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Old 06-24-13, 12:38 PM   #1
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STP Survival Plan?

My cousin is flying out from the East Coast to ride STP with me. We've both been training like mad for months, but this weekend he crashed pretty badly into a guardrail -- the usual road rash, plus a punctured thigh and a nasty looking football-sized bruise above one hip. He says he's not so worried about the actual injuries but he's concerned that the associated loss of fitness might take him out of the ride. He hasn't given up just yet though.

My cousin is fairly young (34, I believe) and generally very athletic. He's a triathlon guy and in years past has done the kinds of rides that advertise crazy steep climbs (for instance: http://www.winthefight.org/savageman...port_Wall.html). I have only seen a picture of his bruising (which is really bad), but I think it's possible that he could pull this off anyway.

On the other hand, I've done enough PNW rides to know that you can't trust people when they tell you a ride is basically flat. I've never done STP before, but I hear a lot of people say it's not an especially hard ride. It looks like day one has one big climb, and day two has a bunch of short steep spikes. I have a hard time translating that into cumulative difficulty without having done it.

So I what I'm looking for is a voice of reason one way or the other. Is this ride easy enough that a fairly fit person can manage it three weeks after an injury? Or is it hard enough that this might be a deal breaker?

As a Plan B, and I realize this might be just plain stupid, I think I might be able to get access to a tandem. Neither I nor my cousin have ever ridden a tandem before. How dumb would it be to spring that into the plans at this late date?
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Old 06-24-13, 01:18 PM   #2
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My cousin is flying out from the East Coast to ride STP with me. We've both been training like mad for months, but this weekend he crashed pretty badly into a guardrail -- the usual road rash, plus a punctured thigh and a nasty looking football-sized bruise above one hip. He says he's not so worried about the actual injuries but he's concerned that the associated loss of fitness might take him out of the ride. He hasn't given up just yet though.

My cousin is fairly young (34, I believe) and generally very athletic. He's a triathlon guy and in years past has done the kinds of rides that advertise crazy steep climbs (for instance: http://www.winthefight.org/savageman...port_Wall.html). I have only seen a picture of his bruising (which is really bad), but I think it's possible that he could pull this off anyway.

On the other hand, I've done enough PNW rides to know that you can't trust people when they tell you a ride is basically flat. I've never done STP before, but I hear a lot of people say it's not an especially hard ride. It looks like day one has one big climb, and day two has a bunch of short steep spikes. I have a hard time translating that into cumulative difficulty without having done it.

So I what I'm looking for is a voice of reason one way or the other. Is this ride easy enough that a fairly fit person can manage it three weeks after an injury? Or is it hard enough that this might be a deal breaker?

As a Plan B, and I realize this might be just plain stupid, I think I might be able to get access to a tandem. Neither I nor my cousin have ever ridden a tandem before. How dumb would it be to spring that into the plans at this late date?

Sounds like just a flesh wound. Walk it off!

Seriously, 5th consectutive year and I'm 44. Puyallup hill short but manageable. South of Centralia is rolly polly but manageable. Are you doing the 100-100 split? If he's worried about being stiff on day two, ride as farth south on Saturday as possible and make Sunday a cruise day. We ride to Castle Rock on Saturday, sleep in Sunday and still get to Portland at a decent time. It is honestly one of the flattest rides you can do in Washington.
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Old 06-24-13, 01:31 PM   #3
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Here is the elevation profile. It's something like 3000 feet of cumulative climbing in 202 miles. Not dead flat but not crazy hilly either.

The advice to go as far as you can on the 1st day is good advice. Try to knock out 130 or 140 if you can.

Your cousin is young. Sounds like he's pretty fit. Go for it!

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Old 06-24-13, 01:40 PM   #4
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Right now we've got spots reserved in Chehalis. I'm not sure about the feasibility of changing that this late in. I have until Saturday to cancel that reservation with a refund, but can I still find a spot down the road?
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Old 06-24-13, 04:46 PM   #5
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Right now we've got spots reserved in Chehalis. I'm not sure about the feasibility of changing that this late in. I have until Saturday to cancel that reservation with a refund, but can I still find a spot down the road?
Hows your gear getting transported from start to middle to end?

