2016 Seattle To Portland Bicycle Classic 1-Day Report

The 2016 Seattle to Portland bicycle classic has come and gone!  Last year a group of friends did STP in two days.  This year, a friend and I challenged ourselves to do it in a single day.  Mission accomplished!

For those that may not know what STP is, it’s a 205 mile bicycle ride starting from Seattle WA to Portland OR.  Riders may choose to ride it in one or two days.

With all the training and effort put into riding STP in a single day, here I wanted to document everything up to, during, and after the ride.  The following is a somewhat detailed account of my experience.

*** Disclaimer:  I am in no way, shape, or form, a physician, physical therapist, coach, or anything close to knowing what the hell I’m doing.  The following is just my experience as a novice/newbie on a road bike.  Everyone is different and your results may and will differ from my own.***

History

To understand my 2016 riding season, I suppose understanding where I started from will give you a clearer overall picture of what it took to prepare to ride STP in a single day.

I assume any physical activity prior to 2015 didn’t have much bearing on my cycling health or efficiency.  Having said that, the majority of my past exercise history was with weight training.  After years of weight training (~20 years) I developed some pain in key parts of my body (right elbow, lower back) and stopped lifting around 2013.  In 2015 I bought my first road bike since middle school.  With that bike, I trained and rode in the 2015 STP 2-day ride.

After this first STP I had a better idea about cycling gear and what hardware I wanted to ride with for the 2016 1-day ride.  I purchased my Cannondale Synapse soon after.

 With the 2016 incoming season, I was 5′ 7″ and 211 lbs.  Most, if not all, physicians would classify me as obese (fat).

Training

During the off-season, my riding consisted of a relatively flat 14 mile commutes home from work, 2-3 times a week.  Training for STP really began in January with a slow buildup to STP.  I had done a handful of century rides within 6 weeks of STP with sprinkles of 50-75 mile rides here and there.  Days prior to the ride, my legs felt the strongest they have ever felt.  By ride day I was down to about 205 lbs.

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Ride Goals

There was only one goal I had for this ride.  Alright, well maybe 2; finishing in one day and maintaining good levels of nutrition/hydration.  My real goal throughout the ride was focused around nutrition.  I knew the key to me finishing in one day was to keep my energy level up and staying hydrated.

Hydration:  I used a Camelbak.  To many road cyclists, wearing a Camelbak backpack is a big faux pas.  Do I care?  As long as it makes it easier to keep hydrated, I’ll use it.  Within the bladder, I packed it full of ice and about 32 oz of water, refilling it at stops.  Throughout the ride I tried to drink every few miles.  By my guess, I consumed about 128 oz of water through the whole ride.  Was that enough?  No.  My guess is that this was about half of what I should have consumed for the day.

Nutrition:  Within the Camelbak I packed 5 Denver rice cakes (185 cal / serving), 1 banana, 2 Snickers mini bars, Big Chees-It crackers, Ibuprofen, Tums, and Saltsticks.  I also had 4 Camelbak Podium Ice (21 oz) insulated bottles, each containing water mixed with 2 scoops of Hammer Perpetuem and 2 scoops of Heed.  To help maintain their freshness, I froze them overnight.  I carried 2 bottles for the first 150 miles and the third for the last 50.  As they melted, I sipped on them throughout the ride.  At mile 150 I was able to replenish my supplies.

Ride Day

Weather:

The whole day was overcast, except for maybe an hour or two of sun at the end of the day, thankfully.  Ambient temps got up to as high as 82, but while moving it didn’t feel anywhere close to 82.  It was comfortable throughout the day.

Wakeup:  3am

Slept well for about 5 and 1/2 hours. I wasn’t very nervous, yet.  My only concern was going #2 before putting my gear on.

Nutrition:  1 bagel with strawberry cream cheese.  1 cup of coffee.  5 Ibuprofens

Mile 0:  UW Seattle:  5am

Excited and nervous at this point.  After all the hours and miles training for this day, I was ready to get this done!  Just needed to avoid any altercations with all the other riders.

Nutrition:  1 banana

Fatigue level:  0/10

Mile 24:  REI rest stop Kent:  6:48am

As one would expect, lots of congestion.  Riders everywhere.  Saw a few mechanical issues on the side of the road, but thankfully no bodily injuries.

We had a headwind heading south.  ~7 mph based on what http://www.timeanddate.com reported.  Ugh.  We tried to find a pace line that would help.

