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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The thrill of finishing STP

Thank you for a great STP!

When I registered in May for the Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, I knew it would be the biggest physical challenge I had ever undertaken. I'm not an athlete, although like everyone else, I make my New Year's Resolution to exercise more frequently. Riding a bicycle 100 miles two days in a row was not one of this year's resolutions.

So why do it?

Everyone has their reasons, and I have mine. I didn't do it for the party-like atmosphere at the midpoint and the finish line. I didn't do it for the gold badge you get for completing a double-century ride. And I certainly didn't do it in order to blog about it.

On the verge of 35, I did it to shake myself up: I needed to break the inertia of being a slug. I did it to prove to myself that I can train for a physical challenge and complete it.

As a shy person, I also felt it was important to get out there and meet people. I saw generosity in bicyclists stopping to help other bicyclists with flat tires.

I saw patience and humor as we waited -- and waited -- in long lines for food, showers and toilets.

I saw individual quirkiness in the types of cycles on the road (tandems, unicycle, you name it) and in helmets decorated with feathers, plush dog ears, and blinking lights.

I saw the landscape with a new lens, the kind you develop sitting on a bicycle. The trees appear alive. The road becomes a complex structure with indentations, debris and varying surfaces. And motor vehicles take on a more ominous note, especially those that are speeding. (My one regret was not stopping and taking a photo of a butcher shop I passed in southern Washington where they advertised frog, rabbit and alligator meat.)

And both during STP and before the event on training rides, I met a bunch of great people whose company I really enjoyed. I didn't get a chance to thank you! Anna, Carlton, Venki, Alex and Sonja, if you're reading this, thanks for your company and please e-mail me at

Well, now it's back to the "real world." But as I head off to work today, the aches in my hamstrings, quads and calves just remind me of what a special weekend it was.

I feel lucky to have experienced the fellowship of being among 10,000 cyclists. Crossing the Lewis & Clark Bridge into Oregon was just one sliver of many memories on the challenging journey Sunday marked by hail, rain, lightning and cold winds -- but that moment of us rushing down the bridge together in one streaming yell of glory is the one I'll treasure the most.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mapping the STP with photos

As those of you who have followed 80 rpm have noticed, you can now see all the markers on my Google Map where I took photos of the journey.

Not all of these markers showed up during the ride, especially between Centralia and Portland, where the cellular services were limited. My Verizon Blackberry Storm wasn't able to get a strong GPS signal anywhere between Centralia and Portland.

As a result, none of my photos could be geotagged on the fly. Let me know if you had better performance with your carrier or device.

I've gone back after the fact and geotagged the photos now to where I think roughly they were taken. Hope you enjoy them!

Now that I'm back in Seattle, I am resting my slightly sore legs and thinking about what completing my first STP ride means to me. More to come.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


After 200+ miles, I feel terrific!!

Almost there

Day 2 has been a tougher ride, as expected. We have had a strong headwind for most of the ride. The misty rain has kept me cool. Still, this last 10-12 mile stretch is just going to be hard.

Woo hoo! Crossed into Oregon!

12:44 pm.

The sight of thousands of cyclists coming down the bridge reminds me of the Tour d'France. I feel incredible!

Preparing to take the bridge at Rainier

THIS is going to be hard... See the bridge in the background? Uphill, baby!