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Seattle To Portland--What To Take?

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Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

Seattle To Portland--What To Take?

Old 03-02-20, 12:01 PM
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bpcyclist
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Seattle To Portland--What To Take?

Hey, guys. Doing this ride in July and it has been quite awhile since I did a longish couple of days ride. I will be doing the 2-day option, 206ish miles total. What should I take exactly? Obviously, tubes, pump (I actually generally use CO2--will this still work on this sort of trip?). Bike is a 2018 BMC SLR02 with 105, extremely well-maintained. Immaculate, really.

I don't really think there are any mechanics along for this ride able to help riders, unlike, say, Cycle Oregon and some other big rides--could be wrong about that, but I think I have that right. So, I need to be prepared. Don't think there will be access to a bike shop along most of the route, which will largely be little bitty towns and middle-of-nowhere.

Not knowing much, my plan was just to take a chain and tubes. But please let me know if there is something more you think I should carry.

Thanks a million!!!!
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Old 03-02-20, 12:11 PM
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Are you camping, or staying in a hotel? (If hotel, so you doesn't have a reservation?)
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Old 03-02-20, 12:40 PM
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I don't think that I'd really alter my normal flat/mechanical kit - I mean, you're really just looking at back-to-back centuries. I don't say that in an attempt to diminish the accomplishment, just that it's not *that* much more likely that all hell is going to break loose vs a typical ride. Extra chain? No way - make sure that you have an extra quick link and a chainbreaker in your tool roll/bag and call it good. Extra tube? Sure. Something to use as a boot? Yeah, but you should have that, anyway.
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Old 03-02-20, 01:31 PM
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Some small bills to pay/donate to the various roadside stands. A spare tire if you don't want a large gash to be the end of the trip for you. One guy I rode partway with last year had repeated flats and fell behind; we don't know why, but it's possible his tire might have had something stuck inside or was just too old. There is usually a mechanic at the major rest stops, so he might have bought a replacement tire at a stop?

I found a battery pack useful to keep my Garmin charged when I did the 1-day. A small one was more than adequate. You may want a larger capacity to keep your cell phone charged if you don't have it on airplane mode/battery saver.

There was only free sunscreen at the first rest stop last year. If it's a sunny weekend, you'll need to reapply multiple times as you sweat it off, so bring some tubes of it with you if you're concerned about UV. I wore sun sleeves and sun knees so didn't need too much sunscreen, but the sleeves were slightly short and slipped down one arm, and I still have a weird dark sliver where there was a gap between it and my jersey sleeve.
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Old 03-02-20, 01:44 PM
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i wouldn't pack anything extra that I don't pack on every ride. Flat kit (CO2, tire plug, tube, lever, dollar bill for a tire boot), multitool. Save for a gnarly crash, I can't see needing anything else.

Riding all of the miles in two days isn't any more strenuous on your bike than riding all of those miles spread out over a week or more.
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Old 03-02-20, 02:26 PM
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A chain? What in the wide, wide world of sports? I once rode across the country with 12 other people. Represented more than 44,000 bike miles in 93 days. Not one chain problem. And that was totally self-contained. Moreover, you say your bike is "immaculate."

BTW...If you look at the website closely there does appear to be mechanical support at the stops.

From the FAQ:"What if I canít make it to Portland? Will STP support vehicles give me a ride home or to the finish line?
No. The support vehicles are on the road to provide emergency services to those riders in need. They will transport stranded riders to the nearest STP food stop or mini stop for mechanical or medical assistance. If the rider is unable to continue, he or she will need to make their own arrangements to get to their final destination." (Emphasis added.)

They are not going to hold an event with 8,000 riders and not have mechanical support. Bring flat-changing stuff, a spoke wrench and maybe a multi-tool. And appropriate clothing.
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Old 03-02-20, 03:49 PM
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Chamois cream, a way to wash your bibs/shorts? A second pair? Your bike will be fine but will your butt be?
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Old 03-02-20, 04:18 PM
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I can confirm there is fine mechanical support at all the rest stops.

