What did you learn from riding in this year's Seattle to Portland? This was my first STP and I learned a lot from the forum postings from last year. Let's pass on our hard won knowledge to the first-timers of 2009.
I'll start off.
1) Riding 300-400 miles per month over the prior year made the ride relatively easy.
2) 23mm tires vs 28mms were just fine on my bike (the Roubaix)...stiffer bike might be more comfortable on 28s.
3) At age 61, having a triple chain-ring was really nice. I never had to use the granny gear but I got close at the Puyallup and Vader hills. Hat's off to you "young" guys who crank up those hills with your doubles. My gearing is 53-39-30 and 10-27.
4) A 3-hour (6-scoop) bottle of Hammer Perpetuem really helped give me a real boost of energy whenever I needed it. With that plus Gatorade and Endurolyte capsules I never felt close to bonking or getting cramps.
5) I like riding solo. I can go at my own rate (slower or faster). The results at the end are totally my own.
6) Pacelines can be dangerous. I saw one explode in front of me. Bodies everywhere. See #5.
7) Although I could have finished in one day by about 6:30 or 7PM at less that my average pace, I stopped at Vader for the night at 1:30PM at River Oaks RV Park. Had a great pasta and wine dinner there, slept like a log in our camper van. Had a great 70-mile ride that felt like a walk in the park the next day arriving in Portland before noon. It's supposed to be fun, right?
8) My weak points were my hands (right in particular) and my butt. My three middle fingers on my right hand kept going numb. Not sure what's going on there--have good gloves. I think my butt just wanted a break at 130 miles. I used Chamois Butt'r and have good shorts and felt fine for the first 100 miles.
9) If your water bottle doesn't fit snugly in its cage, either get a bigger bottle or a smaller cage. The railroad tracks will take it away from you sooner or later and more critically may take you or the rider behind you down hard. I had one very close call from a bottle dropped just in front of me.
Just to calibrate the above, my average speed was 17.4MPH. I rode 2,500 miles on a mountain bike over the winter months in Mexico.
What did the rest of you learn from this STP or others you have ridden? Questions also welcome.