Nutrition:  1 Denver rice cake, 1/4 role of peanut butter tortilla (Cascade provided), 5 Ibuprofens, 1 Saltstick

Fatigue level:  2/10

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At the first rest stop.  2016 STP on July 16, 2016 in Kent WA, USA. Photo credit: Jason Tanaka

Mile 54:  Spanaway Rest Stop:  9:39am

At this point, things were going as expected.  Physically I felt good but I noted a few minor issues that I knew would become bigger issues.  Slight fatigue in my neck.  Slight feeling of cramping in my right calf.  Hands began getting numb.

At this stop, Crush Kids Cancer (charity I was riding for) was there providing catered food for us.  Time to refuel, but mindful of not overeating.

Nutrition: Chicken Enchilada, rice, pasta salad, 1/2 Gatorade, 2 Saltsticks

Fatigue level:  3/10

Mile 71:  McKenna Stop:  10:16am

About 5-10 miles to this point, we were in a decent pace line, except for 2 tandem riders.  They looked to be dad + kid and mother + kid.  They sucked.  They repeatedly shifted forward/back within the line, weaving back and forth, and showing a wheel to other rides.  I almost came into contact with one of them at least twice.  Time to get away from these people, so we stopped for a quick potty break.

Nutrition:  None

Fatigue level:  4/10

Mile 88:  Tenino Mini Stop:  11:17am

Took my first turn pulling a small group leading up to Tenino.  Was feeling decent, but definitely hungry for some food of any substance.  Knowing we were meeting a friend’s wife at the half way point, we didn’t stay long.

Fatigue level:  5/10

Nutrition:  5 Ibuprofens, 1 Saltstick

Mile 101:  Centralia Stop:  12:13pm

I was tired.  The bottom of my feet were hurting, my neck was sore, and slight inner right knee pain.  Thankfully the cramping never got any worse.  I assume the Saltsticks helped.

Here we met up with my riding buddy’s wife.  She had Subway sandwiches ready for our consumption.  Thanks Emily!!!

After the half way point, the rolling hills really started.  I hate hills.  I really hate climbing.  I REALLY hate hills.  This is the point the ride turned into a slow grind.

Nutrition:  6″ Subway turkey sandwich, 1 Snickers mini bar

Fatigue level:  6/10

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Just leaving the halfway point of the ride.  2016 STP on July 16, 2016 in Centralia WA, USA. Photo credit: Jason Tanaka

Mile 121:  Winlock Mini Stop:  2:21pm

I hate hills.  Peddle peddle peddle.

Nutrition:  2 Denver rice cakes, 1 Snickers mini bar, Chees-It crackers

Fatigue level:  7/10

Mile 146:  Lexington Rest Stop:  4:39pm

Quick stop here as my energy levels were dropping.  I didn’t plan to have any food when we met up with my wife at mile 150, so better get food where we can.  Before leaving, I texted the wife and requested hot french fries 🙂

Nutrition:  1/2 PBJ handwich, 1/2 turkey sandwich, 2 sugar cookies, some potato salad.

Fatique level:  8/10

Mile 150: Kelso:  4:59pm

I was really tired.  Here my wife greeted us with a cooler packed with fluids and the recently requested hot french fries.  Hmm, those fries were awesome!   I couldn’t eat them fast enough.

The fresh cold fluids and hot food definitely gave me a boost.  I could feel a bit of my energy levels coming back.  It couldn’t have come at a better time.  Thank you Sumer (wife)!

From here we soon crossed over the Lewis and Clark bridge.  The good news is that once we got over the bridge, our route direction changed and we finally got a break from the headwind, which turned into a tailwind.  The ride was much easier and I was seeing cruising speeds between 20 and 24 mph.

Nutrition:  McDonald’s large fries, 2 coconut waters, 1 Snickers mini bar, 4 Ibuprofens, 1 Saltstick

Fatigue level: 8/10

Mile 176:  St. Helens Rest Stop:  6:57pm

Stopped at the St. Helens rest stop to meet and visit with one of the follow ride’s parents and girlfriend.  I knew we were about 30 miles from finish and had 2 hours to do it.  With the decent tailwind, I wasn’t too concerned about getting to the finish by 9pm.

At this point, my rear was starting to get pretty sore.

Nutrition:  Banana

Fatigue level:  9/10

Last 30 miles:

As the miles ticked off, my energy level and moral began to drop off significantly.  As the vehicles sped past on the freeway I couldn’t help but think how all this could be over within minutes if I were in a vehicle.  Is it over yet?  It was like watching the clock on the wall in high school class, except I was watching the miles on my Garmin.  But with only a few miles left there was no way I was quitting!

