Posted: Tue May 27, 2008 7:04 am Post subject: STP 2008 - You Ready?
In past years, I've always posted up half a year or so in advance the intentions to ride the STP, but have not yet had a riding companion on the full trip. For me, riding solo is perfectly fine -- this trip is no pleasure cruise! And I never do feel "alone" because it's actually a steady stream of conversations with all the passing cyclists. In the end, I find the entire experience exhilirating and fun. The journey itself is the pinnacle of the trip, and arriving at the Portland destination comes all too soon. To have another boarder or two to share the ride with would be icing on the cake.
Each year the tickets are selling out sooner, and many bikers make up their mind to commit to STP based on how well they finish their Century rides in May or June. The $85 registration takes care of food, first aid stations, police and city cooperation efforts, and the bus carrying your bags to your overnight destination -- and it supports cascade.org, which aggressively pushes through legislation throughout the year to make sure distance commuters like ourselves have rights on the roads and trails.
In total, the cost for riding this year will run about $160. That's $85 for registration, another $55 for the return bus from Portland to Seattle, then another $15 or so for the lodging (depending where you stay) which typically benefits a local FBLA or other organization.
Bottom line: If you're game, Register Now! Registration cost goes up after the start of June!
Castle Rock High School Gym – Located near mile 134 on STP route. A $15 per camper fee includes indoor/outdoor camping, indoor bike storage and showers (towels not provided). A licensed massage therapist and first aid station will be available. Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) will have a concession stand open Saturday at noon to 10:30 PM and Sunday at 5:30 AM to 12:30 PM. FBLA will also sponsor a spaghetti dinner Saturday evening, which will include spaghetti, roll, salad, and a drink at a cost of $8 to be paid at the door. The Castle Rock FFA chapter will be hosting a breakfast Sunday morning. Items available for purchase include pancakes, eggs, sausage, fruit, muffins, juice, milk and coffee. Please indicate the names of all campers with the payment, and an email address for faster confirmation of your check received (if possible). A paper copy of the confirmation will be sent as soon as possible in your self-addressed and stamped envelope. For more information, call Scott Wiard at (360) 560-7630 or email to email@example.com. Official STP baggage drop-off/pick-up site for the Castle Rock truck.
* For reservations send a self-addressed, stamped envelope and $15 check payable to
Castle Rock High School FBLA, c/o Scott Wiard
P.O. Box 582
Castle Rock, WA 98611
The important thing is to come mentally prepared. The bike stops will not be carrying bearings, bushings, or skate tools, so you'll need to think like a survivalist -- you are on your own, and you'll need to be your own sherpa.
Even though the support stops are an absolute lifesaver, they're spaced out farther than you will find comfortable, so you'll have to pack adequate water and energy boosters/snacks on your body. This year I'm going to carry only one bag, the CamelBak. Past years I wore two hip pouches and carried water in bottles. However you prefer to travel, just remember that hydration is your #1 priority.
Check the Ultraskate Prep thread for more thoughts on things to take along and mental preparation.
If you do buy a registration off another rider, you should get a mail with header like this:
-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------
From: "Kim Thompson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Group Health Seattle to Portland Confirmation
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 23:37:16 +0000
> - COMFIRMATION -
> Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic 2008
> STP Rider : James Peters
> Your STP ride bib number is: 6927
> Included with your STP registration, you will be receiving:
> Jacket - L
> Bus - Sunday PM
> Congratulations! You are registered for the Group Health Seattle to
> Portland Bicycle Classic on July 12 - 13. To get your rider packet (if you
> did not choose to have it mailed - see above), please print this email and
> bring it to packet pickup. You may also pick up packets for friends and
> family if you have a copy of their email confirmation. You can also pick up
> your packet with a picture ID, but be prepared to wait.
Some coverage in the Journal newspaper on the upcoming STP--
Health & Fitness
North Seattle longboarder to ride to Portland
By: Tom Keogh, Journal Newspapers
You know it and I know it: The price of gas at the pump is well north of $4 a gallon, and no one knows where it will end. It's time to think about transportation alternatives: carpooling, busing, bicycling, longboarding ...
Longboarding? Think of a skateboard, only longer (up to almost three feet), wider and more pliable than the kind of board associated with, say, Tony Hawk. While it's not unusual to see skaters ride more familiar shortboards for blocks or even miles in a city, longboards better handle truly great distances.
"I average between 50 to 100 miles a week commuting by longboard," says James Peters, a software engineer who lives in North Seattle. "I sometimes throw in a 20 to 30 mile ride on a weekend going to Redmond, Auburn or Everett, varying the terrain and keeping things interesting. The daily commute, even though it has a healthy side effect of exercise, is really one of the most enjoyable times of the day for me."
In other words, one can get to and from work via longboard, and still not get enough of it. In fact, one might even say this kind of transportation has a secondary purpose: training, perhaps, for an athletic event.
That's essentially what Peters is doing, meeting his daily transportation needs and getting ready to participate in Cascade Bicycle Club's 29th Annual Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. Sans bike.