I did the one-day ride... my only mechanical issue was when my handlebars rotated in the stem when I hit a pot hole - I probably didn't tighten up the bolts good enough after the airplane suitcase.
BTW - you can't take CO2 on the airplane - checked or carry on. Plan on buying it there and leaving it there.
I brought extra Ibuprofen and Icy Hot and E-Caps. No changes to my normal fix-it kit.

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Old 03-02-20, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Are you camping, or staying in a hotel? (If hotel, so you doesn't have a reservation?)
I had planned on camping with everyone else in Centralia. Is that a bad option?
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Old 03-02-20, 05:06 PM
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Very cool! Reading this as someone who would like to participate this year. Longest ride I've done so far is the Gran Forte last year to Whistler from Vancouver.

BP have you ever done this before?
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Old 03-02-20, 05:59 PM
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I’ve only done STP in a single day. It’s only 202.9 miles and mostly flat, there are no notable climbs. Flat repair kit, CO2, two tubes, and multi-tool are the most you will need. You don’t need a chain. I usually bring a simple first aid kit and hand sanitizer wipes too. You will need a wind breaker and knee warmers as the morning is cold, but usually it is very warm in Portland. Bring money in small bills, there are bike shops in many of the towns and mechanical support at most of the major rest points and smaller rest stops have free water but other snacks will cost a dollar or two (fund raising for local schools).

If you’re looking for a party atmosphere and not sleeping much then stop at Centralia, each time I rode through before noon and it already looked like a zoo, also it is, mileage wise, not quite halfway (like 95th mile or something like that). If you’re doing it in two days I would consider riding a bit further the first day to Napavine and having an bit easier second day without the large crowds. Also, the first big rest stop out of Seattle is nuts too, try to keep riding past to the next one if you can otherwise you’ll be stuck there for at least 30 min standing in line.
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Old 03-03-20, 07:19 AM
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I did STP last year - loved it.

I rented a bike since I was flying in from Maryland and brought my seat and my usual saddle bag with usual tools, etc. No real need for anything more, and there are mechanics at the official rest stops, as well as a few roaming mechanics on bikes. If you are flying, they didn't notice my CO2 cartridges on the way out but getting through security at Portalnd on the way back they took them away.

One thing: check your water bottles and cages. There was an amazing amount of water bottles flying off bikes at some of the bumpy spots, never seen that on even the biggest mass rides I've done!

It was the best supported mass ride I've ever done.
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Old 03-03-20, 11:41 AM
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I've ridden the 1-day a number of times. My list for a 2-day would be:
Complete change of basic bike clothes and spare gloves.
Check the weather the evening before. There have been STPs when it rained the whole way. Be prepared for that if necessary.
Chamois cream
I bring a fair bit of my own food on the bike. I remember eating a rest-stop muffin, paper cup and all, in Chehalis.
It's a pretty good idea to ride more than 100 the first day. You may not feel that great the next day.
My saddle bag always has a spare tire, 2 tubes, a patch and boot kit, quick links, and a good multi-tool. I don't bring anything more.
Your ride packet will have a lot of good info.
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Old 03-03-20, 11:59 AM
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You've gotten much good advice so far, and I echo it.

I did the one-day STP in 2008, and carried my standard kit in a saddle bag. The only thing I forgot was money. I didn't realize that many of the SAG stops were actually put on by local entities (e.g., school groups, teams, fraternal organizations, etc) who provided food and drinks for donations - and so I was a free rider.
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Old 03-03-20, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by GnipGnop View Post
Very cool! Reading this as someone who would like to participate this year. Longest ride I've done so far is the Gran Forte last year to Whistler from Vancouver.

BP have you ever done this before?
Nope. I have done a fair bit of road riding in both states from teenagehood, but never this one.
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Old 03-03-20, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by billridesbikes View Post
Iíve only done STP in a single day. Itís only 202.9 miles and mostly flat, there are no notable climbs. Flat repair kit, CO2, two tubes, and multi-tool are the most you will need. You donít need a chain. I usually bring a simple first aid kit and hand sanitizer wipes too. You will need a wind breaker and knee warmers as the morning is cold, but usually it is very warm in Portland. Bring money in small bills, there are bike shops in many of the towns and mechanical support at most of the major rest points and smaller rest stops have free water but other snacks will cost a dollar or two (fund raising for local schools).