You should still be able to go through Cascade website for gear movement and the farther south you go, the more likely you are to find open spots.
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Old 06-24-13, 08:05 PM   #6
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As long as a storm doesn't come in and create a south wind situation, it's about the easiest 200 mile ride possible in the west. Any reasonably fit person should be able to complete the ride. I wouldn't worry about any loss of training on his part.

As regards your considering riding a tandem with him: Bear in mind that you will be surrounded by thousands of riders who have never been around two people who are learning to control a tandem and have no way to know that you don't have any experience with one. Tandems are fun (my preferred ride), but the stoker needs to be a quiet rider if the captain is going to be able to ride one in a group. I strongly recommend against using one on this ride unless you can get at least a week of practice with it. If you decide to go the tandem route, have whoever is stoker do some work on rollers.
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Old 07-08-13, 07:50 AM   #7
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Andy K.,
Your Question: Is this ride easy enough that a fairly fit person can manage it three weeks after an injury?

My Question: has he been riding again?

I was run off the road and crashed hard 4 weeks before last years event and I am old. I did not have a puncture wound but scraped a lot of skin off, and had a swollen leg that I had to elevate for the week, but I managed to do a number of short rides working through the pain the next week and finally got back to training schedule on the third week, and spent the week before the ride in the cool northwest with one short bike test ride.


I managed to get lost on the ride testing my bicycle assembly. With all the trees and no long valley visual like we have here in Vegas I took several turns that were not on my planned ride and ended up lost big time. I enjoyed the STP ride immensely since it is not a race. I was slower and I opened my eyes more to enjoy both the the people and cooler weather in the area, and helped several with bicycle troubles along the way...

My Two Cents: I would not plan on learning to get comfortable riding a tandem in the event without 10/15 or more hours of practice riding together.

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Old 07-08-13, 07:45 PM   #8
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Yeah, he was back on the bike last week and managed a 64-mile ride this weekend with just a bit of cramping. My moment of panic has passed. I suspect he might suffer a bit, but he'll make it.
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Old 07-09-13, 07:47 PM   #9
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He should be fine with his prior training and the recent long ride. I've done it twice in one day with my longest training riding being 38 miles both times. That was in my mid 20's though. If your training rides include some rolling hills you're all set. Plus there are plenty of groups to rotate drafting positions with.
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Old 07-16-13, 07:48 AM   #10
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I am still in the Northwest, wondering how he managed the event?

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Old 07-16-13, 11:00 AM   #11
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It turns out you can do this ride on sheer will power alone.

On top of everything else, he had some bad Thai Thursday night and we spent half the day Friday in an ER in Olympia as doctors scanned for a kidney stone. When the scan came back clean he asks the doc, "So would it be a bad idea to bike from Seattle to Portland tomorrow?" This after having already been told to stick to clear fluids for the rest of the evening (which he did). As I was at the Olive Garden loading up on pasta and breadsticks, he had two bowls of minestrone broth.

Saturday morning we went out for a big breakfast and ended up getting to the start line very late. We missed the baggage truck and had to carry the midpoint essentials in those STP bags you get from registration (luckily I had picked up our packets at REI last week). We got on the road about 8:45, needing to take it easy as he was still feeling weak. On day 1 every rest stop was either closed or in the process of closing as we got there. We were fortunate enough to catch the box of PBJ sandwiches as it was being taken away at the lunch stop in Spanaway, so we filled our pockets with those and made it to Chehalis around 7 PM. Most of the day I was sure he was going to call it quits no later than the midpoint.