"I plan on longboarding the STP again, for the third time," said Peters. "I'll launch as early as possible, with the first wave of bikers leaving Seattle, then keep a moderate pace throughout the day and reach Castle Rock for the night. Then I'll start out early again Sunday, finish the ride in the early afternoon and have time to relax with friends before the drive back. Then back to work on Monday."
North Seattle resident James Peters not only commutes by longboard, but plans to ride all the way to Portland in the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic this month.
A longboard, Peters says, is bigger than more familiar-looking skateboards. The deck is longer, often made with flexible wood like birch, and is more sophisticated in construction than shortboards. Fiberglass, epoxies and carbon fiber pressed together with wood form a "snappy" deck, rather than a rigid, maple skateboard.
"Wheels are generally bigger and softer," Peters says, "for better momentum while gliding over rocks and other obstacles. The kick-nose on a longboard is usually non-existent. The trucks are also looser, allowing the board to turn quickly and carve down hills more smoothly."
Peters, 40, says part of his motivation for participating in the STP is emerging interest in longboarding's potential for serious travel.
"Our local long distance community is small but slowly growing," Peters says. "I have a group of friends who meet up for weekend rides. Most in my age group are committed to family and work schedules, which is why I pursue the long-distance-in-a-single-weekend type of activities."
But there is another breed of longboarder, says Peters, who have accomplished some truly amazing feats.
"There's an intense interest in distance," Peters says. "I've met a number of younger longboard skaters who have made some really long, epic rides, usually incorporating a charity in their plans. Sheldon Lessard, a good friend here in Seattle, rode the entire length of New Zealand earlier this year, over a couple months, with a group of five others. An acquaintance from California, Trevor Gibson, skated the West Coast from Mexico to Canada last year."
Peters says his own ambitions have to fit the realities of his life.
"The STP works out for me," he explains. "The weekend schedule is work-friendly, and my wife is not all that crazy about me going on an epic, solo cross-continental longboarding trek along busy freeways. The organization and sheer crowds in the STP give her some peace of mind that safety risks are somewhat reduced."
Peters says he first thought about attempting the STP in 2005.
"The first time I asked for permission was that year," he says. "I was accepted, but I wasn't mentally ready for the trip. So I asked again in 2006, then psyched myself up for it. Physically, I had very little concern. It was all about the mental game of committing and doing it."
"Doing it" right has a lot to do with the specific technique of riding a longboard. Most of us associate skateboarding with a pushing motion made by one foot on the ground, in order to get a rider up to a desired speed. What Peters does, however, is more like the rocking motion of an expert surfer.
"I've found 'pumping' a longboard is so much like surfing or snowboarding," says Peters, "that it's something truly enjoyable, enough to keep my interest for a really long time. On top of that, I believe it's the best way to minimize wear and tear on the body when longboarding distances."
Not that the STP guarantees a smooth ride.
"What you need in order to pump efficiently," Peters says, "are road conditions that are flat or downsloped, and smooth. The STP has a huge variety of terrain, but enough of it is smooth and flat, so when I'm pumping instead of pushing, it's almost like taking a rest while riding. You do have to get ready for patches of really bad chipseal asphalt, or big inclines where you simply have to push. But for the most part, on Sunday morning, I can get up and still feel fresh for another day of skating, largely because of my focus on pumping."
What do the STP's bike riders think of Peters' alternative wheels?
"They express a lot of disbelief," Peters says, "but they usually follow it up with encouragement and jokes. Many ask if I'm really serious about making it to Portland. Most are really supportive, and say some very funny things that almost make me blush."
I mentioned Jack Smith, Rob Thomson, Skate Across America, and the UK scene in the interview as well, (along with a bunch of other side topics.) Tom asked a lot of good questions and whittled it down for a focus on the local aspect.
That would be awesome Jim, you're always more than welcomed!
Great News on the STP front:
Ted called Sunday and said he's IN! So I proceeded to give him my best "scare stories" from past STP's -- and he's still IN! -- so he's the real deal. Honestly, this isn't the kind of ride I heavily promote or encourage others to jump into lightly. Ted's got the focus and wits to keep it real, riding alongside 9,498 bike riders. The only concern I really have for him is that he'll shred his Vibram FiveFinger shoes a little more than he thinks he might from all the footbraking.
It's just a few days away now, and just like the last two years, there's always last minute heebie jeebies and trepidations.
The main decision point I'm thinking right now is the same as last years...whether to stay with the Bennett truk on front, or to switch back to my Splitfire Pro, which I use in slalom, and which I rode in prior STP's. But this year I'm leaning toward going with the Bennett, just because I love the feel of it more, and I think I can manage the terrain.
In case it's not clear Why this is a big question -- it's all about the protruding kingpin of the Bennett, and how, given just the wrong rock or chunk of bark in the wrong place at the wrong time of your turn, can stop your board on a dime and pitch you off. Even the kingpin mod of Galac's doesn't really address this significantly enough to alleviate my concern (believe me, I've done the math...) I know it might sound a little hypochondriac to worry about this, but on a long, largely unknown, and sometimes treacherous road terrain course like the STP, getting bucked is a valid concern.
