You're closing in on 200 miles of sitting on a 9 by 4 by inch-ish saddle, two days worth, the finish line is just there in town, then across the Willamette River, and you're there... and then... it starts with a whimper, turns to a drizzle, starts a soaker, relinquishes to rain. Around you the faces bear smiles and glasses are spot with drops.
I have never ridden Seattle-to-Portland: after two sign-ups, two crashes one each year the week before the ride, finally I determined my STP was cursed, and the Kids had me riding 100+ mile rides on such a regular basis the challenge of STP drifted.
On Sunday afternoon I stood under the umbrella of a broad leaf tree at the east end of Portland's Broadway bridge, camera in hand and photographed cyclist after cyclist, all manner of bike, all manner of rider, each and every one sporting a wet, road-grimed smile - smiles that even make me smile as I write this a few days later. These are smiles that explain everything about why we ride a bike - joy!
On Saturday I did 118 miles and about 12,000 feet of climbing in a training ride - prepping for Cascade Cycling Classic stage race next week - more than many could accomplish, but it seemed far less than what these everyday cyclists were just accomplishing. I'm in awe of so many of them - including Paul Casey my first-timer friend, and Skye and his son (on tandem).
I love riding my bike(s) - as one little girl said last year while being given a helmet and first bike, "this is my freedom". Next year I will likely be signing up to try STP for the first time, with my girlfriend Jenn, on our tandem. I'll be doing it for the joy of it, to share with all these first-timers the joy of it, its my freedom.
Congatulations every one and all who shared in this year's Seattle-to-Portland joy - you were awesome!