This was my 5th time participating in the two day ride from Seattle to Portland (STP). It has become a nearly annual tradition to do this ride with some close friends. Our group has shrunk to three, but there is hope to entice a couple new riders for next year. The ride is still difficult to challenge each of us, but still provide a fun day in the saddle. The STP puts a firm date on the calendar to spend a weekend together catching up as we peddle down the road. It always ends up being a good time.
The ride has grown in numbers each year, and this time there were over 9500 riders on the road. This is simply too many riders to support. Though we improve a bit in fitness each year, it is offset by the increasingly long lines at the food and bathroom stops, so we don't seem to roll into town any sooner. Our wonderful support person (the wife) has provided us with Subway sandwiches the last couple of years, but until we start towing our own porta-pottie, we are still stuck standing in line behind the increasing number of riders. It is frustrating, and unless something changes the STP may fall off our calendar of events.
The Seattle to Portland bike ride is one of those events that becomes a goal for many new bikers. Someday...they think. Roughly 20% of the riders on the road are participating in their first STP each year. There are people of all shapes, sizes and ages out there, and it can be a pretty encouraging community. It can also lead to some chaos on the road with so many different skill levels sharing the road. The Cascade Bicycle Club did a better job of promoting safety, and it was noticeably better this year. There were of course still people not following the rules and making it more difficult for everyone, but that is true of almost any endeavor I suppose.
The heat slowed us down quite a bit this time around. We have enjoyed good weather every year so far, but the temps topped 90 degrees this time around and it really sapped our energy. That beer at the finish line tasted that much sweeter.