On the Splitfires, I felt pretty comfortable in Napavine and Longview bridge, where the speed hits about 40mph (according to the GPS.) There's always some areas that are under construction, and you never really know what else might get tossed in the roadway. And for anyone who thinks I'm overly worried about a little road rash -- on this ride, it's not just you who's eating asphalt -- you're always pack riding, and I've seen "small" wrecks turn into multiple bodycount pile-ups. I don't want to screw up anyone else's ride as much as my own.
But right at the moment, I'm still forging ahead with going with the Bennett, and maybe just taking it a little slower on the steepest hills.
Most of all, this is going to be a whole new trip, to share the ride with a dude like Ted. For him, it's going to be an awesome way to see a lot of the state of WA, at ground level, and at a cruising speed to soak it all in. The stoke meter just jumped a notch!!
haha, I need to make that shirt.. "ON YOUR RIGHT!!" with a big doofy face on it. I don't know if the bikers would get it, but it would make me feel better I'm still tempted to bring a small bullhorn.
well we're getting close, and Ted and I will be carbo loading tonight at BlueC Sushi in U-Village, go over last minute checklists, ask him if he's really gonna wear the Vibrams (of course I know he will)
and king5 news did a really quick story, they called today at 2 and were at my house at 3:30, I plugged that ted's joining this year and that he's an ultramarathoner -- and practically my nutrition coach-- but it was whittled down to some short tidbits,
anyway they got "skateboarders with issues" in there
Cheated and jumped on the road with James down in Puyallup around the 40 mile mark. Ted rode by infront of James but was chatting up the cyclist. Rode up the hill and a little ways further until I realized all the bolts on my front truck were coming undone, one already missing.
Meaning my board cant stand a few simple miles yet James, himself, can stand doing his 3rd? STP haha
Anyways the experience of those few miles was crazy, the vibe is amazing. Got me a lot more stoked on the idea of the ride next year.
James continuing on, as I walked back down hill.
That was great having you drop in at Puyallup Sheldon! And for one of the toughest parts of the course no less.
It may be too simple to say that this STP was "the best" of the three, as each ride has its own merits, but hands down, having Ted join for the full ride made this one of the most incredible experiences. And I would not have made it through the new chipsealed 10 mile portion nearly as well without having a bro like Ted to help push each other on.
It added a whole new perspective to see someone go through many of the same trials, hills, bike and car traffic negotiation, and a LOT more humor on the road.
Ted and I both were wearing doo-rags under our helmets, and in the 95-degree heat, he'd occasionally pour water from the squeeze bottle into the top hole in his helmet...freaking genius!!! So I started doing the same using my camelbak, squeezing cold drops of water on my head. I think that really helped stave off any overheating, and we made the Finish line on Sunday just before 2 p.m., feeling strong.
Lot more to share, and will soon, gotta get to work!
Never really got around to doing a full write up on this, but recently posted some notes to NWLB about the philosophy on doing the STP.
Will repost that here and with some other pics that came from friendly folks along the way...
The question came up over there "Are you allowed to do STP on a board?" and this was my response:
The first two years, I asked permission, and asked again for the RSVP ride this year. This is the first year another longboarder (Ted) joined along, and it was awesome to have him to ride with!!
Cascade.org didn't exactly encourage it -- they basically said "there is nothing explicitly stating longboards can NOT be used." And this is exactly why I don't actively encourage people to do this unless they're really willing to ride along "like a biker" and have been training for it.
First, I think it's imperative to register like any other biker, get the official bib number/sticker and take advantage of the fact they provide traffic control, and stops, first aid stations and amenities along the way. Although I never count on their food stops to take care of me, I carry everything I need to eat, and stuff that I know will work without giving me digestion problems. It's not a day you want to experiment with too many unfamiliar sugary electrolyte drinks. But those stops are crucial for hydration and you DO appreciate things like fresh watermelon, cold water sprays, and just the overall vibe from the bikers -- for most of them it's a pretty casual joy ride and they can afford to take long breaks. Overall prepare for a weekend budget of about $200, for the registration, the return bus, food, and the overnight stop.
On the road, it takes an extra degree of awareness to always stay to the right and stay aware of who's behind you at all times. The stream of bikes passing you throughout the day is constant. There's a few particularly bad areas where the shoulder width is minimal and the traffic to your left is fast and busy. You have to make sure to give bikers room on your left at all times to pass. The most wicked part of the ride is definitely the Lewis and Clark bridge, wicked cool and interesting to figure out logistically, because you have to negotiate expansion gaps, chunks of bark from logging trucks, bikes, and cars -- and on a fast hill. This year there was also a new 10-mile stretch of chipseal just north of Centralia that sucked balls, we did that in 95-degree weather and I swear you could taste the tar bubbling up off the road -- I'm hoping it smooths out a little by next year, but honestly that 10 miles of the ride almost made me rethink the entire trip.
Some of that may sound a bit negative, but I just like to be pragmatic about this ride. Bailing half way has never been an option in my mind, you gotta commit and do it. Going past 100 miles and then being ready to do it again the next morning was probably the biggest mental hurdle. The ride is a freaking BLAST of an adventure and the minute it finishes, you might be thinking "whats next"? It's strangely addicting that way.
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