Anyone Vegas riders planning to ride the STP in July?
I have decided to try and prepare to ride the Seattle to Portland this year and wondered if anyone else has done this, or is planning to travel North for this Non-Race event in July from Vegas...
I looked at this link among the many on-line postings, but want a bit of local experience/ notes of traveling from Vegas north to cross this ride off my bucket list. I would think there are local riders that have participated in this bicycle event. Looking for comments!
I'm currently living in Portland but am moving to Vegas at the end of this month. I did STP last year and would be happy to share my impressions and any tips. I trained to do it in one day but a fairly serious medical issue came up about a week before so I did 150 miles the first day and finished early the second. My overall impressions:
1. Imagine it's probably one of the flattest organized doubles around. The one "hill" that people talk about is a real hill but not that bad (but I have a triple and am not afraid to use the granny gear).
2. There’s a tremendous amount of support available. I believe that there are 3 “official” rest areas where pretty much all food and drink are free. Additionally there are multiple well stocked stops that are sponsored by churches or high schools looking to fundraise and the prices didn’t seem unreasonable to me. There were even a few places where kids just literally had soda and water in little stands on the side of the road. As long as you have some cash on you it would be difficult to run out of food or drink.
3. There’s a LOT of riders, probably too many. Everybody form the racer boys in extended pacelines to people who really aren’t fit enough for the ride and are not familiar with their bikes. Last year I saw 3 people fall because they obviously did not know how to clip out of their pedals. One woman admitted to me she had never actually ridden with the clipless pedals she was attempting the STP on. My point is you need to keep your eyes on your fellow riders and don’t assume they know anything about riding in groups or will even behave like riders who ride very much.
4. The paceline people can be real jerks. A couple of times I was passed by a paceline which was being passed by a paceline which was being passed by a paceline. They won’t give you any room so when you see something up ahead be careful. I ran over a drain grate I normally would have never ridden over because the idiots wouldn’t move to give me any room. Some people were really treating it like a race. If I never do the ride again it will be for that reason, there were too many people acting like they were on a team time trial on a closed road. Alternatively, if I do it again it will probably be with a friend or two to share the work with, not a competitive paceline but more as a little protection from them.
5. Other than the “pros”, most folks were really pleasant and fun to chat with, or at least civil.
6. If you’re going to do it in one day start early, like really early, there’s no reason not to and you’ll get a little separation from the teams who are going to hammer but only for the day and also form the mass of inexperienced riders who will be starting later. In my mind it should either be started 1 to 2 hours before the official start time or maybe an hour after the that start time (if you’re planning on two days and don’t need the whole day for a century). I passed the halfway mark a bit before noon and heard a few people wondering what the heck they were going to do for the rest of the day.
7. The last stretch, from the bridge over the Columbia in Longview can be wicked windy, in either direction. It generally gets more windy the later in the day it is, regardless of direction. That last stretch can also look really hilly but most of that is more an optical illusion than real, that was a major training route for me so I knew it like the back of my hand. Don’t let you mind get fooled in that section.
8. The course is pretty well marked, but the reality is that there are 10,000 people on it. The only time I was even remotely concerned about getting lost was shortly after the start, it was dark and I fell in with a group that got slightly off course, not a big deal but that is a risk of starting early. So many people are taking off early I would suggest getting with a group for the first 10 miles or so, it’s pretty winding and it feels like you’re going in circles.
9. It is fun and worth doing at least once; when you ride through the towns there are so many people out cheering it gives a nice feeling.
Let me know if you have other, specific questions I might be able to answer. Cheers!
Thanks I am certain I will have a few more questions as July gets closer...
Originally Posted by Grimace 2/9
Let me toss out and be the first to welcome your arrival to Vegas. I am not as fit as you seem from your post. I am planning on a two day ride with me son that lives in Portland. I just shipped his bike earlier this week, so he has a proper bicycle to prepare for the event.
Best method to transport us and bicycles from Portland to Seattle for the event, is there a midnight train that get you their in time for an early start?
Thanks for the welcome, I'm looking forward to it. I may sound fit but I'm slow, I can just pedal all day, which is what you really need for STP, *S*.
I do not believe there is a night train, there might be. The train does have a limited amount of bicycle transport capability, from what I hear, but it sells out very quickly, I wouldn't be surprised if it's already all reserved. And speaking of that, you guys already have your spots, right? If not, you need to get to the STP website and see what needs to be done right away. The event sells out almost instantly. A lot of people, myself included, just go ahead and join the Cascade bicycling club since all members are garunteed to have a spot before they open it to the public. It's more expensive like that but I really wanted to do it while living in the area.
The best way I've heard of for getting to Seattle from Portland with bikes is a couple of chartered buses that the Portland Wheelmen Bicycle club arrange for. I can't remember exactly how much they charged but it was reasonable. They rent a couple of Uhaul trucks and load and secure bikes in those for getting the bikes up to Seattle also. If you go to the Wheelmen website I'm sure you can find more information on it but it was easy and fairly cheap, and I know they cater to non club members. The buses and bikes get delivered to the university campus near the starting line. Then there is an option of renting a dorm room for the night or camping on the athletic fields. There are also hotels in the area, but again they sell out quickly. I don't have any more advice on lodging, I was lucky enough to have an aunt and uncle who live about 5 miles from the start line so I was able to crash with them.
The ride orgaizers do a good job with the gear, you can send a bag or backpack ahead to any of the designated overnight sites or all the way back to Portland so even if you wanted to camp the night before but didn't need all your gear the second night they'll get your stuff back to Portland and keep it relatively securely, I wouldn't send along a wallet, phone, or anything that is truly irreplaceable but I sent clothes, shoes etc, and I saw a lot of people sending camping gear.
Let me know if that helps and feel free to post again or send me a private message with any more questions.
Yes, I have a spot... That part has been accomplished...
Did not make the ride last year, but again have an entry spot before it sold out, am planning to do a two day ride, with a stop in Vader overnight. This is a two day ride event I want to complete, and the weather should be much cooler up north in July than here in Vegas.
I certainly enjoyed the STP ride. Stayed overnight in Vader, WA and the people were a delight and made me feel welcome. I will ride this event again next year, and hope the weather cooperates as it did this year. The three hill were all different, and the many different ages, costumed bicycles/people, skill levels that participated in this ride made for a fun weekend (I was surprised to see so many bicycles in one place at the first feed stop in Kent, WA. the numbers were simply overwhelming) I also liked the weather change, was much cooler than staying in the Vegas Valley, and green for a dominate color was a welcome, I enjoy the open vistas we have in any direction and missed them after a week of not seeing anything but green trees and undergrowth. I fell in love with the many different coffee roasters, discovering the Pearl district in Portland (yes, Starbuck coffee is much better in Seattle and Portland, guess they must compete with many local roasters).
I liked the Portland Free Transportation zone that encourage people to explore their city.
Portland and Seattle are certainly Bicycle Nirvanas, with many bicycle racks full in all shopping establishments I visited, and on every block in the city. I road the bicycle often on the streets of Portland, and traveled by Max/train often with my bicycle, it was quite nice to experience the courtesy from most all motorist in both cities, it was quite refreshing & different from large percentage of the auto/truck drivers here in the Vegas Valley.