Preparing for STP

Some of you may have heard that my son Shawn and I have committed to riding Seattle to Portland this year on our tandem. We started upping our mileage the first Sunday in February. A natural question might be why? I think the answer is simply that both of us work better if we have a goal to shoot for. This isn’t the first rodeo for either one of us. I think that we road STP together for the first time thirty years ago when Shawn was twelve. I’d already ridden it several times prior to that, and in fact was one of 64 riders who rode it the very first year when STP was a 200 mile time trial, with no drafting allowed.

View from the back of the tandem during Daffodil 2014 (photo by the editor)

And no we aren’t really riding with the idea of setting a fast time. The sub 8 hour ride I did comfortably in the middle of 150 or so riders is safe. STP was a different ride then, in fact they don’t even keep rider times anymore, which honestly makes me kind of sad. I enjoyed being “tested”, and what better way than a long, hard, fast ride with published times that allowed your friends and acquaintances to compare their time with yours. But we do want to do the ride in what I would describe as in “good style”. And what does that mean exactly? Well I’m sure that it varies from rider to rider, but I think that for Shawn and I it means that we prepare well enough that we aren’t forced to struggle, that we ride strong, and finish stronger, pacing ourselves, but riding close enough to our limits that there is no sure thing.

I’ve already noticed some major improvement. We are riding better and faster. It’s still amazing how a big increase in mileage will provide quick and often big improvement. Sure we’ve suffered some equipment issues and a rash of tire problems but rather now then during a big ride. A couple of things have become clear as well. First off, I still love riding my bike, as hard and fast as I can. And secondly I really enjoy riding and spending time with my son. That I still have both of these pluses in my life makes me a very lucky man.

Mt. Rainier as seen from the course of the Daffodil Classic, 2014 (photo by the editor)

Mt. Rainier as seen from the course of the Daffodil Classic, 2014 (photo by the editor)

Finally, I think all of us who live in the Northwest need to take a deep breath and look around. Last weekend, as part of our STP warm up Shawn and I went up to Orting to ride the Daffodil Century. Neither of us had ridden it for a few years, and they have changed the course. I’d heard some grumbling about too much traffic and rude drivers, and frankly it isn’t perfect. But damn what a great place to ride a bike. It was the first really nice day of the year, but it wasn’t just that. It looked like you could just about reach out and touch Mount Rainer which certainly helps but it wasn’t just that either. It’s finally Spring in Washington and everything is growing much of it in that special green of each unique species that you only see in the Northwest in the Spring. And finally there really is no place nicer than our region to ride a bicycle anywhere. You heard it here “ The nicest place to ride a bike anywhere”. What cars?


About cyclesportive

Shawn Stevenson is a bicycle frame builder from Olympia, WA. He and his father blog about cycle sportive riding, bicycles, and lifestyle.
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