Author: Scott Wagar
I originally planned to ride my 17th STP with my brother this year; but about a month out, he told me that he lost his passion for cycling and was bailing on the ride. Fortunately for me, I was talking with Les on one of our Cyclopath rides and found out that he and Dwaine planned on riding; and he invited me to ride with them.
My alarm was set for 3am - funny how it's never an issue waking up for a ride when I struggle everyday to wake up for work. Anyways, my wife and I were out of the house by 3:45 and made it to the start line by 4:25. I quickly got my things together and was able to find Les and Dwaine in record time - which is not an easy feat with thousands of riders milling about. My wife, Kameron, took some pictures and wished us well. Shortly thereafter, we were on our way crossing the start line around 4:48 am.
The first few miles were dicey due to all the riders as well as the street furniture in the residential areas. We were able to get through all the chaos with no issues. We soon found ourselves riding at a decent clip through Seattle on our way to Kent. Our plan was to skip the REI stop and look for Mike who Les informed me was going to meet us around that food stop. I thought that was great and also informed him that Kevin was going to meet us around Sumner. We passed the food stop and didn't see Mike. I kept saying to myself "watch for Mike, watch for Mike" A couple of minutes passed when all of a sudden I see a large orange wave of cyclist coming towards us. I was shocked and amazed that so many Cyclopaths had come out to meet us. What an awesome treat! In no time, the gang was able to turn around and hook up with us. I remember Rob saying as he passed "your train is here, get on". I wished it was that easy, before I knew it Rob and his train had come and gone. I was fortunate to hang with Mike and Leon who were nice enough to block the wind for me the whole time till we hooked up with the rest of the gang in Puyallup. The Cyclopaths took us to the JBLM entrance where we had to say goodbye. Thanks guys for supporting us. It was an awesome surprise.
Once we got on base, we had easy sailing with no traffic. It was an honor riding through there with many of the military men and women out on the course cheering us on. A few miles onto the base, the second food stop showed up where they had parked several military planes for the cyclists to view, very cool. We used the bathroom and were quickly off again.
We made good time through Roy, Yelm and Tenino. A few miles after Tenino a small sprinkle started coming down, I was thinking that this is nice and refreshing, but unfortunately for all of us that sprinkle turned into an all out downpour. For the next 12-13 miles we rode in a sloppy mess. For quite a while, I was behind Dwaine and Les where I kept getting nailed with their tire spray, I wished that Dwaine had his fenders on. We got to Centralia very wet and somewhat chilled. It's tradition that when you ride into the Centralia rest area they hand you a Creamsicle, and I believe for the first time I passed on this delicious treat due to being cold to the point of shaking. Nothing like last year at Paradise (Skate Creek Loop Ride), but still very cold. We made it there at 10:10, not bad. We used the bathroom and grabbed a ton of food and drink and were off again.
For the next 20-25 miles, we had a decent pace line going with many members taking on the headwind. However, we found ourselves alone a good portion of the second half of the ride. Les and Dwaine were awesome to ride with and like always Dwaine took on more of the pulls than he should have. We made it to Lexington at 1pm where we got more food, and it was then that Dwain noticed his seat was about to come off. He was able to borrow an Allen wrench form the onsite mechanic and was good to go.
Just before the St. Helens stop, we had another good pace line going when there was a decent incline just before town at that point I felt the "bonk" coming. I limped into the St. Helens stop where Dwaine pulled out his secret weapon for "debonking" - an ice cold can of Coca Cola. He had purchased one for each of us. I downed that along with some cookies, and we were off again. I couldn't believe it. Within a few minutes, the caffeine and sugar kicked in; and I felt like a new man. We powered into Portland, weathered the 45 stop lights and crossed the finish line at 4:43. Not bad at all! My wife and daughter were at the finish line about 4pm and told me only 20-30 riders crossed before us.
It was a great day with Les and Dwaine! Thanks Cyclopaths for supporting us.