Help with training questions for Seattle - to - Portland (STP) in 2014
Have spent most of the summer off my bike due to a car wreck. Figgered I needed a challenge, and have landed on the STP in a day next summer. The lack of climbing is certainly appealing, but 200 miles is still 200 miles.
I would appreciate your advice on training for this. Currently, I am back on my steed 3-4 days a week with my commute (17 mi RT with some decent climbing). In and of itself, that ain't beginning to be enough miles, but I will start adding weekends with the local club, usually 40-60 miles on a Saturday ride in the winter. I usually do my 18 mile lunch time trial on nice days in the winter, adding some more miles.
55 yrs old, over weight but losing it now that I am back on my bike, and so far have three friends willing to give this a go, so we'll have a paceline (hoping to get 6-8 fellow idiots).
Your advice is appreciated.
I suppose it's not pancake flat, but on rides that are, core strength may be more important than a lot of miles in the saddle. I'm the same age as you, and this my current emphasis along with losing weight
Since this is the LD forum, I assume you mean the one-day. That's the only way to ride it IMO. Much safer and more fun.
I set my best STP time in my late 50s. The fewer people the better, really. More people means more stops, more herding cats, more getting separated, which can be a mess unless the team has trained together for many months and has ridden STP before. Three is good.
You want to have 200 miles/week for the last couple of months before STP. Go hard on the weekend ride(s), then moderate during the week. Even though STP is fairly flat, you want to train on hilly routes. I don't think it's necessary to ever ride over 80 miles in training, but those 80 need to be all out on a hilly route. That said, you should do a century and get experience with insane numbers of bikes on the road. Flying Wheels is good for that - your team should sign up for it or something like that. It's about 4000' climbing, more than STP. Besides getting in shape, the big thing is to learn hydration and on-bike nutrition. On your training rides, try to stay on the bike to help learn this.
I train with a HR monitor. I don't normally limit my HR on the hard training rides. An hour or so a week at 90%-100% of LT is good. However, on STP I limit my maximum HR to ~80% of max HR or about 95% of LT HR, but preferring a maximum of 90% of LTHR. You'll learn what your cruise needs to be.
Here are my STP stops, though I usually don't do all the water stops:
STP Stop Points
24 24.0 Kent REI ministop
53.6 29.6 Spanaway Food & water
72.5 18.9 Yelm ministop Water
100.5 28.0 Riverside Park Food & water (SE)
128.8 28.3 Vader Food
146.2 17.4 Lexington Food & water (SE)
176.6 30.4 St. Helens Food
204.9 28.3 Portland
I rest a little in Lexington if it's dry, otherwise the stops are as short as possible. I once ate a muffin with the paper in Centralia.
Only ride 60-70 miles the weekend before, not hard, then taper way down during the week. Try to go to bed at 6:00 on Thursday and Friday, getting up at STP time on Friday morning. No alcohol. Eat mostly carbs all the week before, but don't stuff yourself. Eat normal amounts, just emphasize carbs. Get to the start early, and try to get in one of the early releases. Watch closely for stupidity for the first 10 miles. Just because they're in an early release doesn't mean they know how to ride a bike.
A few thoughts, from what I've found useful preparing for one-day STP:
--Even though the ride is pretty flat, do a fair amount of hills in preparation. The second half has some rolling hills, and there's a nice little kick when crossing both bridges. If you've done some really hard hills (Zoo Hill is a good way to torture yourself), the rollers and bridges won't look so big after all. I found it psychologically a big boost to look ahead and say to myself "well, if I can get up _______, I can get up this, no sweat."
--Do a couple rides that are longer in time (maybe a century where you take it easy and slow) to find out how your contact points are doing after 8 hours or so in the saddle. If there are any issues, fix them!!!! Also, your neck and upper back have to build the strength to hold your head up for long hours.
--Figure out what keeps your stomach happy. I've found that I overdose on sweet stuff really quickly (except for grapes and watermelon--don't get between me and them at the food stops!), and that Fritos are my magic super food at mile 120. Every stomach is different, but you need to know what you'll be excited to eat, and then you can happily whiz past some completely bonked riders in the last 30-50 miles.
--Start at 4:45, and if you can, skip the first stop in Kent. The first 50 miles are pretty easy, and it's still nice and cool out, so if you have a snack in your pocket and a full water bottle or two, it's very doable to go straight on through. You'll get ahead of some slower, less experienced riders, and stay with a generally faster, mostly better at bike handling group.
--Despite the profusion of Cascade-sponsored stops, don't overlook the gas stations/minimarts/fast food places along the road. Often they have no lines, for food or for restrooms, which can be well worth a few dollars. Two of my favorites are a little roadside espresso stand in the Chevron parking lot in Yelm with a really nice woman who has remembered us year-to-year--and you get there right when you're really jonesing for some coffee (or at least, I do.)--and the McDonald's in St. Helen's--an ice cold Coke, and french fries dipped in vanilla soft serve gets me the remaining 30-some miles into Portland.
Flying Wheels is a good tune-up ride (for bonus points, bike to the start!) If you can get away for it, another ride to consider is the Wenatchee Apple Century. I did it this year, and can't wait for next year. It's hilly and challenging, but beautiful scenery, great roads, low traffic, and an all-around fun and rewarding ride.
And in general, just get out on your bike as much as you can--you'll get more benefits biking two miles to the store for a quart of milk than you will sitting in your car. If you want to do supplemental core exercises, I just got the book "Tom Danielson's Core Advantage" and the exercises in it all look really useful, and the ones I've done so far have been great. I think it would be worth checking out.
It's a fun, wild thing to be able to bike all the way to Portland in a day. I've done it 3 years in a row, and my husband has done 6, and each year we're already looking forward to the next one as we cross the finish line. Good luck!
I'm planning my vacation next year around STP. Right now I have a friend semi-commited to riding it with me in 2 days. If he backs out, I think I might try the one day. Some great info here so far, thanks!
Avoid the pack craziness and just cruise until the Spanaway stop. All the nasty bike on bike accidents I have seen occurred on the groovey fast nice tar flat section near Roy.
Getting into and out of UW can be a bit of a cluster. You would be surprised at how many folks hook into the ride south of the Renton Airfield.
Buy a HR monitor.
Taper the week before.
Unless the wind is bad it's only hard on the behind. Heck I tried to do it in 2 days with my dad but ended up riding the second 100 on the same day in 6.5 hours because of bunch of mechanicals, and annoying slow riders.
One of these years I will successfully complete the two day ride!!
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