Well ladies and gents, let’s go into the Way Back and machine and dial-up 4 years ago this weekend. In 2014, late on Saturday night, our hero, rolled across the finish line in Portland.
It was the 2014 Seattle to Portland, I had ridden 200 miles in some seriously brain frying heat. I look pretty spry here, but 10 minutes later…
I looked more like a zombie! In all honestly, I had planned be done with that ride! I said never again.
Then 2018 hit…
My cycling buddy Rob, famous from the Oregon coast ride of 2016
let me know his big goal for this year was a 1 day Seattle to Portland.
My first thought was, “Have fun with that!” But then I remember the word according to Maverick (Top Gun)
Rob is still a new rider (though he has an entire state to his credit!) and 200 miles in one day is something VERY few people will ever do. Shoot, not to brag, but most couldn’t do it! Plus, I know the route, and having someone along who does can help a lot for a first timer. So, when I was sure he was serious, it was time I signed up!
All the rides this year were training for the big one. The first big test was the Reach the Beach in May, Robs first Century.
After that success we knew it was happening!
Friday, my gorgeous sherpa Michelle and I loaded up and headed to Seattle.
Rob and his equally gorgeous sherpa Kim were coming up from Medford to meet us.
One of the benefits of my experience was the choice of Seattle hotels. I picked one right on Lake Union. Which meant that instead of making the ladies have to drive us to the starting line, we could take off from the hotel instead. OK it added 3 miles or so to the total, but when you plan to ride 206 in one day, what’s another 3…
After a pasta dinner and half a glass of wine the night before, we were ready to roll at 4 AM.
Now just an aside. 200 miles is a day is NOT easy. I will now admit, I was nervous. It was going to be HOT, and my longest ride to date, albeit with a LOT off hills and headwinds, was only 112. PLUS, we don’t get heat on the coast, so I was not sure how I would be affected by it.
I decided I needed a little ace in the hole, so I busted out the old Coug jersey! Last worn in 2015 on the RAMROD!
It is old, it is faded, but EVERY time I ridden this ride, it came with me. I took it out of retirement!
We started out strong, the weather was cool, and we had a tail wind. Along about 15 miles in, we picked up a little buddy. He had never ridden this before and wanted to do it one day. He asked if he could tag along at our pace. We were happy to let him. He stayed for a while. Then later we were leap frogging, taking turns passing each other.
We had decided to limit the stops, especially early on, so we could eat up as many miles in the cool early hours. Our little buddy seemed to stop at every stop.
About the 3rd time he passed us he told Rob, “Don’t you two EVER stop???”
We really hope he made it, but we never saw him again he said that…
Early on, we were killing it! The tailwind continued, it was cool and relatively flat. We were averaging WELL over 15 mph. (my normal on a good day is 12.5 mph) At our first stop in Spanaway for both food, water and outhouses I was feeling good! (though I did have helmet hair! )
Our hope for the morning was a stop every 50 miles. The halfway point is Centrailia. So we were hoping not to have to stop again until then. Our BEST case scenario (though funny we never discussed it) was that we would hit Centrailia at high noon. We figured that was when the heat would start to hit and slow us down.
We were wrong on both cases.
We hit at 11, an hour early. PLUS the heat was not bad yet. We cruised through town and on to Chehalis, where the one day rider foot stop was.
Just a bit of a rant, the food SUCKED! this time. Come on Cascade you can do better!
In Chehalis, somehow, I missed a Dan Henry marking
and we ended up off course. Luckily I know the town a bit, and we didn’t have to back track! One right turn after Safeway and we were back on the route!
100 miles is a big deal all by itself. On a 200 mile ride though, its the halfway point. And It means from there on you are on the count down, and count down we did!
Soon though, the heat did start to hit. Random homeowners were putting out bottles of water for those of us who were riding, gotta love that trail magic. Plus, kids were out with stands selling water and gatorade. With the heat rising, I stopped at one and gave kids $5 for a sandwich bag full of ice. I put it under my helmet for a preemptive strike on the heat. The trickling water helped a LOT!!
With the heat, we did have a stop more often. I didn’t want to get caught without water, so we had to stop to fill the bottles and the camelback backpack often. At 132 miles I was still going strong
Soon after this, the route stops with the flatness, and we end up with rolling hills. But scary enough, we were still cranking out the miles and at 15 mph. The tail winds were our friends!
The heat was rising though, so at the extra stops, I made a point to get doused by the water as well as. Here at Vader, I was still smiling, this was right after a cold hose shower!
The next milestone, right about 150 miles, is the bridge to Oregon in Kelso.
This is, no lie, the highest elevation point of the entire ride. But once on the other side, you are in Oregon.
However, the Oregon part is the UGLIEST part of the ride. It is about 50 miles on the very wide shoulder of highway 30. Very little shade, and early on, more rolling hills.
Rob, at times, had his head down (as I watched through the rear view mirror, but he was always right with me.
It was truly starting to get hot. But funny enough, it didn’t feel as hot as the last time. Or I was just in a bit better shape. But I was not feeling near as bad as last time. Though, the face at 170 miles was not the best.
However, with 30 miles less, the weather gods smiled! Some clouds came in and helped block the sun. Plus it was later in the afternoon, so it had gone down enough that there was a bit of shade.
Rob and I both just put out heads down and kept the legs moving. We knew the end was ahead of us. It was now just time to get there. Not much talk, just legs cranking pedals, and wheels eating up the miles.
I know I was watching the odometer and counting down each mile, I am pretty sure Rob might be doing the same.
But, we were still going strong, We had slowed, but damned if we weren’t moving along faster than I ever imagined. One rider passed us and said “You two are MONSTERS!! I keep having to pass you! You never stop!” No we don’t!
Finally, about 8 PM, we crossed the finish line! Rob’s 1st and my 3rd one day STP
I may not LOOK better in this shot than the last time, but I felt immensely better. I was walking without help, and able to have a full conversation.
We went and bought STP jerseys, and more importantly, the one day rider shirts
Ladies and gents, I won’t lie, I did a little prayer to the cycling gods asking them to bless our tires for the last 30 miles. Neither of us wanted to deal with a flat. Somehow it worked! We got across the line still rolling, but when Rob woke up the next morning, his rear tire was flat as a pancake! Somehow, the cycling gods kept the air in the tire long enough for us to finish!
Folks, never again! It’s a milestone ride I recommend to anyone who would want to try it, but it is an UGLY route and the last 50 is the worst of any ride I have ever done. I don’t care who rides it in the future, I will not.
But on Sunday morning, Rob and I were sporting our shirts. We were both one day riders, and damn proud of ourselves! He has joined the elite group that can and has done a double century.
Good job buddy! You rocked it!