For Ben's 30th birthday present, I signed him and myself up for the Seattle to Portland bike ride, along with recruiting some friends to attempt the journey with us. I mean, who wouldn't want to ride 204 miles for their birthday? At the time (early February) I figured we had, oh I don't know, five months to train, so it wouldn't be a problem...you know, more about the journey than the destination.
Well the short story is we didn't train. Nope, not at all. The one 40 mile ride to Redhook doesn't count in my mind, since we stopped in the middle for 2 hours and ate nachos. But there we were crossing the start line on Saturday at 6:05 a.m....happy, optimistic, and woefully unprepared.
(At the start line)
The first part of the ride is beautiful. We rode down by Lake Washington and at this point the sun was starting to rise so it was really quite breathtaking. Then the sun went away and it was very very cold, but I had on knee length blue polka dotted socks which kept me warm, and also drew a lot of compliments I found out. Later on I realized that I was kind of a mile marker for people, because for some reason, although there are 10,000 riders, you pass and repass a lot of the same people. Anyways....we stopped at the 22 mile stop and then again at 55, mostly riding all together. Then things changed.
After the Day 1 mid-way point, we seemed to separate and that is when things got tough. Miles 55-70 are along this uber busy highway where you ride single file with a headwind and just your thoughts. Yuck. I stopped at the next stop by myself, and the boys stopped at mile 70 to wait for us. Once there, they took off wanting to make it to Centralia before 4 p.m. I called Annabelle who was a few miles back and not feeling well (stupid migraine), so she opted out which was super sad, but in hindsight probably a smart decision. The sun was starting to come out, and so was the pain. My knees hurt, my legs were worn out, and I won't even talk about my tush...that's saved for Day 2.
(Ben and Allan at the 70 mile stop)
Miles 70-85 were along this cool trail that resembles the Burke-Gilman, and I chatted to the unicorn ladies and other fellow riders I had met along the way. But by this time, I was stopping every 7-10 miles to stretch, rub my knees, and suck down some Gu, or other energy helpers. Thankfully...oh so thankfully I made it to Centralia at 4:15 p.m. To be honest, I really thought I wasn't going to be able to make it the next day. Everything was sore and stiff and my knees were done. I was so tired that I crawled into my sleeping bag at 7:45 and didn't even brush my teeth (a big deal for those who know my teeth hygiene habits). Then as if I blinked, it was 5:15 a.m. Day 2.
(At our camp site, 99.3 miles into the ride)
Day 2 started out...well sore. We popped some Ibprofin and headed out to the Chevron station for breakfast and the bathroom. This is the one thing I would do differently if we do it again. There are tons of organized stops with food and bathrooms, but the lines are stupid and add so much down time which in the end makes you more tired. So Day 2, we only stopped at one organized stop, and instead went to gas stations or other places where there were no lines and no chaos. When you are at a place with thousands of riders and their bikes, it gets a little nuts. Anyways, we started Day 2 at 6:45 and after suffering one flat, we were off through the rolling hills. The first 20 miles to Winlock are amazing. Up and down, up and down, where the ups are manageable and the downs are cruise worthy. This was my favorite part of the whole ride in terms of scenario and pedalability (yes, I made up that word).
This is one of my favorite photos of the trip. If you look to the left of Allan, you will see the world's biggest egg, located in Winlock Washington. We then rode to Lexington where the two nicest ladies were waiting with turkey sandwiches and Cool Ranch Doritos.
Yep, mom and gma were waiting to cheer us on, and allowing us to bypass the chaos at the organized stop a mile back. We took a nice lunch break and then rode through Longview and over the Lewis and Clark bridge into Oregon. I also liked this part of the ride a lot, since I knew where we were. Over the bridge and the sign said 48 miles to Portland. We were 75% done by this point, but my butt was 100% done. Sore, is an understatement.
We rode Highway 30 to Portland, and although the organizers of the ride said there were only two hills the whole trip, their pants are probably still on fire from being liar liars, because the whole damn ride was an incline, especially on Hwy 30. Some guy even passed me and said, "I sure am tired of these hills." Me too my friend, me too.
Once I saw this sight I almost cried with happiness:
Portland was in sight. As I wrote before, I really was worried I wasn't going to be able to do it. We had joked that we would ride to Longview, get breakfast at the Pancake House and my dad would drive us the rest of the way. When we reached Lexington and saw my mom and gma, I knew we could physically do it, but not until I saw this bridge did it really sink in. The fun part of Day 2 was that I kept up with the boys the whole way so we entered Portland together and finished just under 4 p.m....faster riding then the day before.
At the finish line were Annabelle, Jen, Katie, and Mark cheering us across, which was an amazing sight. We were so tired, so sore, BUT....
WE DID IT!
The next couple of days were filled with rest and friends, but this picture of Ben describes how we felt:
If you look closely you will see that Ben fell asleep with one shoe on, and 1/2 a sock hanging off. Happy 30th Birthday Ben, you did amazing!