As you might imagine, most of my focus right now is on the Seattle to Portland. Here it is Thursday before the big ride, and I am as ready as I will ever be! This will be my third time riding this ride and the second time going the entire 206 miles in one day.
This is one of those rides that is legendary around Seattle. I’d been hearing about it since I was in high school, and it had been on my “Someday I will” list ever since! Even though back then I had never ridden more that 10 or 15 miles at one time in my life. When I switched from trying to climb mountains to riding the bike, this was first on my list.
I decided to get everything ready the night before, so I could be at the starting line before 5 AM. Bike was loaded, and I had the water bottles in the fridge so they would stay cold! The alarm went off, I was dressed, bike loaded, and heading down the road eating my bagel sandwich, and ready for the ride.
I was about half way there on I-5 when I looked in the rearview mirror and realized I had forgotten said water bottles in the fridge!!!! OK Decision time! Do I go and just buy water bottles at the first store I come to? Or do I turn around. I turned. Sped home, got the bottles and headed back, just in time to get into the CRUSH of traffic all trying to get to the starting line. I got there closer to 6 than to 5!
I got parked, grabbed my over night bag and went in search of the correct truck to throw it into (There is a truck for each overnight location, and I was heading for Chehalis, 110 miles away). I found it, then got to the the start, pointed my nose south and off I went! Soon after I passed a guy doing the ride on a large unicycle! (tougher man than I am!)
Funny, I only remember snippets of that ride. I made sure to skip the first rest stop as it was mobbed. In Kent, a guy in an antique COUG car asked where we were all going when I stopped for a red light, and the “BIG HILL” south of Puyallup everyone was worried about was nuthin, I didn’t even work up a sweat!
About 10 miles outside of the Centralia, the halfway point, I hit a newly repaved, road when it was about 85 degrees, and that black road was sucking down the heat. That was the most miserable spot of the first day for me! However, when I hit the Centralia stop, the creamcicle ice cream bar I was handed was THE best I’d ever had!
I made it to the Park in Chehalis, grabbed my gear and set up the tent.
Then I headed off to Denny’s for food. As I passed the Hotel across the street there was a “Vacancy” sign. it took a minute to register, as historically these hotels are booked a year in advance that sign had to be a mistake!
I walked in and was told, there is a smoking room for $150 and a non for $175. BOOM went the credit card! Being the cheap SOB I went for the smoking, thinking “How bad could it be?” I walked in and it REEKED, couldn’t do it. So I ran back and got the bigger room (with jacuzzi tub!) Then I went to Denny’s for a big dinner (with a HUGE piece of carrot cake!)
Afterwards, I went back, took down my tent, reassured the guy next to me that he hadn’t encroached on me at all, and had a great restful night and a long hot shower in the morning. It made getting on the bike SO much easier.
I was worried about saddling up day two, but there were no issues at all. During my second STP I realized I had blocked out one serious climb going into Napavine. I remember the down hill, but even now, I can’t remember the climb before it.
Just outside a the tiny town of Vader I watch a guy about a quarter-mile ahead of me smack into the back of a pickup parked on the side of the road. No idea how he didn’t see it, and the impact flipped him into the bed of the truck. No idea if he ever finished the ride.
The crossing of the Columbia River was surreal. They funnel the riders into a holding area until there are ‘enough’. The police then close the lane and we are herded over the bridge by motorycles. RIGHT at the top of the bridge, my chain dropped off (only time I ever remember that happening.) I had to pull over, without having someone hit me and cause a pile up, fix it, and keep going before traffic started again! Just made it.
I had 45 miles to go once I hit Oregon, but by then I was starting to drag ass. I’d only ever ridden one Century ride, and that had been a month prior to this. To do two back to back century days was hurting me. With 30 miles left, I spotted a Safeway and pulled out the emergency stop. A Milky Way, a Three Muskateers and a DMD! (Diet Moutain Dew) all downed within 7 minutes!
The sugar and caffeine rush kicked me in gear and got me through the last 30 miles! However, at 202 miles was a gawd awful hill that damn near broke me. I remember shouting “Who’s stupid idea was it to put a hill on the route at 202 miles!?!” Yes people looked at me strangely for that.
However, someone musta heard me, because on my second trip. They rerouted us, adding a couple of miles overall, but much easier on the riders!
As you can see, I was a bit happy when I came in sight of the finish line!
The next hour was a blur of finding my gear, taking a shower in a semi-truck trailer, loading the bike onto another semi, and then getting my butt on a bus for the LONG ride home. I didn’t give myself time to enjoy the festivities, add that to the boring bus ride home, and I ended not knowing if I’d do this ride again.
Obviously the second time was better, because the day after tomorrow, I am the wind! Wish me luck!!!