If ever a ride post deserved to be about logistics…. It’s STP.

Signing up before the deadline.
The open-jaw plane tickets.
Pedals off bikes.
The camping supplies.
Plane.
Light rail.
Packet pick up at the REI mothership.
Bus.
Walk.
Wrong bike shop.
Ride from kind stranger.
Right bike shop.
Renting the bikes.
Pedals on rentals.
Zombie on my rental.
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THAT’s how awesome the customer service is at Recycled Cycles!
Bike to hotel.
Ace Hotel Seattle.
Taxi to high school classmate’s for a delicious dinner with STP veterans.
Dinner!
Dessert!!!
Ride back to hotel.
4am wake up call.
Escalade to the University of Washington start line. Our driver was speechless at the sight of thousands of cyclists amassing before dawn to ride to Portland:

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I was nervous and tense. My bike fell over and dropped the chain. My beloved stepped on my sunglasses. I was not gracious. I defaulted to my Hollywood starlet sunglasses (purchased at the Grand Canyon to replace a pair destroyed in a similar incident).

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Once we started, though, everything was magic. A trip down memory lane. Flying down memory lane. (Did I mention that Recycled Cycles set us up on some awesome Raleigh bikes?) Some happy, some not-so-much (see the name of the seventh segment on Strava if you’re so inclined).

Then, the view of Mt. Rainier over Lake Washington. The view I was riding far too fast to stop and take a picture of for you.

The view that prompted me to realize how spoiled I was as a child. Not materially – I didn’t get a Camaro or a Mustang when I turned sixteen. I had a menial minimum wage job (and biked by the scene of my $2.35/hour summer around mile 20). My posh education was largely financed by scholarships, not trust funds… Although my freshman year at Forest Ridge was made possible by my dad hitting the exacta at Longacres, the former site of which we also pedaled by. But the real gift they gave me was a childhood spent with the Cascade mountains as a backdrop.

I was spoiled by the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I took epic views of mountains for granted. (So much so that even now, I rarely stop to snap the picture. Sorry.)

Our first real rest stop was at the REI in Kent, and it was so swamped, I almost lost the domestic partner. Then I found him and asked him to get a picture of me standing on a rock, surrounded by a sea of bikes. This is what I got:

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I asked for a retake.

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(I wanted more rock and bikes, less me.)

At the next stop, I ran into some guys in Saints to Sinners 2012 jerseys. I interrogated them mercilessly. Their bottom line? Prepare for heat, prepare for cold, prepare for dark, prepare for bright, prepare for desert, prepare for rain, prepare for altitude.

Then there was “the hill” in Puyallup. Did I mention that we had great bikes? Nothing like appropriate gearing to send me flying up an ascent. Nothing like reaching the top of the purported big challenge and thinking, “that’s it? ”

I spent the rest of the day trying to get a good shot of me and Mt. Rainier.

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This was the best I could do:

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The sheer scale of the event – 10,000 riders – meant a lot of bikes on the road, and some single-file frustration. I was really happy when we reached the bike path part of the route. At one point, a chipmunk ventured out on the path, saw us coming, and scurried back into the shrubbery, like the Jack Russell Terrier at the Tour de France:

A couple miles down the path, I saw another chipmunk who had not been so fortunate.

Finally, we rolled into Centralia, the midway point, and I was elated that my iPhone battery had powered Strava all the way there.

And then it was back to logistics:

Find campsite.
Retrieve gear.
Pitch tent.
Find showers.
Shower.
Charge electronics.
Secure bikes and zombie.
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Find food and drink.
Celebrate Seattle to Centralia Century!
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