After last year’s How not to ride STP, I embarked on this season determined to get in some great rides and procure for myself the coveted one-day rider patch. By adding thirty miles to the century course at today’s Flying Wheels, I managed to take a simple local ride and turn it into a very well-supported training ride.
Looking back on the 130-mile ride and realizing that STP is approaching quickly in a few weeks, I figure it’s time to check in with my list from last year and see how I’m doing at taking my own advice.
- Saddle Time
Despite a far busier schedule this year, I’ve managed to make the most of my free time and sneak in quite a few long rides on a healthy shoulder. Ranging from 40 miles to today’s 130-mile ride, my rear end has had plenty of time to get reacquainted with the saddle.
- Tandem vs. Solo
While I’ll certainly miss tucking in behind my Dad this year, we’ll both be riding solo and frankly, I’m stoked. Training alone has reminded me how much I enjoy riding my own way.
- Pain Killer
Don’t leave home without it. Around mile 75 this afternoon, I hit up the med tent for something to help kill the creeping pains in my knees and butt. Though the pain was certainly manageable, with another 55 miles left on the day I wasn’t taking any chances.
- Hauling Gear
I always fail to understand why people insist on carrying so much junk on their back in such a well supported ride and today was no exception. With regular water and food stops it seems silly to carry much more than a couple of water bottles and enough food to get you to the next stop. After three months of having to haul my own food and water for long CTS rides, I was happy to head out today without my water pack. With all my tools tucked into my saddle bag, a phone and jacket in my jersey pockets, I still had plenty of room for a bagel, banana and PB crackers to carry me to the next stop.
- Hills vs Flats
Here in the Pacific Northwest, there are very few “flats”. But for all the hoopla surrounding the Flying Wheels hills (nearly 3,000 feet of climbing), I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy some great “rolling” hills with a terrific tail-wind.
- The Pits
Flying Wheels provided food and water stops around every 15 miles, with the exception of a 30-mile stretch between stops on the century route. While I did actually stop at most of the stops to refuel and stock up, my time at each stop was limited to no more than 5 minutes, not counting any time spent waiting in line for the porta-potty. Grab some food, stand in line while eating, send email to Chris and friends about my status, fill up water bottles and head out. Any food that didn’t manage to make it into my mouth in those 5 minutes was shoved into my pockets for the next stretch.
With only a fraction of the number or riders expected on STP, today’s Flying Wheels was a pleasure to ride. The road free of personal support vehicles, riders were prepared to handle their own minor mechanical issues and kept their families and support to the finish line. In planning for your own STP adventure, please download the Pre-Ride Guide for more information about PSVs and convenient meeting points where family and friends can join the route for a quick hello while staying off of the main route.
- Decent Training
Suffice it to say that I feel much more prepared for STP this year over last year. The long miles are behind me as I round out my training with a few shorter rides in the next couple of weeks. While I’m still a bit daunted by the idea of adding another 70 miles to today’s total, it’s Portland-or-Bust and I’m ready to tackle the one-day ride. It may not be fun and it’s not likely to be pretty…but I’ll finish.
This year’s Flying Wheels was absolutely one of the best and most beautiful rides I’ve ever ridden. With 115 miles on the day I was feeling great and ready to get on with the home stretch. Another round of applause to Cascade for a terrific event.…