This weekend I had the honor to ride the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic with my wife, Kristen. We bought her a bike when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008 to give her something to look forward to and a vehicle for doing something impressive post cancer.
Surgery, 20 nights in the hospital while undergoing chemo and it seems she’s kicked cancer’s butt. She’ll be five years cancer free in November. However, the bike we bought her hung in the garage for years unused until we took a short ride last summer. She decided she liked riding and later told me she wanted to ride the STP. She didn’t exactly listen to my advice for training but she put in some hard work and on Saturday we left Husky Stadium and rolled at a pretty casual pace (about 14 mph).
It was my fifth STP and, I have must say, probably my last. I usually ride much faster and when I do I feel much safer. At this pace we were constantly surrounded by riders, many of whom appeared to have very little experience. People wearing head phones, passing without checking for cars, not giving verbal announcements when passing and not pointing out massive potholes. While there were probably more riders going about things the right way, it was disappointing to see many who weren’t.
It’s also understandable. While the STP is an iconic event that every cyclists should try once, a great deal of the riders seem to be inexperienced folks out to check this event off their bucket lists. Good for them and I think most of them were probably better riders by the time they reached Portland, but it can get scary out there at times. Kristen and I saw five accidents on the first day. (We missed the vehicle-cyclist collision near Roy.)
We made it safely to Portland and we are grateful for that. We met fun and interesting people along the way, one of the great parts of colossal group rides like this. And we discovered that 200 miles in two days is probably a little longer than what Kristen would like to do. But, most important, we had fun and Kristen got to push herself and rise to the challenge.