If youíre looking for a party atmosphere and not sleeping much then stop at Centralia, each time I rode through before noon and it already looked like a zoo, also it is, mileage wise, not quite halfway (like 95th mile or something like that). If youíre doing it in two days I would consider riding a bit further the first day to Napavine and having an bit easier second day without the large crowds. Also, the first big rest stop out of Seattle is nuts too, try to keep riding past to the next one if you can otherwise youíll be stuck there for at least 30 min standing in line.
Very helpful--thanks. Is there a place to set up a little tent in Napavine that won't pi** off the local constabulary?
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Old 03-03-20, 03:03 PM
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are you prepared for a broken spoke & wheel that goes so far out of true that it rubs the frame enough to prevent forward progress? that's what I would think about. I'd research all the possible bike shops / repair options along the route & carry the list with me. searching while on the side of the road is brutal. got a ride share membership just in case you need a ride? got AAA? they help cyclists too
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Old 03-03-20, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
I did STP last year - loved it.

I rented a bike since I was flying in from Maryland and brought my seat and my usual saddle bag with usual tools, etc. No real need for anything more, and there are mechanics at the official rest stops, as well as a few roaming mechanics on bikes. If you are flying, they didn't notice my CO2 cartridges on the way out but getting through security at Portalnd on the way back they took them away.

One thing: check your water bottles and cages. There was an amazing amount of water bottles flying off bikes at some of the bumpy spots, never seen that on even the biggest mass rides I've done!

It was the best supported mass ride I've ever done.
Your bottles comment is right on. Not only that, but you'll be riding with some of the least prepared and stupidest riders you've ever seen. Take much greater care than usual. Try to sort of stand back and watch it happen so that you're far enough back that it does't include you. This is much, much worse for the 2 day riders but it's still seen on the 1-day, but mostly before Centralia in the shape of folks with very little experience who ride their first day as fast as they can and get up there with the 1-day folks. I wish they'd put an extra 1/2 hour between the 1-day and 2-day riders. I've had guys on tri-bikes move into a line in front of me. I was out of the saddle and out of there. I never saw anything weird after Centralia. Ride extra smart.

And all that said, the earlier you start and the faster you go (safely) for the first 20 miles, the better a ride you'll have. Usual advice is start slow, but that just gets you back with those folks you don't want to be with. So I always go pretty hard at first and then wait for a paceline of good riders to go by about 2 mph faster than I am, and then not stop in the first 50 miles. Of course you have to be fit enough to do that. My guess is that the 2nd day isn't like that, but the earlier you depart, the better.
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Old 03-03-20, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
are you prepared for a broken spoke & wheel that goes so far out of true that it rubs the frame enough to prevent forward progress? that's what I would think about. I'd research all the possible bike shops / repair options along the route & carry the list with me. searching while on the side of the road is brutal. got a ride share membership just in case you need a ride? got AAA? they help cyclists too
I'm good with tires and chains and most of the basics, but I do not know how to work with spokes. Certainly never personally built a wheel, that's for sure. Guess I better do some research. Great suggestion to make that list of bike shops--thanks a million for that! I'll carry it with me. I don't drive, so no triple-A for me at the moment. But a good thought...
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Old 03-03-20, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Your bottles comment is right on. Not only that, but you'll be riding with some of the least prepared and stupidest riders you've ever seen. Take much greater care than usual. Try to sort of stand back and watch it happen so that you're far enough back that it does't include you. This is much, much worse for the 2 day riders but it's still seen on the 1-day, but mostly before Centralia in the shape of folks with very little experience who ride their first day as fast as they can and get up there with the 1-day folks. I wish they'd put an extra 1/2 hour between the 1-day and 2-day riders. I've had guys on tri-bikes move into a line in front of me. I was out of the saddle and out of there. I never saw anything weird after Centralia. Ride extra smart.

