Seattle To Portland (STP)

Feelings experienced during the STP:
 
Concern – When my front tire popped for the first time at the first rest
stop (25 miles)
Frustration – When my front tire popped for the second time taking me out
of 23 mph paceline
Resignation- When my front tire popped for the third time in the first 50
miles, and I no longer had a spare.  (A support motorcycle stopped to help
me.)
Frustration – When I followed a guy with 2 1-day STP patches on his bag
that went off course, and caused me to take a 3.7 mile detour.
Hubris – When my body felt invincible at the 100 mile mark in
Centralia.
Pain – Starting about mile 150 when shooting pain started in my
knees.
Fear – When I was 5 miles from the finish line and my legs started cramping
up.
Gratitude – When my neighbor and friend, Karlin, stuck by me as I walked up
the hills, to provide moral support.
Relief – When we finished in Portland and I could get off my bike once and
for all.
Joy – After having missed our buses back home, when our friend from Church,
Dave Carlson offered to find us rides home.
 
I suppose the bottom line is that we finished.  We finished at 9:30pm in
the dark – 16.5 hours after we started.  30 minutes after the buses had already
left.  With that said, it was not a pretty finish.  For 3-4 hours, it felt as if
my legs were being stabbed by knives with every pedal.  In the last 6 miles, my
hamstring started cramping every time I tried to ride uphill on a steep grade,
and I had to walk up 3 hills and over a small bridge. The first half of the
mile, my speedometer said we’re averaging about 18.5 mph.  I’m guessing that the
average over the last 10 miles was barely 10mph.  Those last miles truly took
incredible stupidity and determination to crank out.  Luckily, I was stocked up
in both departments.  Today (Sunday), my knees are no longer being stabbed by
knives, but I can not bend them, which makes me walk like Frankenstein.  One
weird issue is that my left thumb has gone numb.  I’m assuming that these
issues will at some point correct itself.  I never want to take another sip of
gatorade (of which I drank 8+ bottles) or take a bite of a clif bar ever again. 
I’m also tempted to get rid of my bike… As of today, I don’t think I could
ever be convinced to do the one-day STP again.  However, I would love to do the
STC (Centralia) at some point… maybe when my kids are a bit older…
 