Fatigue level:  10/10

Mile 197:  8:29pm

Feeling exhausted, I had no energy left, but I knew the finish was just around that corner. To help me get through the last few miles, I needed a little sugar, so I made a quick stop on the side of the road.

Nutrition:  1 Snickers mini bar

Fatigue level:  11/10

Mile 206:  Portland Finish:  9:07pm.

As you would assume, I was grateful to finally finish.  YES!  Though I was too tired to really celebrate or understand the accomplishment.

I was really happy to see my wife.  As soon as I got through the finish line, she was there to help and support me.  Taking my bike and letting me do nothing.  So grateful!!!

Fatigue level:  10/10

Nutrition:  Everything I could get my hands on 🙂  A big burrito, 1 Snickers mini bar, and a Coke.

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At the finish line.  Tired, exhausted, and hungry.  Photo with my training and riding buddy JR Reyes.  2016 STP on July 16, 2016 in Portland OR, USA. Photo credit: Jason Tanaka

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The 2016 1day finisher’s patch.  2016 STP on July 17, 2016 at STP. Photo credit: Jason Tanaka

Post Ride – The Day After

After leaving the finish line, the wife and I went to our hotel in Vancouver where I showered and hit the bed.  I was out.

The next day I was a zombie.  I had a hard time concentrating on the road driving home so I asked the wife to drive for a bit.  I was just zoning out.  Legs and rear were sore.  Right knee was stiff.  Otherwise I felt better than I had thought I’d feel after being on a bike for 12+ hours and 200+ miles.

Throughout the day I could feel I was dehydrated.  My mouth seemed like it was constantly dry.  I don’t think I went #1 all day until about 4pm, which is when I really started to feel normal again.

Pacelines

Just a quick note here about the pacelines during the ride.  My guess is we rode in a single line paceline for about 50% of the time.  With the headwind for the first 150 miles, it definitely helped when it was safe to be in one.  At other times it just wasn’t safe.  For the first half of the ride, some riders weren’t as experienced.  Some didn’t signal hazards, some were all over the place.  Once we began the second century, the crowds thinned out.  All the 2-day riders were gone and you could just tell that the riders around you were a bit more experienced/serious about their riding.  After the Lewis and Clark bridge, with the tail wind, the advantage of being in a paceline was almost none.

Summary

With all the hard work and time put into this, I want to thank a few key people who help me along the way.

First, JR, for being a great riding buddy. Always pushing me to train harder and becoming a stronger rider. Thanks duder!

Second, all the folks who donated to the cause I rode for, Crush Kids Cancer (http://giveto.seattlechildrens.org/page.aspx…). Han, Miki, and Andrew. Thank you all for your contributions to help the kids fighting their cancers. Altogether, we raised $650!  They may never know who you are or what you did for them, but I will. Much appreciated!

And last but not least, my wife Sumer. For supporting me for all the time (hours and hours) spent training for the event, for being one of our personal mini stops to bring us ice cold fluids and those french fries. Those fries hit the spot for sure! And then the after-ride support. I was pretty useless after the ride and having your help was just plain AWESOME!!!

So what’s next? Well, I can tell you what isn’t going to be in my near future… Bike rides.

Stats:

For a bike computer, I used the Garmin Edge 1000.  I tried Garmin’s live tracking feature, but it was intermittent.  Nice idea, but execution was buggy.

  • Time:  16:07:19 (12:39:22 moving)
  • Distance 208.23 miles
  • Elevation Gain 5,000 ft
  • Calories:  6,155 (Garmin based)
  • Avg Speed:  13.2 mph (16.5 moving)
  • Avg Power 120 W (161 normalized)
  • Avg Temp 63.8 F

Strava Report

 Until next time…

Jason

2016 Track Season Opener

*** Disclaimer:  This post is more of an update about where I’ve been since my last post.  Nothing earth shattering ***

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Well, it’s been over a year since I last posted.   Why?  Burn out!  2014 was super busy for my photography business.  I was shooting for 4 different track orgs, running my photo booth business, and working my normal full time job.  By the end of 2014 was just plain burnt out.  I had no time to do anything else and I mean zero.  My marriage suffered.  My work at my full time job suffered.  My passion for photography suffered.  By the end of 2014 I was ready to walk away from all my professional photography responsibilities.

For 2015 I took a step back and knew I had to cut back on my photography responsibilities if I wanted to keep my sanity.  As a result, I let go my shooting commitments to all but one track organization.  When the 2015 off season arrived, I spent some time trying to rekindle the amateur photographer in me by shooting things I had not already experienced;  bird photography.  Wow, now that is a difficult type of photography!

