St. Helens (the last food stop), I ended up snagging some fruit and riding back one block to the Burgerville for a plain burger and ICE WATER!! It was ~90

  4. I should have added that this was my 3rd STP. I did two-day rides in both 2001 and 2003, stopping in Winlock both times.

    Tim Fellows (#191)

  5. Some numbers from Cascade:
    8,051 riders – including volunteers and safety riders
    1,845 riders completed the trip in one day. At 23%, that

  6. The smartest thing I read here was the two bags thing, with one bag to Portland, the other to Castle Rock. I always wondered how people worked it when they say they might complete the whole thing in one day, but maybe not. I felt a big “d’oh!” when I read this.

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