And all that said, the earlier you start and the faster you go (safely) for the first 20 miles, the better a ride you'll have. Usual advice is start slow, but that just gets you back with those folks you don't want to be with. So I always go pretty hard at first and then wait for a paceline of good riders to go by about 2 mph faster than I am, and then not stop in the first 50 miles. Of course you have to be fit enough to do that. My guess is that the 2nd day isn't like that, but the earlier you depart, the better.
My plan was to do what I used to do when I ran ultras--go out much slower than I think I need to be going, then be strong at the finish. But if it's just a complete cluster for 20 miles, maybe I should try to push a little. But that's easy to practice for if I start now. I'm already able to do 100 miles at this point, it's just that second day that I need to really work on--I think.
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Old 03-04-20, 06:54 AM
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I started pretty close to the earliest time for 2 day riders - it was pretty much the usual mass start cluster-f. Not as bad as some local centuries, actually. The first few miles cyclists own the roads so you can spread out. A few miles in you hit a right turn and a short uphill - lots of chain droppers and slow downs - that served to spread things out.

I was feeling good and skipped the first official food/rest stop because it was at less than 20 miles - didn't stop until the next semi-major rest stop at 40 miles. That helped spread things out.

Over the two days (I did 122 miles the first day, stopping at Winlock and the world's largest egg...) the biggest danger was the pacelines that never bothered swinging much to the left, let alone giving out an "on your left" - the casual riders were actually way safer than the high end bikers/pace lines. By going past Centralia on day 1, on day 2 you are ahead of the big bulge of two day riders. On problem though: the big food stop south of Winlock (I forget the town, it is at a high school) doesn't open until a certain time (8am?) so I got there early and had to wait, which allowed some of the Centralia bulge to catch up. But it was still all spread out the rest of the way back.
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Old 03-04-20, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
I'm good with tires and chains and most of the basics, but I do not know how to work with spokes. Certainly never personally built a wheel, that's for sure. Guess I better do some research. Great suggestion to make that list of bike shops--thanks a million for that! I'll carry it with me. I don't drive, so no triple-A for me at the moment. But a good thought...
I only added that cuz I've broken spokes & have had to get bailed out either by my Daughter or a taxi ... & other times been on the side of the road with an issue I couldn't resolve myself, to my satisfaction & wanted a pro, in a shop, to help me. after reading more from others, if this is a supported ride, you have a lot less to worry about because you won't be alone!
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Old 03-04-20, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Your bottles comment is right on. Not only that, but you'll be riding with some of the least prepared and stupidest riders you've ever seen. Take much greater care than usual. Try to sort of stand back and watch it happen so that you're far enough back that it does't include you. This is much, much worse for the 2 day riders but it's still seen on the 1-day, but mostly before Centralia in the shape of folks with very little experience who ride their first day as fast as they can and get up there with the 1-day folks. I wish they'd put an extra 1/2 hour between the 1-day and 2-day riders. I've had guys on tri-bikes move into a line in front of me. I was out of the saddle and out of there. I never saw anything weird after Centralia. Ride extra smart.

And all that said, the earlier you start and the faster you go (safely) for the first 20 miles, the better a ride you'll have. Usual advice is start slow, but that just gets you back with those folks you don't want to be with. So I always go pretty hard at first and then wait for a paceline of good riders to go by about 2 mph faster than I am, and then not stop in the first 50 miles. Of course you have to be fit enough to do that. My guess is that the 2nd day isn't like that, but the earlier you depart, the better.
This. Follow the tandems until you hit the first hill by seward
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Old 03-04-20, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
Very helpful--thanks. Is there a place to set up a little tent in Napavine that won't pi** off the local constabulary?
I see lots of folks setting up tents along the way in parks in some of the smaller towns but I would check with the Cascade cycling club or the STP website to find out what is allowed and where the bag drop sites are located.

I started with the 1 day at 4:45am, it was dark and pretty dense with cyclists already, it took about 10-15 miles before it kind of opened up so I take it easy for the first hour or so and kind of ride with the flow as much as possible before kicking it up to my preferred pace. As usual with any mass start you have your share of folks who seem a bit clueless and definitely not watching out for your safety. Donít assume that people will be calling out road obstacles, passing, or slowing warnings.
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Old 03-06-20, 01:44 AM
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I would stay away from pacelines all together. There are a lot of fit people who never ride with anybody and are just as dangerous as the slower rider who never rides with anybody. Problem with a 7+ person paceline is that if somebody up front pulls a Fred, everyone is probably hitting the deck. Ride defensive and only with people you know.
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