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Gearing up for the STP

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I'm hoping to finally check off one of my bucket list goals this year: the Seattle to Portland bike ride. We'll see! Here are some tips I've gathered from others about conquering this ride.

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Cheryl

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This Tuesday, member registration starts for the annual Seattle to Portland bike ride. I’ll be — tentatively — putting in my registration for this year’s ride.

I’m looking forward to the cycling season with both excitement and apprehension. So much excitement that I listed a bunch of cycling events on our events calendar here so I can keep track of them all myself. So many rides to choose from! The Tour de Lavender seems appealing. Wine ride? Yes, please! But the big one of them all — at least for me — has always been the STP.

I say I look forward to the season with excitement because I’ve been having a great time getting back on a road-style bike lately and going for rides. Apprehension, because when I was at the top of my cycling game several years ago sudden hip pain made me withdraw my STP registration, and I’m now older and with shoulder issues, but finding (so far) I can ride again. So there’s still a chance I will not meet this particular goal, but I’m going to try. And, if not, I’ll still have a great time doing shorter rides.

Is the STP Difficult?

While the STP is a 200-mile bike ride, I’ve interviewed various people I know who have done the ride who tell me I could do it “without much training.” I doubt this. You can choose to do the ride in one to two days. I choose two-day. A family member did it in one day and he described it as heads-down fast riding non-stop. Not my thing any longer!

But the ride? Not really that hilly! I previously did two metric century rides back to back — not as long of a distance, but MUCH more hilly than this ride. Here’s the course via Ride With GPS:

Not too intimidating if you’ve done more hilly rides. I remind myself that kids as young as 8 have done this ride and I recall of once hearing about a group who did the ride on beach cruisers. If they can do it, I can do it! Especially with stealth ebike power as my secret weapon!

Getting Ready for the STP

If you don’t have, and want more experience, group riding, Cascade Bicycle Club offers their annual Cascade Training Series with groups according to how intense you want to ride — it’s not all intense riding, you can join up with a slower-paced group if you want.

However, the groups are all Seattle and Eastside. If you’re like me and: 1) that’s not close enough 2) you enjoy going it solo and 3) you are a planner who likes an organized training plan, they also offer a spreadsheet with a suggested training plan for a two-day ride. They also often offer a couple of Zoom seminars on getting ready.

I doubt it’s necessary to be too strict on their training regimen. But I’d advise anyone to get a number of long rides accomplished to make sure both you and your saddle are ready, get some serious Chamois Butt’r (Yes, that’s an affiliate link, but I seriously recommend the stuff for long rides!), and have some experience riding with other people.

Logistics

Where am I going to Stay at the STP Halfway Point?

The halfway point of the STP is in the appropriately named Centralia. Many two-day riders sleep at Centralia College, which can be arranged on the registration website. There’s also some camping options south of there. The STP website also lists some other spots in the area, some in Chehalis, where riders can lodge.

A family member who did this reports that, for him, it was comfortable enough and, assuaging my concerns about the safety of my bike after being a vicitim of bike theft 1, he said they had a bike area with guards and he didn’t feel worried about his bike.

However, I’ve arranged hotel in case I can get my spouse to do this ride with me. If he doesn’t, I might just cancel and sleep at the college.

If you want to arrange hotel, you need to book far in advance.

This Centralia Booking.com map does not show much:

Booking.com

This map of Portland lodging near the finish line shows some lodging at the time I’m writing this, but how long will that last?

Booking.com

How Can I Get Back?

Aside from riding your bike back 2 or having your own driver to drive you and your bike back, you have a couple of options. I’ve not yet determined what I will do.

A STP-veteran family member tells me to take the train back, and this seems like the most fast and fun option — however, that means getting our bikes 3 back to the start point by UW.

Likely, we’ll arrange for bus transport back on Monday. Cascade Bicycle Club offers the option of purchasing bus and bike tickets back to the start point. Of course, your bike will be packed in with a bunch of other bikes, and no insurance is offered — but if you’re used to taking your bike on public transport, they also don’t guarantee your bike will be in pristine shape! If you’re concerned, you can always purchase coverage for your bike.

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  1. in part due to my own stupidity[]
  2. No thank you![]
  3. and my husband’s ebike weighs 50lbs+[]
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