STP Success.

We made it, had great weather and a great time. The mornings started out a little cool and cloudy, but by noon or so we had full sun. Light sprinkles of rain and mostly tailwinds. All in all, nearly perfect riding weather.

There were a lot of parent/child tandem teams, and one family of five split between a tandem and a triple. A bunch of hand cyclists (trikes that are powered by hand, generally ridden by paraplegics), a few pedaled trikes (one mountain style with 2 kidback tandem attachments), one unicyclist, and a rollerblader.

The course hasn’t changed a whole lot since I did it the one day 4 years ago. It ends a bit sooner by going up and over the St. Johns Suspension Bridge. The road surface on Highway 30 in Oregon is much better now that they’ve resurfaced it. If they’d just do something about the section near Ft. Lewis, all of the really nasty sections would be gone. I only noticed a few hostile light trucks. (I’d say cars, but they were all SUVs or Pickups). The traffic control over the Lewis and Clarke Bridge made that crossing much less dangerous, even though it meant that we were at the tail end of 1000 cyclists going down the bridge. We still got to fly through the 270 degree banked turn at the bottom.

The feel of the ride changed a bit now that I have a stoker. Tandems are fast, at least when they’re not going uphill. They carry much more speed through to the next uphill, so there’s more of a payoff to getting up to speed and power over rollers. There were a few times that we were clearly going 10 mph faster then the singles to the right of us. Thankfully, none of them violated rule #1, don’t get in front of a descending tandem. That’s not to say that they didn’t violate rule #2, which is don’t get stuck behind a climbing tandem. But that’s more their problem.

There were quite a few people who saw a tandem as an invitation to wheelsuck, even when asked not to. This caused a wreck that we passed, where a single bike got crossed up with a triple and went down. We had quite a few people suck wheel, and no one ever really pulled through. After a while, it became a bit of a sport to drop those behind us without doing anything dangerous. A bit of a move sideways and a bit of a jump was normally enough. There was a twit in a blue jersey on a grey Cannondale that just wouldn’t take the hint. He stuck with us through a jump, but then lost interest as we needed to stand up, stretch, and coast for a while. Of course, we did this just before heading up a hill, so when we passed him on the downhill, we were going fast enough that he couldn’t catch on again.

We ended up passing many of the same people over and over, either on the hills or leapfrogging at rest stops. It’s amazing that you recognize so many of the people after riding around them for a couple of days.

I do have a couple of suggestions for future iterations of the ride. When the road shoulder is about to end, it’s good to mark that 15-30 seconds ahead of where it actually happens, so that people have a chance to merge without causing chaos in passing riders and cars.

At the end of a ride, the first things riders think about are food, drink, rest, and showers. The hardest of these to improvise is showers, and they were the most lacking. At centralia, it took asking twice for location, they were a 1/2 mile ride from the campground, and they were $6 each. At the finish line, they were free and obvious but there was an hour long wait for the men.

But I still want to do it again, preferably with several friends on tandems to ride and camp with.

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