Wednesday, July 18, 2012


204 MILES IN ONE DAY - July 14, 2012!

The Seattle-to-Portland (STP) ride is a Northwestern Rite of Passage for cyclists.  This event hosts over 10,000 riders every year, and in recent years has broken records for earlier and earlier sell-outs of the event.  It's a classic ride:  Epic.  Well-supported.  Beautiful scenery. Unique.

And for most people, the 204 mile adventure is undertaken as a two-day ride.  People enjoy the ride, camp out midway-ish, take a rest and fuel up for the second day, and take on the second century ride (or less) the next day to arrive in Portland, refreshed and happy to finish.

We did that last year.  It was fun.

This year, we decided to take on this epic adventure in one day.  It was fun.  Ahem.

Seriously, though, it was a great ride, and a memorable one.  Awesome, actually. 

Our full-day adventure, as I saw it:

Mike and I were psyched and set to go - after our training rides (see previous posts), testing out a few different nutrition options (we ended up with the Perpetuem and Endurolytes, with Nuun and real food as much as we could), and self-maintenance on the bikes (to various degrees of success).

After this training, introspection and sheer foolhardiness, we departed the University of Washington parking lot at 4:45am (yes, I wrote that correctly - after a 3:00am wakeup) with the first wave of one-day riders.  There is an initial scramble as large groups of bikers take to the early morning streets half-excited, half-asleep and mostly nervous of the day ahead.  I remember seeing people have flats within a few blocks, and quietly thanking my bike for not doing so, this early in the morning.  After a few miles, everyone seemed to get their footing.

4:45am start.  Shouldn't we be asleep?

We were lucky enough to paceline for a good part of the day, swinging from one group to the next (if too slow or fast), and taking turns up front.  The morning was cloudy and cool, with patches of mist that kept us cool (and cold at rest stops where we lingered more than a few minutes!).  My sunglasses stayed on my helmet all morning - and Mike kept his arm warmers on, too ...

The long and winding road ... amazing what songs you sing to yourself ...

We hit the midpoint - Centralia (102 miles in) - and took a good break for lunch (it was only 10:30am, but after waking up at 3:00am that morning, it felt like a late lunch!)  We felt good, and kept on going after fueling up on chocolate milk, turkey sandwiches and bananas.

Centralia - halfway there!

By mile 137, we pedaled by Castle Rock, our overnight stop in 2011.  Anything past this point was a one-day personal best for us, and we were encouraged.

And then the rolling hills hit. And the clouds vanished.  And suddenly the temperatures rose into the 80s.  Great if you're at the beach, but not so much if you've been on the bike all day.  (Plus if you're from the Northwest, this is akin to a heat wave.)

Feeling the burn ... lots of miles left!

By the time mile 142 (rest stop) hit, we were close to bonking (aka "hitting the wall").  Time to take a good rest, and eat some food! I learned later that it was this stop where most people bonk - so I felt a little better about myself after that.  After 20 minutes, we were off, and feeling much better.

Mile 175 rest stop (St. Helen's) was welcome (they had misters that you could walk through to cool down!  I squealed like a little boy running through these things several times ...).  A special bonus was that a very good friend and previous LIVESTRONG mentor colleague - John Ohnstad - showed up to ride/escort us the final 29-30 miles to the finish (John claims a 29.87 mile ride).

Patrick and 'Big John' ... great to see him.
John - or "Big John" as most people (and my daughter) respectfully call him - is a tall, muscular and very fit cyclist, and a gentle giant.  To put things into perspective, he rides a bike with a 65cm frame and 200mm cranks to suit his frame (by comparison, our 54-56cm frames are puny).  He has power.  And most importantly, he has a significant wind shadow to draft behind.  This was our secret weapon to the end!

Finished! Patrick and Mike with their "One Day Rider" badges of honor!
Grimey, happy, 1-day rider.

We enjoyed his escort and encouragement through the last miles, and his guidance through Portland.  For the last few 'victory miles', we biked ahead of him through the neighborhoods, and finally celebrated in Portland in Holladay Park at 6:30pm. 

204 miles complete!

Were we sore?  Yes.  Some areas more obvious than others.

Were we grimy?  Yes.

Did the shower and hotel room bed that night feel especially welcome?  Oh, absolutely.

The best part for Mike? 

After accomplishing such a long ride, the reward came at the finish line, when his girlfriend Joey called out and greeted him.  They were so happy to see each other, and you could see how proud she was of him.

Final mileage and ride dedications.

The best part for me?

As a footnote to this epic adventure, and to bring us back to earth - I would like to point out the photo above of my bike at the end.  While the trip computer shows over 206 miles(!), most importantly - and personally - are the dedications I have on my top tube: one for my Dad, who passed away due to cancer in 1993, and most recently for my Aunt (Tante) Angelika who passed away the Monday before the ride due to cancer.

"Ride for LIVESTRONG Seattle" rides to raise awareness of LIVESTRONG and its programs and support for cancer survivorship.  We also ride for very personal cancer-related reasons.  To my Dad and Tante Angelika, you provided me with the inspiration, courage and strength to attack and conquer this ride.

If you are inspired by our efforts, you can join our group (on the bike or off), and also support my fundraising here: - thank you! 



Patrick Chatfield
Team Captain, Ride for LIVESTRONG Seattle
Senior LIVESTRONG Leader

P.S.  And now, we look forward to the Seattle Century on July 28th, 2012!  Our last local "Hurrah!" ride before traveling to Austin to ride there in October.  I hope you can join us - check out:

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