Gearing up for the STP


Written by: Cheryl



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.
No comments, Be the first to leave one
Subscribe Me!

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.

Have you done the STP? Any tips for new riders?
Have you done the STP? Any tips for new riders?x

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.


The Night before the Ride

If you’re not showing up bright and early on Saturday morning, you can stay overnight close to the start of the route. The dorms at the UW offer lodging for STP participants. If you book very early, you might find a nearby hotel if a dorm stay is not your thing. They also offer parking and gear drop off (for an extra fee) starting on Friday night.

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. Lodging is camping in the college (Cascade will port your sleeping bag and other gear there for you) or there’s an outdoor area where you can pay a premium price and they’ll set up a tent, bedroll, and sheets fo you. 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 ((in part due to my own stupidity)), 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 map does not show much:

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?

How Can I Get Back?

Aside from riding your bike back ((No thank you!)) 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 ((and my husband’s ebike weighs 50lbs+)) 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.

STP Via Ebike?

This is a later addendum to this post. Earlier in it, I mentioned my “stealth ebike;” a lightweight road-style ebike which is something I NEVER thought I would buy. Stealth, because it does not obviously scream “ebike!” But, sadly, it didn’t work out — I found that drop bars are, for me, a thing of the past and I ended up with a bike that I love that definitely screams “Ebike.”

But this threw me into a delay with getting ready for this years’ STP and I had to cancel (NEXT YEAR!) I needed to verify that this bike, with its two batteries could get to at least 100 miles, and I was unable to entirely verify that before the cancellation cutoff.

So CAN one do the STP on an ebike? This might be the topic for another post, after I’ve actually done it. But the answer is “yes.”

Cascade allows class one and two ebikes — but I’ve seen reports of people doing it on a Specialized Creo which is definitely a Class 3 bike in every version.

Certainly, you need to know what kind of mileage your bike can get, bring extra batteries if necessary, and know that you have a place to plug in.

Also keep in mind that if you, like I do now, have a very heavy ebike you won’t be able to get it back on the train.

Cascade reassured me via various emails, that they are fully prepared, if you purchase their transport back to Seattle, to handle any ebike that comes their way. They also said, despite their website cautioning about the number of outlets at Centralia, that I should have no trouble finding an outlet.

Sadly, I won’t be able to report on this to you this year.

Have you done the Seattle to Portland bike ride on an ebike? How did it go, and can you offer any advice?
Have you done the STP? Any tips for new riders?x

How many cups of hot coffee does this deserve?

Click on a mug to rate it. To leave a written review use the comment section or, in the shop, use the reviews tab.

This post got 5 mugs out of 3 votes.

No votes so far! Be the first to rate it.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are so sorry that you found this post like a weak cup of swill!

Leave some feedback about why.

Let us know why you gave this post a low rating. We may or may not share your feedback with the post's author. If you want to leave public feedback, leave a comment.

Get New Bike Posts by Email

Subscribe to our monthly "Bike Hub" newsletter and get notified of new cycling posts and routes. This form will ONLY sign you up for bike content. IF you'd like to sign up for other content you can do that here.
You can unsubscribe at any time you wish from a link in the footer of email newsletters that we send.
You might also be interested in:
Washington State Cycling Laws and Rules image of female cyclist on a road bike

Washington State’s Cycling Rules of the Road

If you cycle in Washington State, there are some rules that every cyclist should know. Continue reading to discover what they are and why they are important.

stick figure cyclist with pedal having fallen off for the my bike pedals fell off post

My Pedal Fell Off My Bike!

I was recently in an accident and (mildly) injured because my bike pedal fell off. Why did it happen? And how can you prevent it from happening to you?

bike radar devices featured image

Do you need bike radar? No…but after you get it, you might not want to go back.

Bike radar devices can make you feel safer if not actually be safer. Let's take a look at some of the major bike radar devices available on the market.

Subscribe to comment notifications
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedback
View all comments

Subscribe by Email

Want to keep up with our crunchy granola-like mixture of variable content? Subscribe here, and we'll send you a weekly digest of new stuff from our site, a monthly newsletter of upcoming events from our calendar, and occasional multi-content newsletters.
If you'd like to subscribe to other, specific, content areas, you can do that here.
You can unsubscribe at any time you wish from a link in the footer of email newsletters that we send.
Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

Manage push notifications

notification icon
Opt in to get browser notifications for new posts or for member notifications.
notification icon
Please wait...processing
notification icon
Opt in to get browser notifications for new posts or for member notifications.
notification icon
Please wait...processing