Mackie and I woke up and headed over to the cafeteria for breakfast. The volunteers put on a huge spread of pancakes, sausages, eggs, a variety of juices, and coffee. The sky was slightly overcast but it was warm. Hopefully, it stays fairly cool today. I'm sore and I'm confident that I'll make it, but I'm ready to get going.
We spent some time with a gentleman who was riding STP for his first time too. I can't recall everything we discussed, but one thing stuck with me that he said about young people (I seem to recall that he was in his mid-60's. "Old age and cunning will get them everytime". We said our goodbyes, I put on my bike shoes (Mackie brought them from home yesterday), and I heading down the road.
I was with a fairly large group about 7:30ish in the morning and headed out of Centrailia. About 4-5 miles down the road was Chehalis, and then we rode across the freeway and headed for the rollers in the country. Rollers are very small hills where I figured out that if I peddled down the hill really fast that I could pretty much coast up the hill. It was about three hours when I rolled into Winlock.
There was a crowd at least 50 deep for the blue room (porta potty) so I was stuck in line with the rest of them. It went quick and I got on the bike and headed towards Vader. There's a general store that's the next stop in Vader. Of course when we left, there was a hill to climb. It seems like every stop has a hill after it. Interesting at this stop was a girl on roller blades. I've seen her at a number of stops over the past few days. What an incredible feat for someone to go 204 miles on roller blades!
It's easy to get caught up in the peddling and not see the big picture. I'm riding with 10,000 people over two days riding 204 miles. And, most of them are making it. About 2,500 of them ride it in one day; I'll be happy to make it in the two days. It takes a bunch of dedicated volunteers, countless sandwiches, fruit, energy bars and drink, and transportation of luggage that they transport.
Castle Rock was the next stop and it seemed to come up really quick. There was a fund raiser going on at the high school where our stop was. There was about 30 people there, and I was starting to feel pretty sore. But, nothing was going to stop me from finishing now. I'm back on the bike heading for Longview.
We stop at the base of the Longview bridge and marshal into lines to get ready to cross the bridge into Oregon. It was a slow ride over the bridge and I was slow and consistent. I flew over the hill and headed south on highway 30 towards Scappose, Oregon.
Highway 30 is a 55 mile per hour rode, and a lot of drivers didn't appear overly enthused to see us. There was a lot of crap on the road sides, and I got a flat just outside of Scappose. The temperature had really started to rise and there wasn't any shade to cool off. I had a heck of a time getting off wheel off and the tire changes. Remember, it had been quite some time since I'd rode a bike. And, I'm not sure that I ever changed a bike tube before! Finally, I got it on after about forever and headed to Scappose.
I topped off the tube, had a little bite, and headed toward Portland. About 30 miles to go!
Seeing the St. John's bridge brightened my up my day, and I seemed to get a lighter step in my peddling. Everyone around me is tired but happy at the same time. There was people through the route ringing cowbells and cheering us on. In less than an hour it will be over. I'm peddling at an easy place and start up the final stretch towards Holladay Park across the street from Lloyd Center mall.
The path into the park was lined with hundreds of cheering people. Someone past me a finisher's patch medal on the way in. And, there was the lovely Mackie waiting for me at the end. I'm not sure what was better - finishing the ride or seeing Mackie's smiling face. Mackie was so excited that she bought herself a bike outfit and wants to start riding. Who would have known that we'd start this great adventure from this one bike ride. This fall, Mackie and I are riding in the Cycle Oregon week. It's about a 450 mile ride over the seven days!