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Old 04-23-13, 02:03 PM   #1
Carloswithac
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Seattle to Portland classic questions.

Hi all, I'm signed up for the Seattle to Portland classic in July. For people that have done this ride what were your impressions? Is it an enjoyable ride? Lot of headwinds? Do I need rain gear?

I'm taking my road bike for the ride, but when it's over I'd like to go mountain biking with a friend that's driving up there with me. Can anyone recommend a bike shop in Vancouver that rents mountain bikes? I would need it for at least two days.

Thank you,
Carlos from California.
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Old 04-23-13, 07:21 PM   #2
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It's a big ride, lots of Bozos, the team riders in pace lines are dangerous, stay away from them and NEVER join in their line or they'll run you out. Start as early as you can, 5:00 am is the best time to start. Probably won't have headwinds, usually the winds are north to south in July. You may need a light rain jacket, but don't take it on the ride unless the forecast is sure of rain. Watch out for pace lines passing you at high speed, never pull out left without looking, and be choosy of the lines you join.

I can't help on rental bikes, you may have to go to Portland to rent a bike.
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Old 04-23-13, 07:40 PM   #3
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Riders passing on left can be dangerously close and "on your left" is not consistently used. 1 day riders roll out early ~4:30-4:45, and 5:00, everybody else at 5:20ish+ as I recall. I was in 2 day ride and most pace lines that past me were in small groups say 5-6 and were in the 17-20 mph speed range. The two accidents I saw were a passing bike clipping the front wheel and taking the rider down and a very bad clip-in fall at a light caused by a rider stopping unexpectedly and the rider behind took a bad fall to avoid a worse collision.
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Old 04-23-13, 08:40 PM   #4
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The first five miles are the most dangerous - many riders of varying experience packed tightly together on city streets with downhills and tight corners. You have to really watch yourself.

Otherwise, as the other posters mentioned, you'll just need to pay attention, especially when passing.

The ride is well supported. It's a fun ride to do with friends. The course is not particularly scenic.

Weather - It's the Pacific Northwest, it could be sunny and 90 one day and 50 and cloudy the next. You'll just need to check the forecast in the days leading up to the ride. Typically you'll get a tailwind (but no guarantees).

Cannot help with Mountain Bike rentals as I live in the Seattle area. You might try posting in the Oregon forum over on mtbr.com
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Old 04-23-13, 09:18 PM   #5
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I'm not sure what you have in mind for mountain biking, but there are rental mountain bikes in Oakridge. Oakridge is east of Eugene in the Cascades and the trails and support are fantastic. There are fun trails (mostly single track) for all ability levels, trees, flowy and mellow. Shuttle drop off service is available and rental and demo bikes. http://www.oakridgebikeshop.com/rent/
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Old 04-23-13, 10:17 PM   #6
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This will be my first year riding STP, so I can't offer any input there.

For MTB rentals, check out Camas Bike and Sport (just a bit west of Vancouver) or Fat Tire Farm (in Portland).
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Old 04-24-13, 07:12 AM   #7
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Thanks all. We won't be riding pace lines with strangers.
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Old 04-25-13, 12:43 PM   #8
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Once you get in 40 or so miles, it really spreads out. Mid point is chaotic is why we ride all the way to Castle Rock. Makes day 2 way easier. If you're not dead set on stopping in Centralia, go as far as you can on day one.
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Old 04-25-13, 04:30 PM   #9
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I last did this ride back in the early 1980's, I think it was the year after Mt. St. Helens had blown. A friend and I did it in one day. I recall that it's mostly flat and quite nice thru southwest WA, especially the roads near Darth Vader, but once you get to Longview, you cross the bridge and then get thrown out onto US30 into Portland. This was the low point of the ride, lots of fast traffic, not much scenery. I keep waiting for them to reroute the section from Kelso to Portland, maybe take it thru Battle Ground & Vancouver, but I'm not sure where they'd cross the Columbia. Anyway, I haven't ridden it since.

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Old 04-28-13, 09:56 AM   #10
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Very well supported ride. Free food every 25 miles (and pay stops between those). No need to carry much on the bike. I had a small saddlebag and one large water bottle.

Good atmosphere, most folks are friendly and not taking it too seriously. The ones who think it is a race are well out in front anyway.

Centralia is a fun stop with thousands of cyclists camping out, beer, music, great facilities. But many prefer to go further than halfway.

