Mile 0: By my standards, we started early on the STP day! At 7:00 am 5 of us were flagged off from the start line - that's almost 1/2 hour before the start line closes! The rest of the Asha gang had already started almost an hour back.
I forgot my Asha bib at home (hushh - don't tell Raji!!) - but the others were proudly showing their yellow Asha bibs on their back along with the STP bib.
Mile 7: The morning was beautiful and we enjoyed riding on the side of lake washington with views of always gorgeous Mt. Rainier.
Mile 24: First food stop was REI at Kent and we reached there by 8:30 am or so. REI stop was, as usual, very cheerful atmosphere with energetic volunteers and good food! We met some of the other Asha-riders and posed for a quick group snap. By then a cat had already crossed Jay's path and he had a fall. The cat survived! :-)
As usual, there were loooong lines for honey-buckets!
As we rode south from REI stop, we could see Rainier right infront of us.
Mile 43.1: First big hill is Puyallup - which the STP booklet refers to as "THE HILL"! Well, after all the hill trainings we did, this was still tough, but nowhere close to Inglewood hill.
Mile 53.2: Finally we reached the lunch stop at Spanaway. Dave's killer bread was, as usual, amazing and with peanut-buteer and Jelly - yum! We reached Spanaway around 12:00 noon - took a long break and finally started around 1:40 pm from there.
We were now south of Rainier - stopped on the side of the road to take a look back at Rainier.
Mile 98.85: We took some mini-stops in between and finally reached Centralia - the mid-point stop around 6 pm. Unfortunately the free ice-creams and chocolate-milks were already over by then ... so we bought some ice-cream to console ourselves.
Our Saturday night stay was in Winlock - in a private house. We had to take a detour from the official STP route to get there (and remind you, that was kinda hilly!) and on the way we passed some farm houses which looked beautiful in the evening sunlight.
This is the house where 16 of us stayed overnight - it was definitely a fun experience! However, we had to ride about 2 miles extra because of the detour!
Mile 143.9: Because of our detour we missed world's largest egg in Winlock. After a few small stops at Vader and Castle Rock our 2nd day lunch stop was at Lexington park. We had to stand in long lines waiting for food.
After lunch when we headed towards columbia river, we had the first flat tire in our group (and thankfully the last one). One person took this opportunity to take a nap on the road-side while the others fixed the flat! Guess who?
Mile 151.1: Finally we reached at the Lewis and Clark bridge on the Columbia river. They open the bridge to cars and wave of bikers alternately - so we had to wait in a long line of bikers waiting to go over the bridge.
Though it can be risky, it is also fun to go over this long bridge with hundreds of bikers all round you!
Once you go up on the bridge, the reward is the downhill ramp.
Posing for a photo with the bridge behind us - we crossed Washington state and entered Oregon. About 50 more miles to go!
Mile 172: I had an accident. Few riders in front of us suddenly slowed down without any signs. I was close behind them and had to sway on my right to avoid hitting them. But that part was a very rough, dry gravel patch and the next thing I know I was on the ground. When I tried to get up, I couldn't even stand and had to sit immediately because of the pain on my hip. For a moment, I thought I won't be able to finish STP this time. Sankara, Pratheep and Vijay helped me dress my wounds in my legs and hands. After sitting for a while I was feeling better and also I was not mentally prepared to call it off when we had just about 30 miles to go!
Mile 173.85: I managed to get to the food stop at St. Helens high School which was only about a mile away from where I fell. I got my wounds properly dressed in their firstaid booth, took some ibuprofens, rest and food and was all ready to complete the rest of the 30 miles!
The weather was not really with us this time. Saturday was very hot with temperatures hoovering around 85 degrees. On sunday it was about 10 degrees cooler and rainy. We were about 10 miles away when the drizzles started looking more like proper rains and biking shoes felt like puddles.
Mile 202.3: All drenched, we finally made it to the finish line around 6:30 pm. Because of adrenaline rush and Ibuprofen I was almost oblivious to my pains and showed off my finisher medal proudly!
We pick up our luggage and posed for some more photos with other riders! It was time to freshen up and get back to Seattle, this time in a car!
In 14 hours and 12 minutes of biking (not including any time for stops) with an average speed of about 14.4 miles/hour I burned more than 10,000 calories, and sure got much more from all the calorie-rich food we ate all the way!
All this effort is to raise funds for the projects Asha Seattle supports in India. Asha Seattle is in a funding crunch this year - we need to raise $925,000 so that we don't need to do any painful cuts from our projects. With more that $550,000 either pledged or donated we are already half-way there - but we still need to raise the other $375,000 by the end of the year. This was one of the primary reasons I decided to do STP this year. Please consider donating from my profile page. Your donations to Asha are 100% tax deductible and 100% of the funds raised will go towards projects in India since Asha volunteers bear all the administrative costs of the organization.