Once again we’re up at 4am to get ready for day 2 of the STP. Despite our early night, I have little interest in getting out of bed. Everything hurts and I am so tired from cycling 100 miles yesterday. But I’m not going to get back to my own bed by staying here, so up we get. During breakfast we watch stage 15 of the Tour de France. I have a whole new appreciation for what these guys go through and exactly how much of a challenge it really is. Well, I still can’t imagine it to the full extent, but I definitely have a better idea.

We pack up our gear, drop it off at the truck and set off with the sunrise, around 5am. It’s early, but we’re smiling anyway!

While the route on day 1 was flat with one major hill, today’s geography is rolling hills. It’s a blast cruising down as fast as I can, but the physical exertion of climbing up them really starts to wear on me. It gets to the point where every time I see a hill, I actually get angry. I know this isn’t rational, but my tired body and mind aren’t doing rational right now.

Similar to day 1, we have a bike malfunction, but this time it’s Maggie’s. Thankfully it’s nothing serious and she is able to get it fixed, but the line is long and an hour passes before we get back on the road.

As we cycle through Longview, I know we’re crossing over the Columbia River soon. As we approach the bridge, traffic is stopped to allow a few hundred cyclists at a time cross without worrying about cars. And it’s a good thing, too. The climb up the bridge is a doozy!

I think I’m glad I didn’t know what was coming when I started up this bridge. Looking back at it from the other side, it looks a little overwhelming. But finally – we’re in Oregon!

The rest stops really are my saving grace. They provide a break both mentally and physically. I know if I can just make it to the next stop, I’ll be fine. The food is all free for riders, and it provides all the energy required to keep going.

These misters look like heaven. The organizers for this ride really have thought of everything to help the cyclists make it safely to Portland.

I’m not sure what happens at this point, but Maggie gets her second wind and we make great time. We cycle the last 50 miles to Portland together. The road is long, straight and flat, but very exposed to the sun. The miles tick away as we barely notice the scenery we pass. It’s crunch time and we’re almost at the end. We don’t need any distractions now.

And then, finally, we see it. Portland. I’ve never been so happy to see her in my life.

Portland

Mt St Helens peeks through just across the border back in Washington.

Although we can see Portland, we’re actually in Portland, the trek is not over. We still have another 45 minutes of cycling before we reach the end. The route takes us through the University of Portland and Portland Community College, as well as several quintessential northwest neighborhoods. Everything is quiet and it’s easy to forget we’re actually riding in the STP. But I’m ready to be done!

AHHHHHH!!!! There it is! The finish line! This journey is finally over. I wish I could say I’m a little sad it’s done, but I’m so happy and so relieved and so ready to be off my bike that I have no room for any other emotions. Now if only that red light would change.

I can’t keep the smile off my face. I really did it. I completed the STP.

Maggie and I haven’t cycled the whole time with each other, but we left the starting line together, and we cross the finish line together. Just like it should be.

Proudly displaying our hard earned finisher badges.

There’s quite the festivities happening at the finish line at Holladay Park. Food trucks line one side and we find ourselves a well deserved meal. Then it’s time for me to load up on to the bus heading back to Seattle. Maggie is staying with a friend who lives in Portland for the night and stays behind. Our journey is complete.

So am I glad I did it? Yes, I really am. It was hard and there were many times I was physically in pain, wondering what the heck I was thinking. But I’m also so proud of pushing through and finishing anyway. It’s a life experience no one can ever take away from me. Would I ever do it again? I don’t think so. At least not the STP. Maybe I would consider doing the RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party), but what I really want to do someday is a charity challenge where I ride from Vietnam to Cambodia, or perhaps across India, all while raising money for a charity. On top of that, I discovered I really do enjoy riding my bike and would like to continue doing so just for fun. And in my book, that’s the real win.

To The Balkans At Last
Seattle to Portland Day 1 - UW to Centralia

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