A big pasta dinner at St. John's Lutheran in Chehalis and a good night's sleep turned things around. We got on the road by 6 AM on Sunday and both of us were feeling strong most of the day, hand and foot aches being the biggest challenge. A huge shout out is due to a couple of guys from Grupetto Cycling, who were leading a group we caught onto for about six miles between St. Helens and Scappoose when the mental fatigue was starting to set in. We rolled into the finish line around 3:30 loving life.

While I'm on the subject let me say that we got a lot of help on the first day from people who came out to watch riders go by and stuck around all day. Twice we got water from people who were just out to provide encouragement and stuck around for the stragglers. If anyone knows any of the folks who did that, give them a big hearty thanks and let them know how much it was appreciated. Obviously we said so at the time, but just once isn't thanks enough. They saved our ride.

So, how did your ride go?
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Old 07-16-13, 12:41 PM   #12
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One day for me this time, got off to late start, 6am, four of us started... Guy in our group flatted about 25 minutes in, just had seen another lady flat minutes before. She ends up joining us for the ride, making 5 total. Pace was great, rotations good, all going smoothly until about 6 miles south of the Spanaway rest stop. We got behind a group that was moving at a good clip, a bit jerky, but doing about 22. Someone up front jams on brakes, line breaks, and buddy goes down into the road. Truck swerves, but the rear tire runs over his ankle! Ambulance, police, mess - sucked. We were about to throw in the towel, when he says "enjoy the rest of the ride". On we go - down to 4.
Make it to midway point a little after 12, lose gal that was riding with us (she was doing 2-day), down to 3 riders, and now very wary of joining other pace lines. About mile 110, it is evident that one in our group was not able to keep up, he drops back, we are now down to 2 riders. We leave the 140 mile stop, and agree that St Helens will be next rest. I accidentally drop him, fatigue was setting in and I zoned out and just kept pedaling. Plus the tail wind was nice, drafting was not as necessary. I make it to St Helens about 6pm, get food water, ready to go, wife says I should wait. Friend finally shows up and we hit the road about 6:35 (uggh, was hoping to be done by then). Someone tells me it is only 28 miles from there, so I plan on that, was actually 32! 2 miles from finish I hit the WALL - never experienced that before. I make it to finish about 8:15.
All things considered it was a good ride. Would have been much quicker had I not had people to worry about and an accident, but I had to remind myself it was not a race, and I was there to be social as well. Everyone involved was great, especially when the accident took place. Ride refs, police, ambulance, could not complain one bit. Wish we would have all finished together, but it is a tough one day ride!
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Old 07-16-13, 12:49 PM   #13
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Congrats to you and your cousin! Wow, that is survival!

I did it in 2 days, 100/100 split. Lowlight was the helicopter landing in the field near my tent at the start line ~4AM... Highlight was everything else.

What bike did you ride? LHT? Kona Jake? (I rode a kona zing)
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Old 07-16-13, 02:23 PM   #14
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rearviewbeer I'm not sure where you passed me but you did. I think I saw the guy with the broken ankle. My ride report.
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Old 07-16-13, 03:57 PM   #15
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Looks as though you went right by us when the ambulance was there. It happened just after 9:30 am on 507. I am thinking I would have passed you somewhere around Longview... There was a pretty healthy tailwind for me most of the way in OR, drafting was not really that helpful at that point.

That is cool you were able to do it with your son. I think I may take my 12 year old next year on the 2 day adventure.
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Old 07-16-13, 06:52 PM   #16
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1st STP for me, and a 1 day finish with 11 1/2 hours on the bike. I rolled out at 4:45 with the first wave and joined pace lines nearly all the way to Portland. That was the best part for me, sizing up a group and latching on. I bailed on several that were sketchy, some that were too long "slinky effect", but rode in some nice lines for miles on end and made great time with them. Plenty of carnage here and there, lots of flats sidelining riders, etc. I can hardly wait until next year.
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Old 07-16-13, 08:30 PM   #17
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I came across the accident scene just as the med van was pulling away. Hope your buddy is ok cause the rumor was a bike vehicle accident that didn't sound good.
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Old 07-16-13, 08:54 PM   #18
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Second time for me.

