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  1. #1
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    STP one-day tips?

    My big goal for 2010 is to complete the Seattle to Portland bike ride in one day. Does anyone have any tips particular to this ride, or general doulbe century hints? My current group is three, and we plan to do some long rides together prior to get used to riding paceline and swapping pulls. Two of us have done 200k plus days before, the third has a successful century behind him. The reccomended mileages on the double century training guides I have looked at seem plenty doable, but are there other issues beside just the miles that start to come up on longer rides?

    thanks in advance
    Thom

  2. #2
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Your fit on the bike is the biggest issue. As the miles start adding up the little issues that pester you on a shorter ride can become ride enders on longer rides. STP is pretty flat and a relatively easy double. There are lots of fast pacelines. You three should have a lot of fun.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  3. #3
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    With about 1500 other riders doing STP in one day, you'll have no trouble finding pacelines. Take it easy at first, don't try to jump in the fastest groups or you'll be worn out before Centralia. Go at your own steady pace for the first couple of hours. By that point, you'll be in the group of riders matching your own natural pace so hop in a paceline if you feel like it. Don't spend too much time at the rest stops. Just eat, pee, refill the water bottles, and go. If you're on the tail end of riders, note that much of the food will be gone by the time you arrive, so plan accordingly (there are a number of gas stations/convenience stores along the route if you get too hungry). As Homeyba said, STP is mostly flat and a lot of fun.

  4. #4
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    If you can do a 200k+ day and not feel totally wiped, then STP shouldn't be an issue. Pace yourself, eat and hydrate properly, and don't dawdle at the stops.
    If you can, pass on the first couple stops and use that time to gain some gap between you and the rest of the crowd. That way the rest stops will be less crowded when you do need to pit. That first stop at the 20-ish mile mark is a madhouse, with people losing upwards of 20 minutes waiting in line to use the port-o-johns if you don't get there in the first couple start waves.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  5. #5
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffpoulin View Post
    With about 1500 other riders doing STP in one day,
    More like 3500 one day riders.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  6. #6
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    Wow, that's really increased then. I did STP 3 times (1998-2000) and back then I remember there were only about 1500 one day riders.

  7. #7
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffpoulin View Post
    Wow, that's really increased then. I did STP 3 times (1998-2000) and back then I remember there were only about 1500 one day riders.
    Last time I did STP (mid '80s IIRC), it was the 10th anniversary edition - strictly limited to 10,000 riders. Even doing the 1-day ride, it was a constant crowd scene the entire 200mi. Ugh. No thank you, please.

    SP
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  8. #8
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Go to bed very early Thursday and Friday nights. Get up very early Friday morning. That will help with getting some rest Friday night.

    I've always gotten to the parking lot plenty early and tried to get myself into one of the early waves. Then I'd go pretty good, as fast as was safe, and try to get ahead of the bozos. That's ignoring the advice of all the folks who'll tell you to take it easy at the start. The object of this game is to be cruising along at a nice pace after about the first 10 miles, just waiting for a lovely paceline to come along about 2mph faster than you're going, so you can grab on. If that one's too fast, drop off and wait for another one. It's amazing how much faster you can ride on the back than pushing the wind yourself. Don't be shy.

    Your first problem will be losing contact with each other in the melee after the start. It's a difficult start, the roads are not the best, it'll be dark, islands will appear out of nowhere, there will be slow riders on the left, etc. So if you really intend to do this as a group, establish a meeting spot at a particular rest stop and wait for each other there.

    Another thing that can go wrong is that your preferred foodstuff or drink can fail you. You just can't choke it down. So keep an open mind and be ready to branch out. Try to analyze what's going wrong and what you can do about it. A lot of the time it's not enough salt. Maybe some pretzels and you'll be fine again. Or maybe what's in your bottles is too sweet and you aren't drinking enough because of that, so you're both dehydrated and undercaloried.

    My comments here are more for those interested in turning in a good time. I do think it's safer the closer to the front you can be - you get a better class of rider. If you go pretty good at the start, the wobblies and the folks who are riding way over their heads will be gone in the first 20 miles and you won't see them again.

    Another good tactic if pacelines fail you is to look for some guy the size of a refrigerator, get on his wheel and take a nice rest, then go again when you feel better.

    Another thing I'll do is put an absolute limit on my HR on the climbs, maybe 4-6 beats below LT. If I get dropped, I get dropped. Usually I find the droppers again, a bit further up the road.

