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Friday, July 17, 2009

The STP Recap - Day Two: Dang, Those Hill Will Get You Everytime

The 6:00 am wake up call was probably the worst noise I’ve ever heard in my life. While my instinct was to leap of bed, my muscles thought otherwise. Sore and tired, I was in no mood to saddle up on to anything. There had been rumors of rain for the second day, but deep down I hoped that was a big fat lie. Unfortunately, the cloud cover made the potential for rain much, much higher. Squeezing into day 2 riding clothes and packing up the car seemed like the most arduous tasks that could be asked of us to do so early in the morning. We headed back to Centralia and gingerly got back on the bikes, determined to get to Portland.

Now, I would gladly go into detail about what it feels like to get back on the bike after 100 miles the day before, but there are no words. It’s like no other pain and it gets to the point that you don’t want to even dismount because the feeling is restored. I found it just better to sit on the bike and have the numbness squelch that pain. The best I could do was take deep breaths and start pedaling hoping that something else would hurry up and hurt to distract me.

Moving on...The cloud cover made the morning dark and dreary. The cooler temperature was welcomed. Making our way through some country roads, we stopped about 10 miles in for a pit stop at which point Melissa looked at me and said, “We’re doing this, right? We can do this, right?” To me, not making it wasn’t an option. I responded, whole heartedly with, “Yes. Absolutely. We’re doing it now.”

This is the point where things started to take a turn for the less than pleasant. The skies opened up and crocodile size rain drops started falling from the sky. I called back to Melissa, “All Day!” “All day!” she responds, letting me know that she’s right behind me. As the last word came out of her mouth, the thunder rolled and we erupted in disbelieving laughter. “All DAY!!” I called back again and an “All DAY!” came back. While the thought of lightening and me mounted on a metal bike did cross my mind, I was put to ease with the thought of the rubber tires and the chances of me being struck by lightning would make for a totally awesome story. So we kept pedaling. About 100 yards from the pit stop we were drenched to the bone, with no rain gear and no end in sight. It was going to be a long day.

Now, everyone prepares first time riders for “The Hill” in Puyallup on the first day, but everyone fails to mention the NEVERENDING rolling hills for the first half of Day 2. There was one point where my internal word choice could have made a sailor blush. My gluteus and quads were screaming, “Please stop! What did we ever do to you! Why are you doing this to us?” However, once to conquered one hill there was often a really awesome downhill where you could just lay on the pedals and fly. On the way down, the rain make it feel like what I would imagine going through a car wash in a convertible would feel like. I couldn’t really see through my shades, braking and shifting were touch-and-go because it was so slick. I really just hoped and prayed for the best.

By the time we got to lunch, I was starving and ate as much as I could because if those last 50 miles were any indication of the next 50 miles, I wasn’t going to make it. Getting back on the road we still have the Longview bridge ahead of us. Mentally, that was the last obstacle I needed to get over. The rain was persistent but I felt pretty good. We were also on a little bit of a timing issue so we made good time to get to the bridge.

We approached the bridge amongst heavy traffic but the rain had let up a little. Keep in mind…its been about 55ish miles on day two, I am soaking wet, I’m struggling to shift and brake and there is a giant bridge, complete with a solid climb and an equal downhill. Single file up, we took it, slow and steady. Conquered. What an awesome feeling to come flying down the other side, look back and marvel. Once we hit the road after the bridge more hills awaited us. Awesome. More rain….even better. At the mini-rest stop I was feeling pretty good, tired. We heard the rest of the course was fairly flat, which was the best news all day.

After the Goble mini-stop, we took off at a good click. I really wanted to get done and I knew we could make it. Knowing that the last part was fairly flat, I knew I could really get cranking on the pedals and not have to worry about conserving too much for hills. We made great time to the last mini-stop and I was rearing to finish up. We took a longer break at the last stop for Melissa to get some kinks worked out in her shoulder and then we were off. Down to 27 miles to go, I knew it in my heart of hearts we could do it.

About 10 miles out, the rain really picked up. It was hard and fast and the roads were getting slicker and puddles getting wider. I was so determined at this point you could have run the course through Niagra Falls and I would have gone for it. In the city there were two more obnoxious hills that about did me in.

Riding into the city streets, I all of a sudden hear someone yelling my name. W…t…f. I look around to see who it could possibly be, and low and behold the two most wonderful faces anyone would ever want to see where pulling up alongside us cheering us on to the finish. Lindsay and Stephanie honked and cheered us to the finish line. They were what I need to push through.

Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the finish line appears. About freaking time. People were applauding and cheering us on as we crossed. It was quite a sight and sound. Tired and drenched to the bone, we rode through, dismounted and stood in a drunken stupor.

It's hard to explain what it feels like. It's hard to describe everything that does through you while still trying to function. I’m still searching for the words. We search for mom. She gave me a big hug once we found each other. We connected with Lindsay and Steph who were carrying the precious cargo: clean/dry clothes. Despite our drenched and dirty selves, we got big hugs. The only thing on my mind at the point was getting dry and clean. We barely missed the cut off for the showers, so with Lindsay’s superhuman powers she get on her wonder-phone and magically connected us to a hotel. But I couldn’t wait, I NEEDED to get my clothes off of me, privacy and modesty be darned. So, standing in the parking lot, off went the shirt, and with a wrap of the towel around my waist, off came the pants. With Steph holding the towel and Lindsay keeping me upright, I was maneuvering my way to get clean, dry clothes on. Success! I was clothed and dry, the best feeling I could have hoped for at the moment.

On our way to find these mysterious showers. We went a few blocks and pulled into the LaQuinta parking lot, Lindsay and Melissa went in to get a room while Steph and I lurked outside. We made our way through the hotel, across the back parking lot, up a set of stairs, all the time I was thinking, “What is going on? Where are we? Is this safe? Am I delirious? I did not ride 200 miles on a bike just to get shot in a hotel room in Portland.” We eventually made our way to our room (after Lindsay accidentally walked in on a couple sleeping….hilariously awkward). We both got cleaned up and set out to make our way home.

After the scenic route to the bridge, we were headed north on I-5 bound for Seattle, where only the day before we had set off from, not know how this would end, what we would encounter.

I close the Day 2 recap with the song lyrics that keep going through my head:

Walkin's easy when the road is flat
Them danged ol' hills'll get you every time
Yeah the good Lord gave us mountains
So we could learn how to climb – Mountains By Lonestar

And lastly,

No, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm,Gonna try with a little help from my friends – The Beattles

Both are so true.

I’ll do a recovery post once I’m fully recovered, but until then…ciao.


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