Lots of riders of varying speed and ambitions. But other than at the start and stops, two hills where people seem to bunch up, and the Longview Bridge, the road won't be too terribly crowded. I spent plenty of time riding alone.

You will be able to form and join impromptu pace lines if you want to. It is an energy-saving thing to do.

Second day is more scenic than the first. A little. Until you get to Highway 30.
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Old 04-28-13, 05:54 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by lhbernhardt View Post
I last did this ride back in the early 1980's, I think it was the year after Mt. St. Helens had blown. A friend and I did it in one day. I recall that it's mostly flat and quite nice thru southwest WA, especially the roads near Darth Vader, but once you get to Longview, you cross the bridge and then get thrown out onto US30 into Portland. This was the low point of the ride, lots of fast traffic, not much scenery. I keep waiting for them to reroute the section from Kelso to Portland, maybe take it thru Battle Ground & Vancouver, but I'm not sure where they'd cross the Columbia. Anyway, I haven't ridden it since.

Luis
Uhhh... I think you stopped in the town of Vader- it's at the 128 mile point. When I've done STP (it's been a couple years), this was my choice. It avoids the zoo in Centralia, the townspeople put on a heck of a spread (there were leftovers!), and the second day starts with the only hills on the route. You're also not riding with the herd on the second day, so it's more comfortable.

If you're thinking mountain bikes, I would equip them with high-pressure slick tires. These make the bikes almost as good as a "real" road bike.
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Old 04-28-13, 09:03 PM   #12
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I should mention, at Centralia you can go into the student lounge and watch stage 14 of the TdF, 191 km ending in Lyon.
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Old 04-29-13, 07:14 PM   #13
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The last time I did it it was also in the mid 80s. I did the first section to Centralia in 4 hours 15 minutes. I caught onto a paceline that just never let up. I didn't do the 50 mile stop (and there were only stops at 50, 100 and 150 back then). They had to peel me off the pavement in Centralia as I'd never done that kind of riding before or ever since. It wasn't hard as the paceline kept you going, but to do that kind of pace for that long was more than my legs could take. I finished the ride in 10 hours, and that is from start to finish including all the stops. That was the last time I did the ride as I moved back east after that. I've been wanting to do it again ever since and I even signed up a few years ago but then sold my spot. It would cost about $1000 with airfare, hotels, shipping the bike etc... It just isn't worth it. That's not to say it isn't a great ride, just not $1k great. But yet, 3 years ago I took my bike to Seattle for a week in May, stayed at a nice hotel etc... Maybe I should just build it into a vacation...
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Old 05-02-13, 04:11 PM   #14
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Uhhh... I think you stopped in the town of Vader- it's at the 128 mile point.
No, I didn't stop there. I just rode straight thru and enjoyed the roads and scenery in that vicinity. And yeah, I know it's called Vader, but it just screams out to be called Darth Vader...

Luis
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Old 05-03-13, 04:51 PM   #15
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I enjoyed the ride last year, we started late and ended up passing 1000's of riders along the way. Centralia was crowded but seemed very calm and quiet to me.

Carlos - I am from San Diego as well, and riding up here is a bit different. You can get rain, wind, sun, heat, all types of weather, and even in the same day. Be prepared for anything. I used to do the Rosarito - Ensanada, and Tecate - Ensanada, and this is way better! All types ride in this one and 98% are nice courteous riders just out having a good time.
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Old 05-23-13, 01:11 PM   #16
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From Vegas, and did a 2 day STP last year and will ride the event again this year. Everyone I encountered was friendly, the small pace lines that passed us were polite, but we started late. We could not rouse one late night party fool for an early ride start.

Coming from Vegas, the green and cool July weather was very desirable, and the lack of continual 20 mile viability was what I remember the most, (Green & trees were everywhere). There were a number of outstanding wooded vistas in the STP, I was intent on a finish, maybe if i was a much stronger rider and did not need to worry about time I could have captured many Kodak moments. Riding here in the Vegas valley 90% of the time in almost any location we have 20 mile or more viability, with few trees to block a view across the valley.

I enjoyed the Seattle to Portland ride a great deal: the summer weather was amazing from Las Vegas viewpoint, the start was well controlled with many, many cyclists in one location, the lack of technical climbs was welcome, and the long sections through farmland & rolling hills surrounded by forest that were almost deserted. The people that live along the route, participate with enthusiasm, cheering groups, welcome Northwest brewed coffee stands, and one hydration station with a stage for Karaoke performers. I could not believe my ears as we approached a Violin & Haunting Flute performance near the entrance of a small farming community, and further down the road around dozens of turns a surprising melodious organ recital at the roadside ice cold lemonade stand.