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Independence Day Weekend

Perhaps one of the more interesting Independence Days to date.  We went over to our good friend, Michael’s uncle house in Enumclaw, where they own 10 acres of rural land.  It took an hour to travel one mile on Auburn Way (which leads to the Muckleshoot Casino), when we decided to take the long way around to their home by Lake Tapps, which took only 30 more minutes.  When we got there around 6pm, we could already hear explosions and grown men giggling.  They had two enormous arsenal towers ready for the evening, and were killing time with "appetizer" fireworks.  This was going to be a serious show.  Throughout the evening, Caleb had his fair share of sparklers, pop-its, and pull-pops.  Then he decided that he wanted to join the other kids in the hot tub as the evening wound down.  Michael’s brother, Casey, cooked up some fantastic pork ribs and chicken on the BBQ.  When he was asked to cook something that he felt was "beneath" him, he let everyone know by responding, "Would you ask Mozart to compose a deoderant jingle?"  Admittedly, if a grill was a piano, he could make it sing…  I don’t know about Mozart, but his BBQ was pretty good.
Then, I played tetherball with Michael’s 10 year-old niece.  At first, I was being nice, and she almost won.  Then I decided to step up my game.  She was actually pretty good, and our game lasted well over 10 minutes.  After a fairly serious tetherball injury to my finger, I managed to eek out a victory.  It wasn’t a proud moment for me, but losing while I was giving my best effort wouldn’t have been much better either.
Everyone there had family and small kids, except for one of Michael’s cousins, Ryan.  He was either engaged or newly wed.  He didn’t have kids.  And you can tell, because he was the one doing the crazy stuff with the fireworks…. like firing pull-pops at the children, or rolling smoke-bombs over at the baby…  It all culminated when he decided to put a Fire Blossom in a glass bottle.  Everyone started chiding him about what a horrible idea this was.  The little blossom buzzed inside the bottle making all different kinds of colors and fire was blowing out the top, as it slowly wound down.  Ryan looked over at everyone with a look that said, "See, now wasn’t that kind of cool?"  And I was thinking to myself, "Well, I guess that wasn’t so bad."  And right as I thought that, the glass bottle exploded like a bomb.  It was no more than 15 feet from all the people.  It was almost like a movie with the noise and shatter of glass. Michael claims he felt a glass shard hit him.   All the parents instinctively rose up, and yelled, "OK, time to put shoes on."  I think there was a collective implied expletive about Ryan that was unsaid, but that he could probably hear clearly inside his head.  At the end of the day, no one was hurt, and it did provide the most excitement for the evening.  Needless to say, he felt incredibly guilty and took a little more precaution in his firework experiments.  Honestly, I doubt I had much better judgment before I had kids, so I can’t judge him too harshly.  All I know is that probably by the time he has kids, our kids will be teenagers… and the tables will be turned… That’ll be fun.
The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful (relatively).  Michael showed off his crazy tire swing skills and spun us so fast that I was spinning for the next 15 minutes.  Then as dusk overtook us, Michael, his brother, and his cousins tore through his arsenal.  It was a spectacular show, especially if you consider that it was a home-brew show on a 10 acre farm.  We got home late, and woke up late the following morning.
On July 5th, I’ve been prepping to take my father’s Boston Whaler for a spin and take the family crabbing and fishing.  My father passed away 2 years ago, and he was the boat enthusiast, so none of us really operated the boat by ourselves.  This was the first time we tried to take it out without my father.  Last week, we started up the engine and the backup engine which both worked fine (after a few false starts).  I loaded up the crab pots, fishing pole, and a few turkey legs (for bait), and we got a bit of a late start after lunch.  Our whole family, including Tenille, the two kids, my mother, and my grandmother came along.  There’s really only official seating for two, but we made some make-shift seating between the crab pots with a few coolers.
The first time I tried to put the boat in the water, I had left the tie downs on the boat, and the boat would not slip off the trailer.  We brought the boat back out, and took off the tie downs.  Luckily, the boat launch was empty, and no one minded our delay.  Once we put the trailer back in the water, the boat floated out no problem.  I parked the trailer and came back to start up the boat.  I used the trim to lower the motor in the water, only to find that the motor would not lower.  We moved the boat to the other side of the dock to keep clear of the launch.  After about half an hour of troubleshooting, I found a bar that was underneath the motor in the water which I thought was holding up the motor.  After some time of wrestling with it with my limited toolset, we decided to take the boat back out of the water.  Up until now, my trailer driving had been pretty good, which is a bit unusual because I have some trouble backing up with a trailer.  This time around, however, I backed up the trailer like a blind man listening for the ocean.  I zigged and zagged down that narrow launch, and i’m sure I made the other truck that was waiting at the bottom quite nervous.  After about 5 tries of pulling forward, then back, forward, then back, I finally got the trailer in its place, and we pulled the boat out of the water.  Once in the parking lot, I tried to remove the bar.  It was so rusted, that it looked like it was welded on.  I quickly ran home in my wife’s van to get a hammer.  Once back, I hammered at the bar, but it did not budge.  At this point, we called it quits.  We my head hanging, we hauled everyone home.  Tenille, perhaps in her effort to make me feel better, told me that she hadn’t really expected to be able to drive out to sea.  It didn’t really make me feel any better.
Once at home, I spent the next hour trying to figure out how to remove this bar.  I tried several lubricants, a pipe wrench, a hacksaw, then a bolt cutter.  (In that order.)  After multiple failures, I sat there defeated, looking at this old rusty bar preventing me from taking my family out into the ocean.  Then a thought came to me.  Perhaps it’s not this rod at all?  I played with the trim, and tried to raise and lower the motor again.  When the motor stopped lowering, I looked again at the rod, only to find that no part of the motor assembly was touching it.  I looked all over the motor to try and find some other part that was catching the motor and preventing it from lowering.  That’s when I found a latch at the top of the engine.  I moved it easily out of the way and felt a mixture of joy and frustration.  I hopped on the deck and pushed the switch again to lower the motor.  It lowered.  It was 4:30pm.  I told my mom and my wife the situation.  They were both starting to think about dinner plans, but were persuaded to give the boat one more try.  My wife actually opted to stay on land, but would come down to help us launch the boat, because it was starting to rain a bit and she didn’t want baby Andrew to get cold.  We launched the boat again, and this time, the motor lowered.  After about 5 false starts, the motor started up.  The weather also started cooperating, and the sun broke through.  Tenille at the last minute decided to join us for the ride.  We were out on the water at about 5pm.  We cruised out into the sound about 15 minutes south of Redondo where we found a few other crab pots.  We let Caleb decide where to lower the crab pots.  When we first stopped, he told us, "not here!"  So I started the engine, and started moving again.  About 10 seconds later, he yelled, "HERE!"  So, we lowered the pots.  We also fished for a while.  We didn’t catch anything, but did have a few nibbles to keep us interested.  It was getting a bit cold and windy, and Tenille started to get concerned about Andrew.  It had only been about 30 minutes, but we decided it was time to head back.  When we pulled up the first crab pot, everyone guessed how many crabs would be in this pot.  My grandmother was perhaps the most optimistic with 5.  My mother, having been on many crabbing expeditions with my mother, was perhaps the most realistic, and guessed 1.  It ended up that there was actually a really big, male crab in the pot!  Success!  Even more cool was an enormous star fish that was sucking on the turkey wings.  It’s tentacles reverberated with strange patterns as it flipped upside down.  We put the crab in our cooler, and said goodbye to our starfish friend.  The second pot had 3 crabs.  2 were too small, and quickly fell through holes in the pots.  The remaining crab was a decent size, but it was female, so Priscilla was released back into the wild as well.  This was perhaps the most crab action we’ve seen in the last 5 years.  My mother, grandmother, and Caleb were all very excited and wanted to put the crab pots down again!  However, our baby’s welfare took priority, and we decided to head back.  Apparently, 6:30pm is rush hour at the Redondo launch.  After waiting for about 6 trucks, we finally got our boat out of the water, and headed for home.  Caleb fell asleep on the way home and was out for the night.  The rest of us cleaned the boat, and had a couple crab legs for dinner. We saved one for Caleb.  All in all, it probably took around 6 hours of preparation for a 1 hour boat ride… but at the end of the day, it was all worth it just to see Caleb’s beaming face when we caught our crab and starfish.  Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to go out again soon.

