My day on Saturday began very very early. I wanted to get a head start on the other riders. I did not want to deal with the 10,000+ riders that would be starting at 4:45 AM. This year I just didn't want to deal with it. It was surreal being the only one on the road so early in the morning. But I wasn't alone for too long because apparently other cyclists had the same idea. I met a few riders who like me also went for an early start. I chatted with a few of them but we mainly pedaled alone in those early hours. Except for me and the other lone cyclists we had the entire streets to ourselves for quite some time. It was so peaceful riding during those early hours.
Our weather for Saturday morning was pretty chilly. We had the typical pacific northwest marine layer that rolled in over night. It was pretty thick too and would not burn off until 1:30 PM. It actually made riding nice. Not hot or wet but very comfortable. In fact I think it was the perfect kind of weather for such a long ride.
I was in a "zone" those first few hours and didn't stop for quite sometime. In fact my first rest stop was the Yelm ministop at mile 71.4 just before we jumped onto the Yelm/Rainier/Tenino Trail (Okay okay I did stop a few times at convenience stores and a gas station). I refilled my water bottles and drank a large bottle of powerade, ate two cookies, and a bag of trail mix before continuing on. I got onto the trail and was on it for 13 miles before returning to the road. At mile 86 I stopped at the Tenino ministop to use the bathroom and all the fast riders were beginning to appear. I was no longer alone but was quickly seeing more and more cyclists on the road with me.
I reached the half way point in Centralia just before 11:00 AM. As I rolled in I was offered a large chocolate milk which I drank down quickly. It was delicious! In Centralia free food was offered to the one day riders. Good thing for me because I was hungry! I devoured a turkey and cheese sandwich and a rice crispy treat, filled my water bottles, drank a large bottle of powerade and used the sanican before getting back on my bike and continuing on. I skipped the next two ministops at miles 105.85 and 113.55 and finally turned in at the Winlock rest stop at mile 120.3. Here they were selling hamburgers, hot dogs, polish sausages, and all kinds of goodies. Hungry again I bought a hamburger and a drink and found a table and sat down and enjoyed my feast. I talked to this really cool guy who was doing the STP for the 31st time! Wow, I was impressed. He told me about some years where it was so hot you wanted to die and other times of pouring down rain. He experienced it all! After we both finished eating we said good luck to each other and I continued on. I left this rest stop at 1:30 PM. This was also about the time the sun finally burned through the marine layer and blue skies appeared giving us sunshine for the rest of the day.
I stopped quickly at mile 143.9 to use the sanican again. Only nine miles to the Oregon border from this stop. Crossing the Lewis and Clark Bridge was a bit scary. The bike/pedestrian path was narrow and there were huge, rough, expansion joints on the bridge too. They were pretty bad but I managed to get across. I wanted to stop and take a picture of the "Welcome to Oregon" sign but the decent was fast and the turn too sharp making it pretty difficult to stop so I just continued on.
At mile 173.85 I reached the final rest stop at St. Helens H.S. Here they were serving some great food so I helped myself to a delicious mini turkey wrap and a white chocolate chip cookie. I rested a bit longer here but finally was on my way again. Only 30 miles left to go! It was the longest 30 miles of the day but finally I saw a sign that said "10 miles to Portland" I was excited. I could also see the bridges of Portland in the distance. I was getting close! The sun was getting low and the shadows were getting long. It was a beautiful evening. The sky was blue and clear and the air "shimmery". Cyclists were beginning to accumulate as I approached the city. With 5 miles left to go I was swallowed up by a group of about 15-20 riders. Together we cruised through the streets of Portland. It seems we hit every single red light once we entered the city streets. We were all laughing and chatting and passing our energy on to each other. We were almost to the finish and we were all excited!
At mile 201.9 we reached the Steel Bridge and rode onto the lower-level pedestrian walkway. We were lucky because there was practically zero pedestrian traffic on the bridge as we crossed. With less than two miles to go we became electric and animated. As we passed people on the sidewalks of Portland we could hear them clapping and cheering for us as we rode by. Then there it was the finish line! I made it! I did it! It was thrilling, exciting, and totally rewarding as I crossed the finish line. I could hear the announcer call my number as I crossed and I could see the smiles and hear the cheers. A man handed me my 1 day rider patch and congratulated me. And there was my husband waiting for me. As sweaty and stinky as I was he came over to me and gave me a big hug and kiss and told me how proud he was that I did the STP in one day. I crossed the line at 7:37 PM. Over 15 hours ago I was in Seattle and now here I was in Portland. My ride time was 13.49, my average speed was 14.7, and my total miles was 203.19. What a day, what a ride, what an experience.
Vader ministop at mile 127. Only 25 miles to the Oregon border and 76 miles to Portland.
Me crossing the finish line in Portland.