Homemade poster highlight of 200-mile STP ride | Home Again
A couple of weeks ago I stayed with my grandchildren in West Seattle while their parents rode in the annual Seattle-to-Portland bike ride event, otherwise known as the STP.
I’ve mentioned their need for training rides in the weeks and months leading up to the STP weekend.
By the time the event comes about, of course, the theory is that they are strong and tough and ready to ride 200 miles.
My daughter Lisa called at the end of the first day. She said she had told her husband she did not think she really needed to ride the second day.
The first day (sometimes 94 degrees) was a challenge, but with many stops for water—and the occasional ride through the sprinklers that sympathetic residents set out to shower riders as they passed—she felt a sense of accomplishment.
Yes, she had ridden far enough. She didn’t think she needed a second day.
I can only imagine the look Eric must have given her. Having made her announcement, she felt like walking to a nearby Mexican restaurant for re-fueling, after which—of course—she agreed to ride the next day.
Lisa was not delighted that she rode the last 15 miles to Centralia with no idea how far ahead her husband was.
Eric had disappeared somewhere among the approximately 10,000 riders. (Really? 10,000? I’m sure that’s what she said.)
Anyway, when she approached the finish line, she heard Eric’s voice from amongst the throng and saw him waving from the crowd. “Lisa! Lisa! Over here!”
Then a group of men standing in the same general area as Eric began calling to her, as well. “Lisa! Over here!”
It seemed that Eric had sprinted on ahead in order to claim their sleeping bags, small tent and other gear from one of the trucks carrying the possessions of the 10,000 riders to the halfway point, a Centralia schoolyard. (Really? 10,000? I still can’t imagine that many people deliberately choosing to ride 200 miles.)
Eric and Lisa pitched their tent near a sidewalk, which seemed like a good idea at the time, and focused on falling asleep in the heat.
At 3 a.m. they awakened to the clicking of bike shoes on pavement as several ambitious riders sprang happily from tents nearby and began noisily re-packing gear to load back on the trucks, calling back and forth through the darkness in jolly voices.
The group eventually clattered off through the night, and Lisa and Eric managed a bit more sleep.
That day the heat eased, rain came and cars spattered mud on bicycles and riders.
In the meantime, grandma, Adam and Abby were having their own fun with toys, books, art supplies and garden implements.
After hours of wet Slip ‘n’ Slide play and tending mom’s flowers by endlessly hand-watering individual blossoms with tiny watering cans, the children settled into creating a giant “Welcome Home" poster, which Adam decorated with a red Ferrari.
Their parents said the poster was the highlight of the weekend. I find that easy to believe.