Saturday, June 29, 2013

Last Training Ride before STP - 142 miles

Trucking it up Puyallup hill
At the beginning of the year, we all made a commitment to train for the annual summer Seattle To Portland Ride - whether for the one day effort or the normal 2 day ride. Since that meeting, we've done our best to ride together every weekend towards that goal.  That training was to culminate in a 150 mile (approximately) ride 2 weeks before the STP in order to condition our bodies to peak at 200 miles by STP day, July 13.

The team in Yelm with the carnival in the background
As luck would have it, the hottest week of the year so far happened to fall on the last week of June this year and the forecast for Saturday, June 29, was no exception.  But...Team Mangs and Team Alings were ready for the challenge.  They suited up with their newly designed jerseys and braved the heat, rolling out from Renton Memorial Stadium on the way to Tenino for a total of 70 miles - the trip back would make it 140.  Things started off really nice - temps in the mid 70's and cloudy.  Until we got to Puyallup, just before 9 AM when the sun started its ascent.  At least, the dreaded Puyallup hill was behind us by the time the heat started picking up.

Ed was one of our  awesome support crew 
The team wasn't made up of cyclists alone.  Other members who couldn't ride (and their families) provided much needed support, hauling water and food to stops every 15 miles or so.  By 11 AM, about an hour behind schedule, the Team Mang train had reached Yelm City Park where by coincidence, the city carnival had set up.  By then, everyone was feeling hungry and drained. But motivated by lunch, they hastily rode the last 12 miles towards Tenino - the turnaround point.

The Tenino park along the STP route was the site of our lunch break where the food, a unique recipe of Pampanga style adobo, with rice and watermelon provided much needed nourishment to the riders.  It was truly tempting to just abandon at this point because the temperatures were in the upper 70's with no cloud in sight but Team Mang soldiered on. After all, they had no choice - we couldn't all fit in the support vehicle (next time we'll bring a support bus).

Picnic lunch in Tenino

Cooling down in
A couple of hours behind schedule, the team kept on with rest breaks taking longer than planned, pushing speeds of 20+ in mid 80 degree temperatures, just so they could spend more time cooling down under the shade and taking impromptu baths with ice cold water from the support vehicles' coolers to get some relief from the extreme heat.  By the time we reached Puyallup, a bank's spinning signboard that broadcasts the current temperature actually read 100 degrees (probably from the 90+ degree air plus the sun reflecting on the concrete)! 

An unusual Adobo dinner at Starbucks
Through some quick thinking by the support crew, the last rest stop was moved from the gas station on Fryar and Main in Sumner to a Starbucks store just a half mile east of it.  At that stop, we were able to cool down a bit (arriving there at the hottest time of the day, around 5PM) in the shade and inside the store and even eat the rest of our adobo lunch (wow! Starbucks serves adobo?).  It was a strange sight, for sure - Team Mangs and Alings sitting around outside Starbucks and on the parking lot sidewalk eating rice and adobo on paper plates.

A fitting treat - halo-halo after a
scorching ride
A couple more hours and 22 miles later, we were back at Renton Stadium - a full 13.5 hours and 140 miles after we started.  Some registered 143 to 145 on their odometers because they missed a turn in Puyallup.  Ed gave everyone a treat by surprising us with halo-halo from Chowking!  That was such a treat after the hard fought ride in that blistering heat!

Out of 24 riders, 4 abandoned at mile 58 and 70 with one cutting it 20 miles short in Sumner.  But the rest rolled through.  In spite of the fact that the route was relatively flat, this was one of the hardest rides we've had to do all year because of the heat.  Our ride time left much to be desired but we blame the heat and the need to take longer breaks from the sun.  At least now we know we can actually do the STP in one day.

Go Team Mang and Team Aling!