My Dad and I did the STP this year. It's a 202 mile bike ride from UW College in north Seattle to the eastside of Portland. We did it in two days so we could enjoy the scenery, people and the trip in general. There were abut 15% of the 9000 bikers who made it in a single day, amazing.
It was a fun ride... tough, but fun. First day was definitely a difficult day for me as my training wasn't near what it should have been... oh, and it was hot as hell. The bikers were at the starting line and had been leaving ever 20 or 30 minutes ever since 5:30 am, we left soon after 7 as it took a while to get our group together and all group pictures taken.
The beginning of the ride took us mostly through residential neighborhoods in Seattle... lots of little up and down hills, really nice ride. There were all kinds of bikes and all types of riders. Lots of tandem bikes, recumbents, even a unicycle! There were people who looked totally out of shape, and others who look like Lance Armstrong. Saw quite a few kids too, everyone cheered them on when they passed. Father of the year awards go out to all of the dads that were pulling their kids on a tandem or other type of two seater.
The real tough parts didn't really start until Puyallup, home of the Big Hill. It was a two part hill that seemed to go on forever. I didn't walk it, although my legs and arms were telling me I should. Great feeling topping it as it was the most difficult hill of the whole trip. There were many more nearly as tough, but this one toped them all.
When we hit Centralia, our center point at the 102 mile point, at around 5, it sure was nice to rest the feet and butt. Had some time to chat with some of the other bikers, take in some spaghetti and a few cold ones. It was a much needed break. The next day was much of the same, but I was able to keep up with the rest of the group alot more than I did the first day. I knew where it was going to hurt and I think that helped me get past it and just ride. The "Entering Oregon" sign came faster than I had expected, day went quick compared to the previous day. However, once in Oregon, we were still about 50 miles west from our destination in east Portland. The ride down 30 in Portland was long and hard. There were many cars, the road wasn't very smooth for most of it, and we were so close, yet so far. Both my Dad and I were feeling the burn and ready for the finish line for sure. It didn't take us too long to finally get into Portland and once we did there was a short, super steep hill right in the beginning. STP map planners: that's just cruel ;) I made it up though... didn't walk a single hill the whole trip.
There was a decent crowd at the finish line when we arrived around 5:30pm Sunday evening. They were cheering and making noise as we made it into Hollady park near the Lloyd Center. I got my "Finisher" patch and finally got to see my kid and wife. I actually made it and could hardly believe I was done.
I had a great time, I'd recommend it to some, but not all, people for sure. I'll probably do it next year, but am not committing to anything until the pain goes away from this one. Congratulations to everyone else who made it.