Tuesday, July 17, 2007

STP 2007 - Journey in Pictures

Three of us who started late, none of us had a camera! The first stop on the route was Kent REI - we stopped there for breakfast. Arvind thought it was no big deal

Why take a snap when I'm busy eating? Ravi concentrates on his banana ...

Group snap before we head out after breakfast. Sree needed some squatting - biking 204 miles was not enough exercise for his strong quads.

Mount Rainier was gorgeous as usual ... this view along the route was the highlight for me for the first day.

The Whole Foods lunch stop was very disappointing - very very disappointing.

We had to start anyway with an unsatisfied stomach ...

We took every opportunity to stop, cool-down and eat, while Ankur tried some meditation

Then we entered a nice shaded trail - first time out of road traffic.

The Lake on the side of the trail reminded us of our Burke-Gilman trail that we rode many times during our training rides.

Mount St. Helens was looking amazing in the afternoon sunshine ...

Little before we reached the 1/2 point - another mini-stop. Aparajita was embarrassed that we caught her eating!

Finally in Centralia - 100 mile point! 100 more to go ... Vineet gives two thumbs up to the ice-cream Sree and I are devouring

We felt cheated when we found out that Bethel church (our night stop) was about 5 more miles along the route than where we expected it to be! But we reached just in time for dinner!

It was time to put some ice packs on the sore knees before we head off to bed.

Fueling up for the 2nd day ... however, Aparajita is little suspicious of our plan.

The second day started with the Napavine hill - it was not that bad after all.

By the time we reached Lexington, we were hungry again and had to stand in a long line for food

The Foods was much better than previous day's lunch stop. Sangeetha was very angry that we took her picture, but Sudarshan smelt something fishy

Finally we crossed Washington border and entered Oregon - we conquered the bridge you can see behind us

Climbing up gradual but very long St. Helens hill was more painful - it didn't seem to have any end to it

As we kept going .... and going ...

And then we reached St. Helens School food stop

We started count down - 10 more miles to Portland ...

I finally made it to the finish line!

And didn't mind showing off my finisher badge ...!

It takes an effort to smile after biking 204 miles!

It was time for a shower

A warm shower after a long ride is very refreshing! Getting ready to head back to Seattle - this time not on bike though!

STP 2007

I did it - on my bike, 204.5 miles from Seattle to Portland! Overall it was a great experience and a fun memory that I'll cherish for a long time. Starting from the training rides when many of us started to bike just as a few fellow riders to the point when we really became good friends until the final event this weekend - it was a memorable journey. It is a personal achievement and raising money for a cause that I believe in.

The night before the ride we were supposed to sleep by 9/10 pm. However, we ended up sleeping after 1:00 am and got up around 5:30 am when we were supposed to be at the start line at 5:15 am!! We scrambled and got ready as fast as we could. We were staying at one of our friend's place about a mile from the starting point. By the time we biked from his place to the start line, the last batch of riders had just left - the official start time for the event was already over! Anyway, we put up our bibs and started biking. The first stop was Kent REI, about 22 miles down the route - for breakfast. Even before we reached there, I started getting cramp in my left glut and hamstring muscles. That pain remained the entire ride, which made me take a streatch break every 10/15 miles - that reduced my average speed, but, hey, I completed the ride! The views of Mt. Rainier and St. Helens along the route were definitely the highlights of my ride for the first day!

We were to stay at Bethel Church at night - and for some reason all of us were thinking it was in Chehalis. So when we reached Chehalis and got to know it was at least 5 more miles down the route, we felt cheated! It was already 7:30 pm in the evening and we all were hoping to grab some good dinner after a day's ride. Finally we reached Bethel church about 8:00 pm, checked in our cycles, collected our luggage and ran for the dinner before it was all over!

The next day started with the Napavine hill - it was not as bad as we thought it would be and the banana-bread lady at the end of the hill was definitely a motivating factor! After that started some rolling hills and some more hills! First day was almost completely flat terrain other than the Puyallap hill. But the 2nd day ride was more interesting and had more variations. Our group of 15 riders were riding in few different bunches - but we were mostly meeting up in every major stop. Crossing the Lewis and Clarke bridge over Columbia river was definitely a great experience - not always do you see hundreads of bikers with colorful dresses crossing the bridge when the vehicle traffic is stopped - it was a scene to behold! Finally we made it to the finish line at around 6:00 pm in Portland. I can't describe the feeling of achievement that one gets after completing biking for 204+ miles over 2 days and getting the finisher medel!