    If the three of you are riding your own paceline, you'll have to decide whether or not to let others work in. Obviously it saves energy to drop all the way back, but sometimes pacelines split and you'll get separated. If you're concerned about it, just drop back to your group's last wheel and point to your spot. They'll let you in. But I've usually dropped all the way back. I'm a wussy. But without your group pulling, maybe they'll be too slow, so you'll have to get your group together and attack. I've usually seen a fair bit of fluidity.

    You may encounter pacelines with a rear guard, who will not let you in. It's OK to draft the guard. Their riders will pull in in front of the guard.

    Work on your aero position. Save energy. Ride in the drops if you are first or second rider. Don't pull more than 3 minutes.

    Find a local fast group ride, and ride with them this spring and summer. You'll want to do 70-80 mile group rides that are fast enough to do you some damage. Work up to 200 mile weeks. It's not necessary to have ridden over a century, all at once.

    Don't do anything to your bike except pump the tires that last week. Do any maintenance a couple weeks before. Deflate your tires and check them for glass, then pump back up. Or run new tires and tubes.

    Eat a sandwich at Lexington and take a little rest, but not too long.

    Just gut it out on the bridge. Hardly anyone ever gets killed on it, even though that seems likely.

    If the weather's good, you should be able to absolutely fly from the bridge to Portland. That's when I get after it and put the hurt on my legs.

    Enjoy! It's a lot of fun. Always reminds me of salmon migrating.

  9. #9
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffpoulin View Post
    Wow, that's really increased then. I did STP 3 times (1998-2000) and back then I remember there were only about 1500 one day riders.
    I rode it last year and there were just over 3000 1 day riders.

    Quote Originally Posted by bobbycorno View Post
    Last time I did STP (mid '80s IIRC), it was the 10th anniversary edition - strictly limited to 10,000 riders. Even doing the 1-day ride, it was a constant crowd scene the entire 200mi. Ugh. No thank you, please.
    They're upping the cap this year to 10,000 riders. I figured out last year (with a 9,500 rider cap) that if they evenly spaced riders along the course, it would be 1 rider every 112 feet for 203 solid miles.
    I'm glad I rode it once for the experience, but I'm not a party crowd guy so I won't be doing it again.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  10. #10
    Clyde - Grinder Kamala's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Another good tactic if pacelines fail you is to look for some guy the size of a refrigerator, get on his wheel and take a nice rest, then go again when you feel better.
    That would be me. But at least let me know you're back there. And buy me a beer when I get to Portland several hours after you. :-)

  11. #11
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    Start with the first wave, at 4:45am.

    Control yourself, ride your own ride. Don't worry about those who are hopped up on adrenaline, let them drop you.

    As stated, ignore the stops before Puyallup or Spanaway.

    Don't overeat at Centralia.

    Don't worry about your speeds dropping significantly during the second half. This is normal, and you'll still have plenty of time to make Portland before nightfall.

    Don't be too anxious, you guys will do fine.

  12. #12
    shut up and ride
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    great advice, carbonfiberboy!

  13. #13
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasper Storm View Post
    <>
    Don't overeat at Centralia.

    <>
    And fergodsake, take the wrapper off the muffin before you eat it, unlike me.

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    Thanks for the tips so far. Based on what i saw in '08 riding STP as a two day, I had planned to skip the "official" aid station to avoid the crowds and lost time there.

    Thus far, I have found I have pretty much of an iron stomach on the bike as long as i stay away from too many sweets. I've been using a product called Nuun in the water bottles as an electrolyte replacement since most of the sports drinks are too sweet for me, but that means getting calorie replacement elsewhere.

    I am considering getting a triathlete style behind the seat 2-bottle cage to augment the current cages, and a small handlebar bag to keep foodstuff at hand on the ride, again trying to minimize the need for stops. Sound reasonable?

    I am not incredibly fast, but I have found that I can usually establish a reasonable pace and keep going. this will be my longest challenge of that to date. Maybe try a rando series next year.

    Thanks again.
    Thom

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    Those triathlete cages can be notorious for ejecting bottles. You might remember in 2008 the bike path detour between Yelm and Tenino was in pretty rough shape (although it was smooth this year.) I saw one rider lose a bottle and almost cause a pileup by slamming on his brakes and pulling a quick u-turn. There are also those expansion joints on the Longview bridge that cause many ejections.