Climb Impression: The first hill was not really a hill, but as we left the lake near the start there was a sharp right hand turn up a 100 foot steep incline that came without any approach warning. About 43 miles Puyallup has the honor of being remembered as the infamous "Big Hill". This was an interesting climb, it has a false summit about 2/3 the the way up I did not know about, and many riders were stopped at that location making navigation fun (a genuine climb for most riders: maybe 350 feet elevation under a mile) Napavine delivered a climb of the same intensity as the feared "Big Hill" but shorter, you can see the 90% of the elevation, that in itself is quite different than the "Big Hill". Moving from Seattle to Oregon, the Lewis and Clark bridge is a hill in its own right. The bridge was built high enough to allow shipping traffic to pass under neath. This crossing was well organised and traffic is stopped with police escorts to let a group of riders enter Oregon, after many Washington miles in the pedals. The final climb and bridge crossing before touring the East Side of Portland was a traffic jam horror. The finish line que was welcome diversion prior to being allowed into a lanes with cheering spectators lining both sides of this section of the park in Downtown Portland. I also enjoyed the various bicycle vendors east of the Beer Garden location, and hope there are more companies represented this year.

The ride was wonderful the first day, temperatures that were perfect and unremarkable. On the second day it rained Mid morning, and the branded light weight shell provided was enough protection, or as the northwest locals kept say it was wet fog. In the rolling hills the paint on the road was very slippery during this wet moment, but the roads dried quickly, and the sun appeared as the clouds moved eastward. It seemed everyone became excited and the speeds increase on the downhill sections as the ride continued towards the bridge. Reaching Oregon, the speeds also increased, and with the crossing to the east side of Portland, I can remember a few groups of people cheering riders along, but I was tired and this tour through older style gingerbread neighborhoods became a blur.

No headwind last year, understand prevailing wind direction comes from the North along the STP route. I have ridden one year, can't comment on rain gear if a storm weekend appeared...

My one year ride experience, and great coffee everywhere are memories I shall renew this year...

JR

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Old 05-23-13, 03:30 PM   #17
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I'd be curious to hear what kind of preparation people do for the two day ride. I just did Reach the Beach and riding 25 miles the next day was a struggle. I'd split 100 miles between Saturday and Sunday for a few week before that (60-40, mostly) so I thought I was in decent shape for this time of year. The 109 miles I rode for RtB wasn't bad, but the next day I was feeling it.

I'm not terribly discouraged because STP is still a good ways out and there's plenty of time to prepare. I just want to hear what other people are doing.
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Old 05-23-13, 04:41 PM   #18
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Hi, Im from the NW and have done this ride 2x, 1st time was 08 one day and the 2nd time was last year 2 days. yes, its a fun and well supported ride, just be careful as there are 10-11K+ riders on the road. i believe in the past 10 yrs, it only rained 1 or 2 times, plus its not pouring like the fall/spring rain. IIRC, the first day ride is tiring, and for a 1st time rider like me, it was quite an experience. riding pace line was the time saver, i was polite enough to ask if i can join and did my part to pull others with me. just pick the right pace for you. trainingwise, i rode at least 100-150 a week, with a few commute miles(20-25mi) and long ride on weekends(60-80mi). the two day ride one is a bit easier since i've already done the ride before. same strategy, joined pacelines and took some time to enjoy to ride. i knew there will be lots of peeps, so i bought a small bell that i put on my drops so i dont have to keep yelling "on your left!" all the time and it worked well that i didnt have to expand more energy on yelling. all in all its a good annual ride here in the PNW. this year im training my 13yr old son for his 1st STP, so far so good, but the weather here is crappy lately. so for the 1st timers for this ride, enjoy the ride lots of good people to meet and road to ride!
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Old 05-23-13, 09:22 PM   #19
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For the 2 day ride just remember this: You have just completed a century. You are sore, you are chafed, you just rode more in one day than you probably had all year, and you're going to do it again tomorrow...

I'd rather do it in one day.

The first time I rode it I was supposed to do it in 2, but my boss came to me and told me I had to work that Friday (it used to be Friday & Saturday for 2 day riders, and Saturday only for 1 day. Sunday was the return day.)

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Old 05-24-13, 11:28 AM   #20
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Namida12 has a pretty good take on the ride, coming from someone out of the area.

