Friday, July 20, 2012
Yes, I was ready.
The 6:10 start was a good time to go.
Kept it slow, tried to stay away from crowds.
The first morning was cloudy, cool, and made it easy to ride, especially through the Kent Valley and up the supposedly dreaded Hill after the Puyallup rest stop, where I experienced the longest porta-potty lines of the weekend.
The worst part of the STP is that long straightaway down State Route 7 on the east side of Ft. Lewis. Lots of pickup trucks and hostile drivers. But, it was a good move to bypass the Spanaway food stop, and instead eat fast food at Jack-in-the-Box. For next time, and there will be a next time, wait for the Subway and Starbucks farther down on Pacific Highway South.
The best part of the ride begins when the route emerges from Ft. Lewis, enters Roy and Yelm farmland, and some other small towns. Nice farmland, but the urban sprawl from East Olympia is on the way. The route takes the peloton on the Yelm-Tenino trail, which is scenic but narrow, and where I saw a nasty wreck. Came across a rider dow holding her shoulder and in obvious pain. Take it easy folks, watch where you are going and be careful in crowds.
Centralia is about 100 miles down the route, and I made it there after 4:00. Riders were greeted with a spray shower and an orange creamsicle. I picked up my bag, got a massage to loosen the hamstrings and calves, and rode to the King Oscar motel, where there was a hot tub, swimming pool, comfortable room and a welcoming, bike-friendly atmosphere. After dinner at Casa Ramos, I returned to my room, turned on the M's on the TV, and then crashed for the night.
Day 2 began with King Oscar breakfast, eggs, raisin bran, fruit, bad coffee. Note to self - bring the single-shot drip filter and real java next time! Rough and tough start to the next 100 miles. Stomach was not quite right as I passed under the Centralia sign at 5:45. First the bag drop and then headed into the south wind toward Chehalis, where there was some free coffee, still bad. The next 20 miles were a grind, through scenic farmland and over some rollers to Vader and Winlock. At Winlock, the drizzle, wet road, headache and grumbly stomach got to me, so I stopped and got in line for a FFA breakfast sandwich and an Advil, plus the second longest porta-potty line on the trip. The stop went on too long, but food revived me, and I made it to Lexington, where a double Americano sustained me to the Longview Kelso bridge. Once we cleared the bridge, landed in Oregon, and the headwind became a tailwind.
That helped with the last 50 miles on the route, down US 30 and into Portland. Other than a stop at Burgerville in St. Helens, and the noise of riding down the side of the highway, that part was uneventful. Still, a fair number of riders seemed to take a tumble, run out of gas, and generally act tired. The route took us over the St. John's Bridge into North Portland, onto the PDX bike lane routes, where riders encountered Portlandia, and made it finally to Holladay Plaza, greeted by the over-the-top end of ride celebration. Like the day before, arrived a little after 4:00, after about 8 hours in the saddle. Good time, and good times.
Claire's end-of-ride advice was spot on, and the bus ride back to Seattle was unremarkable, except for the lack of traffic and waiting in the rain for my bike to be unloaded. But, my bride brought me a mocha from Starbucks, the Bleriot was delivered, and I returned home tired but triumphant!