    For me personally, I have concluded that I prefer to carry only two bottles of water. Slightly less weight, but more importantly in the hot afternoon, getting refills of COLD water more frequently.

    This year, my sole source of supplemental on-board nutrition will probably be a 8 oz softflask (flip top) of espresso Hammer Gel, for use during the last 70 miles or so.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    A hydration pack might be a better solution. I don't like using them on longer rides but for a short double century one might be the perfect solution.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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    Jasper Storm, now that you mention it I do remember that stretch, and plenty of bottles on the road other places as well. Agree on the Hammer Espresso gel, it is one of the few I can stomach.

    Homeyba, what do you consider a long ride? I realize a double century is shorter than many brevets, but I'm still not sure that makes it short. But, I may change my mind after riding it. At one point, 100k was a long ride for me.
    Thom

  18. #18
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TBatty View Post
    ...Homeyba, what do you consider a long ride? I realize a double century is shorter than many brevets, but I'm still not sure that makes it short. But, I may change my mind after riding it. At one point, 100k was a long ride for me.
    I forget myself sometimes It's 115 miles for me to ride "around" the block... I do a lot of ultra races as well as brevets.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  19. #19
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    By Homeyba's right in a way: STP is a short double compared to others. Probably the easiest double out there. Only about 3000' of climbing, usually tailwinds, and on a flat ride like that, lots of people to hide behind. 10 saddle hours is very achievable for reasonably fast recreational riders.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Yep, it ranks up there in the easy department with the Solvang double. Both, very enjoyable, "relatively" easy rides.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  21. #21
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    Okay, I read a few of Homeyba's posts on other threads, now I understand why he considers 200 miles a short ride.

    I stand in awe.
    Thom

  22. #22
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TBatty View Post
    Okay, I read a few of Homeyba's posts on other threads, now I understand why he considers 200 miles a short ride.

    I stand in awe.
    I appreciate the thought but you don't need to stand in awe. My wife certainly doesn't! I'm just another guy who likes to ride and race his bike...just a little further than most people.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  23. #23
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    My two coppers of insight:

    1. The UW start line is one big cluster. Start there once and never again. The old kingdome start could handle traffic -much- better. It's funny how many Eastsiders you see starting from their houses and connecting up at the Renton Airport.

    2. Make your first stop in Spanaway. (Said by many previous posters)

    3. Keep the heart rate low until the Spanaway stop.

    4. The most dangerous section for pace lines I have seen is along the Fort Lewis 507. It's flat, straight and a massive shoulder

    5. Crossing the Columbia bridge as a one day rider is not enjoyable. Please, please ride it strong for the sake of all the other riders. I really hate it when I get behind a sketchy tanked person.

    6. Remember the STP is an EASY 200 ;-)

  24. #24
    Senior Member Daveyboy's Avatar
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    Carefully wrap the other half of your subway sandwich so it doesn't all fall out on the road when you pull it out of your back pocket for a snack.

    And for sure, if you drop that sandwich halfway up on of those 'rolling' hills, don't turn around and scrape what's left of it off the road 'cause your hungry and it's all you've got....

  25. #25
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    I LOVE STP! It is one of favorite organized rides.

    I agree with Carbonfiberboy in that your biggest challenge in the first 100 miles is to arrive in Centralia safely. Most of the people who have little group riding experience stop in Centralia for the night, so the 2nd 100 miles feels safer to me.

    I have seen three HORRIFIC wrecks in my two years doing STP One Day.
    1) 2006: In a huge group about 15 miles before centralia...a woman ran into the rear wheel of a rider and went down into the crowd...we were doing about 21. She was about 10 people ahead of me but I still hit her on the ground. I ran over her shoulder so hard that it blew the tire off of my front wheel. She was pretty mad at me but I really could not have avoided her without causing others to wreck. I felt horrible about it.
    2) 2006: A dude in his aero bars (STUPID, STUPID, STUPID) swerved in front of another 3 riders. All 4 went down and the leading rider of the trailing 3 shattered his clavecle. It was kind of sickening.
    3) 2008: Coming into St Helens...a guy was lying face down in the center of the highway looking dead and all crumpled up...he was making choking sounds on his tounge and others around him were trying to get his airway clear. There were 20 or 30 riders around him so we just moved on...thinking it was the safest thing to do....others were piled up in bloody heaps off of the road all around him...it was sobering.

    I have to get to a meeting....I will post more about real tips later.

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