STP 2006 (cont.)

Mira and I rode in the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, a 200 mile ride that leaves from the University of Washington football stadium parking lot and finishes in the Rose Quarter of Portland. We’d planned to take this ride since before becoming engaged to be married. I could tell that Mira was becoming increasing nervous in the last few days before the ride. This was her first organized bike ride, and I think some of the people she talked to about it made it sound more difficult than it actually is. That’s always the way it is. Dan Poliak, who has a house near the office, was kind enough to let us stay with him on the Thursday and Friday nights before the ride, and was also extraordinarily helpful by getting up early on the Saturday of the start of the ride and taking us over to the start.We got a relatively late start at 7:30. All of the riders who run the route over one day start really early. Those of us wo take two days can afford to start later. I was not until we had been riding for about an hour, and had caught up with some groups, did Mira relax and realize that this would be a fun ride and not an ordeal . . . until later.This ride is not an very social event. Everyone is either too fast, too scared or too tired to make friends along the way. However, we did meet Phil. At least we think that was his name. He rode up to us about 10 miles into the ride and proceeded to talk his head off for the next hour. Of course I sped ahead right away and left Mira behind to make small talk. Alas, however, even Mira found him uninteresting and course. A few miles later he stopped at a rest area to our relief.The first day of the ride, through Washington, is definitely the better of the two days. The first 50 miles include plenty of traffic signals, which are a real drag, but the second half of the second day the ride used an extended bike trail under tree-cover to take us into Centralia, our 100 mile destination at the end of the first day. Since this was my second time on this ride, I knew what to expect at the half-way point. Centralia College opens itself up to the riders, offering showers, camping, dinner and a beer garden with screens showing the Tour de France, which runs at this time in July. For dinner, it was lasagne and salad, followed by starburst fruit chews for dessert. Definitely not five star, but Mira didn’t waste any time with it and gobbled away. After dinner, at about 8:00, it was a short walk to our tent, which Mira used to get a long night’s sleep. Nervous energy has kept her from sleeping too much the night before, but after the longest bike ride of her life and a belly full of lasagna, she was out like a light. The second day started with a breakfast of pancakes, eggs and sausage at the school cafeteria, again. The Tour de France was playing live on the tv, so we ate during the finish and were then off for our second day. This day was less beautiful than the first, but got better after we crossed the Columbia River into Oregon. Of course, immediately after arriving in Oregon we stopped and ate at the first Mexican restuarant we could find. Then it was out to sleep for about an hour. And it was really hot out there.Anyway, we finally cycled into Portland, Mira gave a cheer as we crossed the city limit. But, funny enough, there is one small hill and another bridge to cross before arriving at the ultimate destination in the Rose Quarter. We had a quick beer in the beer garden before leaving to stay with a friend of Mira’s who was kind enough to let us stay with her.

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