Archives for July 2005

2005 Seattle To Portland Bicycle Ride


Last year, when I tried to ride non-stop from Seattle to Portland, I only made it 150 miles before dehydrating.
That story can be found here: 2004 Seattle to Kelso

This year, everything went fine. 
In some ways, the trip actually started Friday afternoon, when I drove down to Portland to have my car there for the return trip.  Normally, the trip takes about 3 and a half hours.  Traffic was horrible, and it took nearly 6 hours to get there.  That meant that I missed the earlier bus I was planning to take back to Seattle.  (The train was sold out – other riders heading North.)  So it meant that I didn’t get back home until close to 11pm, and I still had some prep work to do before going to bed.

When I finally got to sleep, it was about 12:30am, and I would be getting up again at 3:00am to eat a big protein breakfast, stretch my muscles, drive to the starting line, and perform final safety checks on my bike and person, then hit the road.

I crossed the starting line right at 5:00am, and rolled across the finish line in Portland just before 10:30pm.  So that’s about 17:30 hours on the clock to get there.  Some of that time was spent at rest stops, so the total time actually pushing south while on the saddle was 14:22:30.

At the 100-mile mark in Centralia, I was feeling GREAT!  My average speed was 17.7 mph, and I had made it there before noon!  But I made the mistake of having some spaghetti to re-fuel.  The pasta was fine, but the sauce was way to acidic for my stomach.  I kept riding, but for the next 10 miles, I was at a much slower pace because I kept burping tomato sauce.  After about another 5 miles, I was able to resume “normal” speeds of 17+mph.

By around mile 125, I started hitting a wall.  I started seriously thinking about stopping for the night.  However, knowing that might happen, I deliberately chose NOT leave provisions at a midpoint.  I told myself I would make it to Portland, and that I was going to draw upon my well-honed skills of stubbornness to get there.  75 miles of stubbornness?  HA!  I can muster that EASILY!

However, I still had to play lots of mental games to “reframe” the rest of the trip…

  • “More than half way there” only worked for a little while. 
  • “75 miles is not that bad… I’ve done that in an afternoon many times.” 
    (Yes, but you were fresh when you started…)
  • “As soon as I get it down to 64 miles, that’s just like a trip around Lake Washington + Lake Sammamish”
    (Take the short-cut, and don’t do Lake Sammamish this time)
  • As soon as I get it down to 52 miles, that’s just like a trip around Lake Washington”
    (Why would I want to ride around Lake Washington after 148 miles already?)
  • What are these great big bugger-like things that keep showing up on my handle-bars?  Eewww!
      (After 4 years, the leather on my gloves has finally warn through and the gel cushioning was coming out.)
  • “Just let me go another 12 miles… that will put me at 40 to go, which is a trip to Marymoor and back”
  • “OK, 40 miles to go… I can do this. 
    Lets see, at current speeds, that’s only another 3 hours on this #%@*! bike.”
  • At the rest-stop in St. Helens, no sooner do I sit down on the port-o-potty when somebody’s cell-phone starts ringing from down below.  Now there’s a call that is going to end up in voice-mail!
  • “20 miles to go… It’s just like riding home from Marymoor…  I’m in the home stretch now”
    (Uh oh.. it’s getting dark, and I don’t have my lights.  It’s also getting lonely.  Time for another cookie?)
  • I can’t stop now… both because there’s so few miles left, and because I do NOT want to try this again next year!
  • I said I would make it, now make it so! 
    I’m going to make it just because I created that possibility with my word.
  • Where is a good dilithium crystal when I really need one?
  • Look!!  A road-sign saying 13 miles to Portland! 
    Yea!  Woo Hoo! 
    And I get to see another mile marker every 3-4 minutes! 
    Yea for the mile markers! 
    Come onnnn Mile Markers!  
    Mile marker mile marker mile marker….  Be de be de be de!
  • Wait a second… I’m becoming invisible. 
    Wow!  Wouldn’t that be cool?
    Wake up!  This is serious.
    It’s definitely dark, I’m riding on the side of a major highway, and I’m nearly exhausted. 
    I had better put on my jacket inside out, because it’s white on the inside.
    So help me, if some ass hole runs me over when I have so few miles to go, let me tell you, I am going to be PISSED!  So put on the jacked to ward off the ass holes.
    (Personal safety was secondary to ass hole repellent at that point)
  • 10 miles to go.  Just about into the single digits now, but I am SOOOO tired!!
    I’ve had 3 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours,
    my back hurts,
    my knees hurt,
    my shoulders hurt,
    my hair is all itchy,
    I’m covered in dirt and grease,
    I smell so badly that not even the wind keeps it away,
    my feet are on fire,
    and don’t even TALK to me about my rump!    
    I’ve tried every position I can think of, there is not a single position which is pain-free.
  • 5 miles to go.  Oh, how lovely Portland is this time of night. 
    I bet it’s much nicer when I can actually afford to look at it rather than staring at the road for those route-markers.  Thank goodness I hooked up with 3 people with lights and a map.
  • 5 blocks to go!  And look!!!  There’s where I parked my car!  STOP!  STOP!  Get off this crazy thing, turn right and go to sleep in my car!  I’m in Portland already!  That counts!  Just STOP already!
    (No, wait, I can’t do that… 5 more blocks and I get my one-day-rider patch, plus the restrooms.)

So I finally did it.  203 miles in a single day.  It was fun, but it was also rather grueling by the end.  In the words of Mark Twain, “I’m glad that I did it partly because it was worth while, but mostly because I shall never have to do it again.”

While I fully expect I’ll still do the ride again next year, I think I’ll stick to the two-day plan, where the fun-to-pain ratio is a little bit more towards the fun side.

Preparation for the ride consisted of 17 weeks, over 1,500 miles of training and over 100 hours of saddle time.  While I’m glad that I did it, and it was indeed a personal best and huge accomplishment, I’m ready to have my life back and start something new.  Maybe I’ll take up paragliding next.