STP Prep

STP  (Seattle To Portland bike ride) is in 7 days
Farthest ridden in one day: 100 miles.
Miles ridden today: 40 miles.
Number of hours we have until the 9pm bus leaves from Portland:  16 hours.

I was almost on the brink of quitting last Friday.  I had ridden a
hundred miles the previous Saturday, and felt that I couldn’t keep up
the pace to get me into Portland by 9pm (which is when the bus leaves
from Portland to take us back to Seattle).  The straw that broke the
camel’s back was that my rear wheel was falling apart, the rim was
cracking and it seemed a bit dangerous to keep riding on it.  I was
probably already about $400-$450 into getting my Walmart bike ready for
the STP, and didn’t want to spend any more.  I was about to call Karlin
(my neighbor) and let him know that I was going to drop out.  I told
Tenille who had also been reluctantly supportive due to the amount of
time the training was taking, and she urged me to ride.  She told me
that I can’t just bail out on Karlin now…. It was kind of like that
moment in Rocky III, when Adrian, in the hospital bed after having
given birth to their first son, told Rocky that she wanted him to
win…. (well, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic…)  But, we renewed
determination, I went wheel shopping… Apparently, my Walmart bike
didn’t quite have the normal equipment that most road bikes come with. 
Most bikes nowadays come with rear wheel with a cassette where you can
load up the sprockets.  Mine had a screw on sprocket set.  Furthermore,
mine only had 7 gears, whereas most bikes come with 8-10 gears… After
stopping at several bike shops, I’m finally told at Performance Bike
that I need a special wheel… (which is usually code for… "oh man..
this is going to cost you….")  I was prepared to spend up to
$150…   He goes to the wheel section and says, "Sorry man, this is
the only wheel we got for you that will fit your sprockets…. "  It
was $35!!!  AND it was quick release, so I didn’t have to carry around
a big wrench any more!  The best part was that the repair guy spent a
couple hours and tuned up my entire bike!   Best $35 I ever spent on my
bike.
After I got home, I called Karlin to tell him my tale of how I almost
dropped out… It ended up that he, too, was actually having second
thoughts as he just had a baby a few weeks ago and was going through
sleep deprivation as well as not able to train.  We re-committed
ourselves to at least starting the ride.
Today, we went on a ride to Fremont and it felt like we were averaging between 17-18 mph, which is pretty good for me…
We’ll see if I can keep that up for 200 miles.   Regardless, I’m sure there will be an interesting story next week.