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Old 07-15-08, 07:26 PM   #1
Oroluk Lagoon
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STP '08 Lessons Learned

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.
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Old 07-15-08, 09:41 PM   #2
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Ride like you trained. I got out a pair of bike briefs that I haven't worn all year.....MISTAKE.
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Old 07-15-08, 09:42 PM   #3
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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.


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.
I got a massage the day after, and the masseuse worked on my pectoralis minor muscles (hope I got the name correct). Hurt like heck, but, probably did me a world of good.

She explained that because everything is in front of us, our arms/hands are always out in front of us to do everything, the result being those muscles become shortened. As a result, we get hunched forward shoulders, and putting other parts out of proper alignment, resulting in other symptoms, notibly numbness in our last 2 fingers (granted your 3rd finger is involved, it might affect that finger as well, so keep reading). Most people get treated at the shoulder blade, which is partly correct---it relieves pressure on the C-x and C-y vertebrae (C-2 and C-3????) when in fact, the biggest culprit are these pec muscles. She told me that a good stretch is to grab a door frame at shoulder level, keeping shoulder level walk forward enough to stretch the front half of the chest.

edit: I just cropped my original posting.
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Old 07-15-08, 10:34 PM   #4
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What did you learn from riding in this year's Seattle to Portland?
I really don't like crowds. Not even if they're all friendly cyclists out for a weekend of fun.
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Old 07-15-08, 11:21 PM   #5
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#5: i agree about riding solo - being tethered to someone else, who most likely won't want to ride the exact speed as you the whole time, can be a drag. riding with friends is fun, but keeping pace isn't easy.

this was my first year doing it solo, and i enjoyed the hell out of it! although i did paceline at 25 mph for the first 50 miles, for the rest of the route i went at 15-20 mph, and stopped about every 40 miles or so.

and riding at a medium pace, but stopping infrequently, meant that i would see a lot of "faster" riders again, and again, and again. had i been riding with a partner i probably would have had to stop more often.

some more points to add to the list:

#10: if you want to use a nice bathroom (that isn't a 100+ degree portapotty with a big line in front of it), just go to a convenience store or gas station. they mostly have air conditioning too.

#11: insulated water bottles are worth it! i had one of them, and it worked as i hoped it would. my other bottle's water would get hot after about 20 minutes in the sun.
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Old 07-16-08, 01:03 PM   #6
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hmmm... I learned that the ride was not nearly as bad as I expected with just 2k of elevation gain. I also learned that having two bottles would be helpful, but not crucial.
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Old 07-16-08, 02:12 PM   #7
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As mentioned before, ride the STP as you've trained - eating and drinking with what you trained on... Nothing like having the stomach rebel on you while on the road because you ate or drank something you're not accustomed.

Another thing I learned this year is to not be intimidated by other riders - especially those in pace lines. I ride a trike, I'm a pace line of one, if you are going to pass me, better do it before we crest a hill. I can and do speed down hills at over 40 mph (this year's top speed for me was 42 mph) and I'll pass you like you're standing still (although hearing "what the hell" does make me smile). Going slow up hill does not equate to be "being slow". My overall average was 18.4 mph, Seattle to Centraila my average was 19.8 taking a little over 5 hours. The second half, Centraila to Portland, I averaged 17.0, taking just over 6 hours.

This year I had my fasted STP ever - taking 12 hours 20 minutes total to reach Portland from Seattle!

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Old 07-17-08, 10:32 AM   #8
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# 12) Rear view mirrors. Recommended by the organizers this year and I found mine very useful. It allowed me to see the fast pacelines coming, the big trucks and cars coming, and also it allowed me to swing way out wide into the lane to pass knowing that it was sufficiently clear behind me.
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Old 07-19-08, 09:07 AM   #9
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#13) The weekend of STP will having blazing hot weather.

#14) The weekend after the STP will have perfect weather: cool but dry.
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Old 07-19-08, 02:45 PM   #10
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1) Riding 300-400 miles per month over the prior year made the ride relatively easy.
Question: 300-400 a month is what I'm starting at, but it's all 2x10mi a day, 5 days a week. What's your training schedule composed of?
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Old 07-19-08, 05:00 PM   #11
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I typically ride three, sometimes four, days a week, with a short (recovery) ride of about 20 miles after a long ride (50-65 miles), and a 30-35 mile or so after the short one. That's road-bike miles. When I'm living in Mexico and riding my mountain bike, the miles are less but the time in the saddle is about the same or even longer. I used the Peninsula Century and the Tour de Blast as tune-up rides. The Peninsula was 100 miles and the Mt. St. Helens Tour de Blast was 83. Both have over 7000 feet of elevation gain.

The Cascade Cycling Club's website has a suggested mileage and training schedule for the STP. I never did the back-to-back long rides that they recommend and don't feel it hurt me.
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Old 07-19-08, 07:07 PM   #12
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I'd say you'd probably want to get in a 80-100 mile training ride if you're planning on doing it in one day. You don't have to come anywhere near 200 in training, but it would be idea to get at least one moderate length ride just to evaluate your comfort level.
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