Starting at 4:45 a.m. Saturday, 10,000 people on bikes will leave a parking lot near Husky Stadium to ride 202 miles to Portland. Cascade Bicycle Club’s Seattle to Portland Classic is their biggest ride of the year is a national phenomenon, drawing people from 40 states and four countries.
Of the 10,000 participants, 2,049 are from Seattle (including 71-year-old Jerry Baker, who has ridden the STP every year for all 33 years). 26 percent of the participants are women, according to a fact sheet from Cascade.
Have fun, all you STPers! Eat an energy bar for me!
People of all ages are coming from the world over to ride in the 33rd annual Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (STP). Nationally recognized and named “one of the best cycling events in the nation” by Bicycling Magazine, Cascade Bicycle Club’s STP will take place Saturday and Sunday, July 14 – 15, 2012.
The 200-mile route, designed to be completed in one or two days, takes riders from the University of Washington in Seattle to Holladay Park across the street from Lloyd Center in Portland, Ore. The ride is an excellent way to tour the Pacific Northwest and will draw 10,000 participants, ranging from kids up to one 85-year old.
The STP is Cascade Bicycle Club’s largest fundraising event to benefit bicycle education, advocacy, commuting and riding programs.
The sold-out event will welcome riders from 40 states and three other countries including Canada, Japan and Malaysia. Many are first-time riders, but one person – Jerry Baker of Seattle – has participated every single year since the ride began. Of the 10,000 riders, nearly 2,500 make the entire 200-mile trip on Saturday in one push, arriving into Portland on Saturday evening. The remaining participants spend the night near Centralia, host of the midpoint festival.
Rest stops are established in Kent, Spanaway, Lexington, Wash., and St. Helens, Ore. to provide riders with food, drink and a place to rest.
The STP is the kind of event that brings out people for all kinds of reasons. Some ride in memory of lost friends, while others take the opportunity to push the envelope of what’s possible. Here are a few of the touching and inspiring things people plan this year:
Kim and Don of Bellingham, riding partners for 23 years, have decided to get married at the mid-point at the St. John’s Church in Chehalis. They expect to be hitched by 1 p.m. and back on their bikes to finish the STP in one day.
From the other Washington to ours, the Wigglesworth family is traveling from D.C. to ride the STP on a bicycle built for four. Mom, Laura, will captain her two daughters and her husband on this unique bicycle.
Justin Ferrari, Madrona father of two who was tragically killed by a stray bullet in the Central District in May, had been planning to ride the event this year. His friends are riding in his honor, celebrating Justin’s life and friendship.
Ben, an Auburn middle school principal, took up bicycling when budget cuts led the school to eliminate bussing for students who lived within a mile of the school. He decided to start riding a bike to school to show students and parents it was doable. His argument was: “…as fat as I was, if I could do it, they could do it.” His story unfolds from there, with his son biking to school with him and his wife joining in on rides. He lost 100 pounds, she lost 40, and he credits bicycling with turning around his diabetic symptoms and poor heart health.
Margaret, 70 years old, is coming from Singapore to ride with her son, who lives in Issaquah. She tells us, “I love cycling and have cycled in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan but not as long as the STP. This event is extra special because my son said that he would ride all the way with me at a speed I’m comfortable with. I’m 70 years old and my son is in his forties. It would be fantastic if I can complete the ride. It is a great challenge for me.”
“What I want for Christmas is…” Stephen of Bainbridge Island has ridden the event three times on a tandem (bike built for two) with his 12-year-old daughter since she asked to ride the STP for her Christmas present.
Shani of Bonney Lake is a single mom of five, but she’s still found the time to get ready for the event, losing 120 pounds in the process.
Twenty year old University of Washington student Troy of Kirkland is riding to honor his close friend, Brandon Thomas, who suffered from Chronic Blushing and killed himself on the UW campus in May.
Yes, he’s got four wheels, but James of Lake City isn’t riding, he’s gliding to Portland on a longboard, which is a long skateboard. Several fresh pairs of shoes are required along the way.
Burien resident Kevin returns to ride on one wheel all the way to Portland. He says of the event, which he rides on a unicycle, “I never heard a single negative comment and two days of solid, positive life affirming encouragement by earnest people challenging themselves also to pedal 200+ miles.”