Tuesday, July 15, 2014

STP 2014

There was a man wearing a time trial helmet and skinsuit, carrying a bright orange messenger bag and riding a mountain bike.  He wasn't riding STP, but he would have fit in fine if he had.

One out of ten riders sported sleeveless jerseys and half of those wore arm warmers, exposing bare shoulders.  Many riders, even those on mountain bikes, had aero bars clamped on to their handlebars.  Many riders stopped on a dime, right in the bike lane, if they saw a "rest stop" sign or for no apparent reason at all.

Many more riders victoriously shouted  "on your left" as they passed, apparently assuming the presence of 11,000 other riders somehow necessitated a constant warning of their existence.  Most of these riders pulled over and immediately slowed way down in front of the rider they just passed.  Most bikes made an inordinate amount of noise.  Creaky bottom brackets, hollow-sounding carbon fiber wheels, little tick ticks, and of course, the unlubed chain chirp.

Aside from that, it was a glorious day.  Watching the sun rise over Lake Washington cannot be beat.  The morning was cool, but everyone knew the heat loomed ahead and hydration was key.  A few bored looking mechanics at the first rest stop, Seward Park, were happy to check headsets and tighten brakes for one lone single speed rider.

Up the nasty steep little hill after Seward Park and into south Seattle, if that's even what it's called.  Pass up the rest stops, and just stop, rando-style, at gas stations for juice and corner stores for snacks.  One such gas station was showing the Tour de France, anticipating that "you guys would wanna see that".
The beer garden at Centralia was its own small ghost town except for the masseuse taking a break there.  Alas, he couldn't escape the sore neck and shoulders needing his attention, all for the price of a beer.  Intoxication wears off fast when pedaling and sobriety hit in time for Chehalis, where the pool and showers were closed for construction.

Hot foot.  Sore tush.  Tight shoulders.  Blistered palms.  There were many sensations to choose from before even arriving at the Longview Bridge.  Climbing the bridge was an act of sheer control, as single speed riders find it as hard to go slow on the climb as they do to go fast on the descent.

Chips and soda.  Bonk bars.  Atomic fire balls.  Bottles and bottles of water and electrolyte drink.  Pedal, pedal, left, right, repeat, pedal.  Burgerville Saint Helens signifies the home stretch and a bottle full of raspberry milkshake is just the right fuel.

Sprinting past broken riders, passing the Sauvie Island sign, up and over the Saint John's Bridge.  Then the slow part, the neighborhoods of Portland.  Then the finish line, with lines of cheering spectators.  Number ten complete!  One day, one speed, one woman.

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