Surviving A One-Day STP

<img src=”http://kellidiane.smugmug.com/photos/random.mg?AlbumID=3160397&Size=Thumb&rand=2396” align=right”>After my half-assed approach to last year’s two-day ride, I wasn’t entirely convinced that the One Day Rider patch I coveted so much would actually be worth the time and training required. By the time spring came around, I had hung up my running shoes and decided that this was the year.

So how does one go about surviving two hundred miles on a bike? Glad you asked. Read on for the answers to the most common questions I’ve gotten throughout training and after the finish.

  • What distance did you train up to before the double?

    I leveraged the Cascade Training Series rides to get in most of my longer rides, working up from 40 miles and topping out at 130 before STP. The most difficult part of training long mileage is planning food and water stops without having to carry too much with you. And without knowing many of the back roads well, I relied heavily on the well planned CTS rides to get in my saddle time. While it’s important to train your legs for the distance, the real trouble comes in training the rest of your body. 12 hours is a very long time for your back and shoulders to be reaching, while your butt rests precariously upon a narrow seat and starts chafing in your bike shorts. Once one passes the 130-150 mile marks, the legs are the least of your worries.

  • What did you learn from last year’s ride?

    I learned that taking preventative pain killer can be the difference between a difficult ride and a horrible ride. On the route, I took some at the midpoint and again at mile 140 to keep my rear end in check.

  • What would you recommend for a first-time one-day rider?

    Learn to ride in a group. Really, that goes for any first-time STPer (one or two-day), but is extremely important for the one-day riders. 204 miles is a really long way and there’s little chance of making it completely on your own. Learn to leverage pacelines, start training with your own group that plans to ride together. Drafting is extremely helpful in keeping not only your pace, but also your spirits, up. I’ll be honest, this was difficult for me. Prior to STP I’ve only joined small pacelines and never really felt comfortable. But when I realized somewhere around mile 75 that I was keeping a 21 mph pace and only working at what felt to be a 14 mph pace…I was sold. Save your legs for the long haul, take your turn at the front and get comfortable being surrounded by other cyclists.

  • What was the worst part of the course?

    Highway 30. Long, monotonous, lonely and getting darker. As a one-day rider the crowd had thinned out long before crossing into Oregon and I was feeling the fatigue set in.

  • Would you do a one-day again?

    Definitely, though it’s a tough call. I missed the camaraderie and culture that comes with meeting fellow cyclists during the overnight. But the extra effort required to finish the one-day ride is well worth not having to get up the following day and ride another 100 miles on a sore butt.

Overall, the ride was great and the patch well worth the effort. I entered this year’s season in far better shape than last year and felt pretty well trained in the last couple of weeks before the ride. That said, this is absolutely an approachable ride. With some commitment, training and discipline, nearly anyone can finish a one-day STP. It’s perfectly alright to not ever want to finish a double-century in one day. But wanting it badly enough is enough to take you the rest of the way.