Always a good idea to have a light wind/rain jacket. Be prepared, be self-sufficient, don't rely on all the helpers and you'll have a better time. When you're training, practice drinking a bottle an hour, eating while riding, etc.

It's really cool to be on the road with so many other riders. Most are pleasant. Some of the groups are not. A mirror on your glasses or helmet is a handy thing.

The route is about the flattest way between Seattle and Portland, not necessarily the most scenic part of the Northwest, but -- about 5 miles in, if it is clear in the early morning, there is a fantastic view of Mt. Rainier across Lake Washington. Further south, more views of it, Mt. St. Helens, and eventually, Mt. Hood. Starting at 4:45 theoretically puts you in front of some faster groups which you might be able to tag onto for a few miles' tow, if they're willing.

The 10 or 15 miles after the first big rest stop - REI - are in my mind the least safe parts. Rather narrow road, has had potholes hidden in shady areas, etc. Keep your eyes open there.

$25 (or so) for a 15-minute massage at the Centralia half-way stop helped me a lot the last two times I rode.

Stop at the top of the Napavine hill for the banana bread (free, but worth much more).

The bridge at Longview is a grind. 150 or so miles into the ride. Make sure your water bottles are firmly seated for the descent, a lot seem to bounce out. No police escort for one-day riders.

Hwy 30 is not terribly exciting, but on the one-day (my experience) not that bad by 5:00 pm or so. When you get to the city of St. Helens, if you're still hungry after the food stop there, look for the Burgerville for the northwest's best chain restaurant burgers.

If the route into Portland goes over the St. John's bridge, it's a real treat as far as views up there.
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Old 05-27-13, 07:53 PM   #21
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Here is last years video of the STP.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEDQW6Kn2Z0
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Old 05-27-13, 08:01 PM   #22
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I should mention, at Centralia you can go into the student lounge and watch stage 14 of the TdF, 191 km ending in Lyon.
Yeah! Exactly what I did last year! A freaking blast. Barely a dozen of us there.
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Old 05-27-13, 08:06 PM   #23
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Well lets see. I fly into Seatac with my bike case and a backpack full of my camping gear. I take the light rail train (that's attached to the airport) and take it to downtown Seattle. Last year I walked to REI to pick up my packet but this year I'm having it mailed to me (worth the extra money). I then walked with all my gear up to UofW (5miles) . No bus would pick me up because of the large bike case (this year I'm going to take a cab.
I stayed at UofW for the convenience of the location of the start line. Accomodations are adequate and people were friendly.
I started the first days ride at 4:30AM and rode to Castle Rock High School (135 miles) which made the second day alot easier (your in front of the traffic coming from Centrailia). I'm staying in vader(125 miles)this year.
It's a great ride, alot flatter than Nevada . Take your time and enjoy the view.
Here is my Youtube of my ride from last year.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEDQW6Kn2Z0
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Old 05-28-13, 04:59 AM   #24
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Well lets see. I fly into Seatac with my bike case and a backpack full of my camping gear. I take the light rail train (that's attached to the airport) and take it to downtown Seattle. Last year I walked to REI to pick up my packet but this year I'm having it mailed to me (worth the extra money). I then walked with all my gear up to UofW (5miles) . No bus would pick me up because of the large bike case (this year I'm going to take a cab.
I stayed at UofW for the convenience of the location of the start line. Accomodations are adequate and people were friendly.
I started the first days ride at 4:30AM and rode to Castle Rock High School (135 miles) which made the second day alot easier (your in front of the traffic coming from Centrailia). I'm staying in vader(125 miles)this year.
It's a great ride, alot flatter than Nevada . Take your time and enjoy the view.
Here is my Youtube of my ride from last year.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEDQW6Kn2Z0
You'll need to find a cab that's big enough to take the case. I did the same as you by taking the light rail, but then found myself downtown and unable to find a cab that could take me. Luckily I called my hotel and they sent a van down to get me. I thought about walking it, but the hotel was on top of Capital Hill and that's a hard enough walk without the bike case and a large wheeled suitcase that also had back straps. To call it a backpack though would be a stretch. I must have done the walk, without the gear, about 10 times that week. When I lived in Seattle I NEVER would walk it, either bus or bike.
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Old 05-28-13, 03:10 PM   #25
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For the one-day riders, when do you arrive in Portland?

I am not a fan of being on Hwy 30 in dusk or darkness, tired, with just a little blinky light. If I ever do it in one day, I'll want to arrive in broad daylight.
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