Bringing it in

We agreed an half hour at Centralia for lunch was ample time. Any more than that and we’d start to seize up and get used to being off our bikes. We took a quick look around for Tom And Theresa but couldn’t see them in the sea of spandex and bikes so off we went.

Fueled by caffeine
The traffic was very light leaving Centralia so we rode two up at a light pace to give our bodies a chance to digest and chat to each other. We slowly worked ourselves back into a pace line and picked it up again – Winlock coffee was beckoning us! I was amazed at just how fast we made it to our favourite little espresso hut in Winlock. It’s right across the road from an STP mini-stop but we always b-line it to the hut. Doug was kind enough to buy us all iced americanos; refreshing, hydrating and caffeinating! Just what the afternoon needed.

The bikes need some shade too.
Fully recharged, we paced back up for the long haul. The sun was beating down hard on us and our efforts were rewarded with a short stop at Castle Rock (aka. the Cruise Missile school). There is an actual cruise missile on a pedestal in front of this school – only in America. One of the worst things we saw that day was a cyclist get hit by a car right at the entrance. We didn’t actually see him get hit but heard the screams for 911 and all the commotion surrounding the event. We would later find out the accident was entirely rider error – he just turned right in front of the car and they had no chance to stop. The poor driver was absolutely traumatized.

We left the “missile base” and pedaled toward Oregon – so very close at this point. Cruising through Longview we were stopping at a light when my ride nearly ended. Shifting down into my largest cog my chain jumped off and wedged between the hub and cassette. I skidded to a halt and Doug nearly crashed into me because of my sudden lock-up. I cursed my bike that had treated me so well for so many kilometres. How dare it do this to me at this point in the ride – at any point in the ride. I broke out my Leatherman and began surgery but the chain wasn’t going to budge. I really thought my day was ending right there in the shitty little town of Longview. Scram Jet (Tony) jumped in with his iPhone and started looking for nearby bike shops, Doug took over surgical duties and I flagged down a support motorcycle. T located a bike shop and Krista set off armed with a list of necessary tools and his phone while I worked with the support bike to try to get a tech support vehicle near us – they were all at least 1.5 hours away! I felt bad that my bike was holding up our ride and somehow I was also responsible. Then Doug shouted the best words I heard all day “I got it! She’s all good!” After a quick call to get Krista back to the group, I did a mini test ride to confirm we were good to go. It was true. My wheel wasn’t but I could still ride. Let’s effin’ roll!

Next up we hit the Lewis and Clark Bridge into Oregon and felt an encouraging wind on our right cheeks. We were going to have a tailwind! We lined it up after the bridge and really got going again. We held a very strong pace with the wind pitching in but were still hangin’ it out there. The approach to St. Helen’s food stop was a very welcome sight. It’s an excellent stop for recharging with all the great food and drink. We stayed little longer than normal there to rest up for the home stretch but it was well deserved.

The entrance to Portland was different this year and a very pleasant surprise. The St. Johns Bridge was light in traffic and smooth in surface. It also provided a spectacular view of the city and our final kilometres of the day.

Well earned by all
Best group EVER!
The final stretch into Holladay Park was lead by Doug. The newest member of our group deserved to be in front for his first Double Century ride. It’s an amazing feeling riding into the park with all the cheering and clapping. It’s a phenomenal way to end such a long day in the saddle; a real feeling of accomplishment. We got our “1 Day Rider” badges and b-lined it for the beer garden for some Fat Tire Amber. Beer never tastes as good as it does after this ride. We conversed with other riders at our table and discovered they had been hanging on one of our pace lines earlier in the day and loved it. Nice feedback.

I think this sums up the day!
I’d have to say this was my best STP yet. I’m sure Krista, Scram Jet and Doug would agree. Perfect weather, pace and group. There’s nothing else I would’ve rather done that day.

My ride stats for Seattle to Portland 2011:
Distance: 326.4 km
Ride Time: 10:31:24
Average Speed: 31.0 km/h
Maximum Speed: 56.7 km/h
Average Cadence: 74 rpm

Total Time (incl breaks and techs): 14:06:19
Calories Burned: 7992
Average Heart Rate: 128
Maximum Heart Rate: 183
Fat Burn Zone Time: 4:25:01
Fitness Zone Time: 9:41:18     

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