Sunday, July 24, 2016

Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic 2016 (Mid-July)

The way I see it, the STP is more a social thing than a riding thing.

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More after the break…

Day 1

I left home for the starting line at about 04:45, then started the ride at 05:30. I started the ride with a small cut in my front tire from the week's riding, but the slime in the tube was holding up okay.

While riding along Lake Washington Boulevard, I noticed that my left/front shifter kept dropping down against the derailleur's spring. I held the shifter for a few miles to keep the chain on the big ring, then tightened the D-ring when I got to Seward Park. (I would later find out that this is a common problem with these shifters, and applied some purple thread locker to the bolts at home.)

As I left Seward Park, I saw an older guy on an old Schwinn Typhoon cruiser that had some serious upgrades.

While riding on the West Valley Highway, I ended up riding with a guy named Russ who was riding a Rivendell Rambouillet. He was making a point of showing all the folks on 'modern' bikes that a steel frame can still be fast, and I was right behind him much of the way to Sumner. He was also riding Compass tires, though the 35mm version (mine were the 38mm version).

In Puyallup, I found some folks riding from Point 83 that I'd met before at a Peddler Brewing event. One was on a Soma Saga Disc (like mine, but 26" instead of 700C) and was riding Schwalbe Kojaks pumped up to a high pressure for speed. She said she'd rather have Compass Rat Trap Pass tires (like mine), but they were a bit too expensive and fragile. I mentioned how they were a bit squidgy with a load.

"The Hill" was as easy as always and I passed most of the riders.

Right when I was about to leave, my front tire started hissing. Apparently, the slime finally gave up with the cut in the tube. I had to put my spare tire on, with one of my spare tubes as the slimed tube probably wouldn't patch up.

While riding somewhere around McKenna, one rider was stopped in the shoulder and fiddling with something on his bike. The guy in front of me stopped quickly without issue, and I also stopped fine, but the lady behind me slammed into my backside and almost fell over. There wasn't really enough time for a warning.

In Rainier, I stopped for a bag of chips and some Gatorade as I was feeling pretty drained.

I had to raise my saddle a few times throughout the day to keep my feet from burning.

Handling was pretty weird, but I ignored it for a while.

Shortly before Centralia, I decided to check my front tire, and it apparently wasn't holding much air. I chalked it up to the valve, whose core was bent pretty badly. Tightening the nut on it would actuallly break the seal. Since there was nothing I could do, I put in my second spare tube.

I did get that coffee, which gave me a nice push the rest of the way to my midpoint lodging.

In Chehalis, a driver was waiting to make a left at a stop sign onto a major road. As cyclists made the right onto the same road beside him, he kept shouting "STOP SIGN!" and cursing at them. (I had stopped to use the restroom, so I watched for a minute while this happened.)

In Napavine, I talked to an older guy with an also older Windsor 10-speed upgraded to 12-speed. Almost everything else was original and he was proud of that, though he sometimes wished for easier gearing.

For much of the rollers to Winlock, I led a paceline with my caffeine power.

I finally got to Vader at 18:30 or so, and stuffed my face to make the next day easier.

Day 2

After a big breakfast, I headed out of Vader at 06:00. Unfortunately, that meant that I wouldn't see any food stops open until I got into Oregon.

When crossing the Lewis and Clark Bridge, I was one of the riders on the left, passing those who weren't so used to hills.

And once in Rainier on the other side, I stopped at a gas station to eat some chips and drink some Gatorade. I also chatted with a guy who was doing the ride on an old steel Bianchi, who had stopped for coffee.

I stopped for coffee once before Saint Helens, but then went all-out with a mocha at the same place as always.

This, combined with the tailwind, got me going 20 MPH much of the way back.

One guy stuck behind me for a while and said "it was nice riding with you!" as we got to the Saint Johns Bridge (yes, that is the correct spelling).

While I mainly jumped ahead from paceline to paceline, I did stay behind a guy on a 650B randonneuring bike with disc brakes and a Rohloff Speedhub for a bit to chat.


At Holladay Park, I used my meal voucher for a Philly Cheesesteak and lemonade, then got some additional fries after. While eating, I chatted with a guy who also had a Davidson and had seen mine getting worked on at Davidson's shop recently. His had a fancy, modern, titanium frame, which was on the opposite end of the spectrum from my steel touring frame, but we still had a lot to chat about.


Since I was done with that, I headed over to the hostel where I was staying the next two nights. I ended up in a different building from usual, which had niceties like power strips at each bunk and a separate bathroom for each dorm room.

And then I got some more food at the nearby cafe, while reading some STP tweets.

Day 3: Post-STP in Portland

The next morning, I felt pretty dead and took it easy for a while. I hung around the hostel, killed time on my phone, and chatted with other hostel guests.


I did eventually get out on the bike. Walking wasn't really an option, as I only had my stiff cycling shoes.

I first stopped at a custom bike shop I had heard about the previous week. I was curious about their forks.

And then I stopped at Rivelo, which was closed last time. We talked quite a bit about bicycles, cameras, and old storage media. His shop sells Rivendell bikes, odds and ends, and new pressings of Bob Dylan records.

And then I stopped at Clever Cycles, where I talked with a bunch of people from the Brompton Mafia and got a free liquor flask branded with the shop's logo. One of the Brompton Mafia folks had a highly customized Brompton with lots of titanium parts.

Feeling starved, I went to Lardo for a sandwich, fries, and iced tea.

And then I stopped by Velo Cult, which was unfortunately closed that day.

Lastly, I went back to the hostel where I showered to end my riding that day. I got a Vitamin Water, which I later found out contained caffeine. Because of my state, I was stuck in bed with an upset stomach whenever I wasn't in the shower.

And then I was taken out to dinner…where I only drank some red wine because my stomach was still upset.

Worried about being able to sleep after having consumed the wine so early, I got a pint of beer…and was only able to drink half of it before I was ready for bed..

Day 4

To Portland Union Station

The next morning was a hard start, and I lamented how I had to ferry all my luggage out before being able to pack because I couldn't turn the lights on while the other hostel guests slept.

When I got to the train station, I saw some Biketown bikes being set up.


The train ride was pretty quiet for a while.

Though, I did chat with someone for quite a while after I moved over to the bistro car with its open seating.

Return Home

On the trip home, I stopped by FreeRange Cycles and Ballard Bike Company to talk about my experience. The lead mechanic at the latter also did the ride and had a great time, despite what some folks have told him about it.

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