Rode day 1 with my son who just turned 14. He had only done a 50 mile ride before, but is very fit so I thought he'd make it. His shoes gave him problems, foot cramping and numbness. But he massaged them out over and over, and kept going, fueled with the free Cliffs gels, and finished his first century. 13 mph avg speed. My wife met us at Centralia and took him home, as he had a summer camp to get to the next day.

I camped with two friends and we rode day 2 together. We weren't perfectly matched but the fastest guy stopped every 15-20 miles or so and only had to wait a few minutes for the rest of us. 17 mph avg speed. I had a lot of gas left. Last year, I was so tired on Hwy 30 by the time the gradual upgrade at Sauvie Island started. This year, I was doing 20 mph there, enjoying my second wind. Then we crossed the St Johns bridge and suddenly I was pooped. It was psychological, I felt that I was back home already, and let my guard down. Still made it in decent shape.

This year was easy - no headwind, no rain, not too hot. Very pleasant. I like staying in Centralia, hanging out at the beer garden and watching the TdF. Despite the efficiency of going to Castle Rock or where ever, I think I'll keep stopping at Centralia for the 2 day rides.

I don't know about ever doing the 1 day. I'm not sure I want to work that hard . . .
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Old 07-16-13, 10:07 PM   #19
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What bike did you ride? LHT? Kona Jake? (I rode a kona zing)
I was on the Ridley Excalibur. He rode my LeMond.
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Old 07-22-13, 03:45 PM   #20
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This year was my second year riding it. Did it in two days, 100/100. Had to ride my cyclocross bike on it due to some issues with my other bike. Bike did just fine though. I felt great, no problem, not that I expected any. I plan to do it in one day next year.

I heard about the ankle incident. Hope he is ok. That is the thing about that ride, lots of people and you just have to look out for yourself. Safety in numbers kind of doesn't apply to the STP. You get to a point when more people is just not better. Great ride as long as you pay attention to your surroundings and accept the fact that you are riding with 10,000 of your closest friends....
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Old 07-23-13, 10:32 AM   #21
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Hi glad you guys had a safe ride and experiences to share. this is my 3rd STP, my 1st ever ride was 1 day, from now on will do the 2 days at it is more enjoyable. rode it with my son who just turned 13 this year,did 90+ on day one(did not want to deal with UW traffic), and 105 the next day. We trained hard together, mostly hills and fast rides avg.15-18mph since april. he held well and had a great time. Met a lot of good folks and some snobs too, but all in all it was a great ride as i know what to expect.

We had a minor mishap in the St. Helens area, my son got caught on the gaps on the road and tried to correct it and hit gravel and next thing you know he hit the pavement. good thing he had the presence of mind to fall with the bike and didnt stick his arms out, the bike took all the damage him having just a small scratch. i fixed the bike on the spot and 10mins later we were on the road again. I just want to thank the other riders that stopped and helped him up as i cant remember their bib#'s or their faces as i was tending to my son. funny thing was they thought he has my brother or something and asked me if we need to call somebody/parents, and i said he's my son and they just took off!

Keep on riding! and see you guys on the road.
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Old 07-23-13, 10:37 PM   #22
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Great ride as long as you pay attention to your surroundings and accept the fact that you are riding with 10,000 of your closest friends....
Aside from the rest stops closing before I got to them and missing the baggage truck, there was actually something to be said for starting extremely late. I got to spend a lot more time gawking at Mt. Rainier and Lake Washington than would have been safe earlier in the day.

On the other hand, the atmosphere of a large ride is always fun. The second day crowd heading out of Chehalis at 6 AM was about the right size. I wouldn't be surprised if that was 1/3 of the volume near the start on day 1.

I didn't mention before that I got a flat in Puyallup from a thumb tack in the tire. I didn't think much of it at the time, but I read on the Cascade site that a lot of people got flats there. It made for a nice break before "The Hill".
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