Time flies! It seems like just the other day I was barely starting to get comfortable riding my bike again after many months of focusing on marathon training. Suddenly Seattle to Portland (STP) is only a week away.
STP is 206 miles. That’s two back-to-back centuries, roughly 103 miles each day!
I’m riding my bike daily, averaging about 35 miles a day over the past few weeks. However, I haven’t been able to do enough of the really long training rides that I’d hoped to do. I’ve only done three rides over 50 miles. There simply haven’t been enough spaces on the calendar to fit in enough long rides.
The other day CFL and I finally managed to ride a significant distance together… 71 miles. Not the 90+ miles I’d wanted to do to feel confident that I can ride 100 miles, but it will have to do. We finished our ride feeling good. I’m further buoyed by the fact that we did that ride just two days after we rode up to Hurricane Ridge.
The road up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park (which we locals call “backyard national park”)is considered one of the classic cycling climbs in the country. From my house, it is 5,100+ feet of elevation gain in 19 miles. That’s a big deal, and I came though it feeling GREAT! I felt much better at the top than I did a year ago, when I’d given myself a 6-mile head start by driving up to the Olympic National Park gate rather than simply riding from home.
Coming down was kind of scary, though. Not because I didn’t feel confident of my ability to handle my bike at 30+ MPH on a narrow mountain road. My bike and I handled the curves just fine. The problem was that we went through a layer of fog/mist on the way down. The temperature plummeted and I started to shiver uncontrollably, which produced some interesting wobbles on the bike. I was actually experiencing mild hypothermia. We stopped at the campground at the park gate, where I held my hands under the hand dryer in the restroom for at least five minutes, until I could begin to feel them again and my shivering arms and legs settled down. From there I was able to safely ride the last 6 miles, bursting back into the sun just as we reached the city limits.
Lesson learned. No matter how warm the day may seem, I won’t ride up there again without carrying WARM layers for the ride down.
Anyway, at this point I’m about as ready for STP as I’m ever going to get. I figure that once we get on the road, we’ll be carried along by adrenaline and the combined energy of the nearly 10,000 other cyclists riding with us.
We’ll be among the slower riders, but we’ll finish. Slow and happy, one pedal stroke at a time!