The Group Health Seattle to Portland Bike Ride (more commonly known as the STP) is this weekend!

10,000 people will mount their trusty steeds (more commonly known as bikes) and ride 200 miles from Seattle, WA to Portland, OR. The scenic route wanders through valleys, forests, farmlands, and quaint towns. Most riders will do the ride in two days, but some brave souls will choose to conqueror the route in a single push.

I am not brave…or at least not THAT brave.

Heidi, Mountain Shop employee, here to talk to you about the STP. This will be my second year riding the STP, and I am excited! Last year as I wrote a pre-STP blog, it was with trepidation and fear of the unknown that I sat at the keyboard. Now, although not exactly a seasoned veteran, I feel like I know what to expect from this adventure.

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I now know that Chamois Butter is a Godsend, that it’s ok to eat a ton of food during the ride, and perhaps most importantly of all, that yes, I am capable of surmounting this physical challenge.

I will again be riding the Look 566, custom fit by our very own master bike fitter, Dana Ham. As Dana described it, “This sexy bike is great for people looking to break into the world of cycling. It’s comfy and fast.” Okay, so maybe Dana didn’t use the word sexy, but I think it an apt descriptor for this sleek ride. Don’t you?

Look 566

The STP is one of the best supported rides around. Every 20 miles there is a stop providing food, water, mechanical support, first aid, toilets, and more! Some of the stops even provide entertainment. How’s that for service? Plus, cruising along the course you’ll find support vehicles and emergency response crews constantly at the ready.

This support came in handy last year when one of my teammates got into a wreck that bent his front wheel. The support crew picked up him and his damaged bike, drove them to the next support station where the mechanics were able to get his bike all fixed up.

The Clif Bar crew at the lunch stop on day one last year.

Above is the Clif Bar Crew at the lunch stop on day one of last year’s ride.

Here are 6 must-do’s for the STP:

1. Train

There is no substitute for hard work and preparation (sorry to those who thought this would be a list of magical shortcuts, but they don’t exist). Start a training plan early and stick with it. For this type of long distance event, the most important thing is getting time in the saddle. Focus on volume, not intensity. For more tips on training, check out one of the Mountain Shop’ free clinics, which you can find out more about on our Facebook page.

2. Prepare your mind

One of the hardest things for people to overcome on a long, physically demanding day is their own mind. Negative thoughts and wishing can drag down your spirit and negatively affect your physical performance. Do what you need to do in order to go into the race feeling strong and prepared. Tell yourself, “I got this.”

3. Procure Chamois Butt’r

This stuff is a must. The directions on the bottle say “apply liberally to skin” and I did just that. Multiples times each day I lathered the stuff on and it saved my rear end from dreaded seat rash. It’s like smearing the butter of angels on your dairy-air.

4. Don’t be afraid to eat

You’re working hard and your body needs fuel to keep on grinding. During last year’s STP I ate a dinner that was 2-3 times the size of a normal meal for me. It was my body’s way of telling me that it needed fuel. If I had only eaten a regularly sized portion, I would have crashed the next day. So, when you feel hungry on or after a long, demanding ride, don’t be afraid to eat.

However, almost more important than quantity is the quality of food you eat. Make sure you are giving your body the nutrients it needs. This means, please don’t try to ride the STP on a diet of Cheetos and Dr. Pepper. Luckily, the STP food stops are pretty good about this and offer things like PB&J’s, bananas, Clif Bars, and other healthy snacks.

5. Ride the RIGHT bike

Fit is everything, especially when it comes to a bike that you’re going to ride for hundreds of miles. Take the time to get your bike fit and your body will thank you. I totally under estimated the value of this statement, until I underwent the magic that is a custom bike fit. My shoulders and neck were no longer sore and tight after a 20 mile ride, and it’s because my bike fit like my favorite pair of jeans.

6. Have fun!

The STP is a ride, not a race. You don’t get bonus points for being the first one to camp. Take your time and enjoy the ride. This will add to your enjoyment of the ride, but taking regular breaks is also good for maintaining endurance. Regular breaks from the beginning give your body the chance to stay energized so it doesn’t have to play catch up. Your day might last a little longer, but your muscles will appreciate you so much more.

Follow these 6 tips and your STP will be at least as much fun as mine. ;-)

Have fun riding and I’ll see you in 202.4 miles!

 

 

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