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Skagit Valley Eagles on January 7, 2016 at in Dening WA. Photo taken by Jason Tanaka

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Bird Photography on January 25, 2016 at in Stanwood WA. Photo taken by Jason Tanaka

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Bird Photography on January 25, 2016 at in Stanwood WA. Photo taken by Jason Tanaka

Well the 2016 track season is finally here and last Sunday was the 2-Fast season opener.  Beautiful day to be out and enjoying the sunshine!  Dusted off the ol’ cameras and got to work!

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The Canon TSE

Local HS football game. http://www.JasonTanaka.com

I’ve always been interested in using a tilt shift lens. I finally got a hold of the Canon 24mm 3.5 TSE. Interesting lens that’s for sure. I’m having a ton of fun with it. Couple things to note.
1. Getting the work flow with working with all the knobs while trying to use live view to get focus and exposer set has been a challenge.
2. Using live view to set exposure has been tough, especially in low light conditions. With my eyes adjusted to the low light, the exposer from the back of the screen seems bright enough, but it’s not.

All in all, I’m having fun with it.

My days in the box. http://www.JasonTanaka.com

Took a couple friends to NSRA farm up north. http://www.JasonTanaka.com

A friend’s wedding. http://www.JasonTanaka.com

Light Balancing Act

At Myrtle Edwards park in Seattle with the old Seattle PI building as the backdrop. http://www.Jasontanaka.com

One of the things I really enjoy in photography is playing with strobes. I hear many photographers say they are ‘ambient’ photographers and I wonder why? Artificial light should be treated as another tool in a photographer’s bag of tricks. Master your strobes and master your lighting. Master your lighting and you’re one step closer to mastering photography.
Not being a master of anything yet, I try to find reasons to shoot with my strobes; little or big strobes. On Saturday, I practiced on balancing my strobe lighting against the power of the sun. Strobe vs. ambient. Since the ambient lighting is constant, there are two places where you can make adjustments to work with the ambient light; in camera and your strobes.
Generally speaking my workflow is as follows:
1. Think about how you want your photo to look. Without a target, how do you know where to aim?
2. Position the subject and evaluate the ambient light. This is the base that I work from.
3. Assuming my strobes have enough power to do what I want, I position them based on how I want the light to fall on my subject.
4. Power up the strobes at 1/2 power. This is normally my starting power level.
5. Test and calibrate the strobes. This is the tricky part.
A. With the camera in manual mode, compose my subject and set my camera settings to my desired exposure using only ambient light as the light source. Being mindful of my camera’s max sync speed, I may also use a couple different filters. Polarizers add some contrast, reduce glare, and add some pop to some colors. ND filter to knock down the strength of the ambient light. I have 2, 6, and 10 stop ND filters to play with. Generally the polarizer + 2 stop ND filter is enough to knock down the ambient lighting to a controllable level.
B. Power up your strobes, fire off a shot and evaluate. If the strobes do not provide enough light, I can either move the strobe(s), increase the strobe output or open up my aperture.
C. Repeat step 5B until I get the correct strobe exposure.

As I execute step 5, I ask myself a few things. Are my strobes to be the key light or just fill? If key, will they have enough juice to do what I want them to do? Should the expose of the ambient light be neutral or under? If underexposed, how much?

Behind the scenes, what the header images looks like as shot from the other side of the main bike. – http://www.jasontanaka.com

Behind the scenes with the big strobes. trying to overpower the sun which is opposite the strobes. – http://www.jasontanaka.com

Balancing ambient light and strobe light. – http://www.jasontanaka.com

Playing with the little strobes, I turn the crew into light stands. Why? Experimentation. – http://www.jasontanaka.com

Unintentional Twins Day

KTM Akrapovic RC8-R. – jasontanaka.com

Personal Projects; the key to keeping my photographic sanity

Ahh… With the end of spring and summer coming to a close, I finally get a chance to do some personal photography work. I just love not having the pressure to satisfy anyone but myself. No worries about making money. No concerns about making others happy. I get to work on something I enjoy doing. Personal projects reminds me of why I got into photography in the first place. These I call my amateur projects 🙂 I need to be more of an amateur…

Honda RC51 – jasontanaka.com

Aprilia RSVR Factory – jasontanaka.com

Maturnity Shoot


One environment I truly enjoy shooting in is inside the studio. I really love playing with all the lighting positions, modifiers, power levels, etc. Putting that all together is just something I really have fun in. Throw in a subject that I’ve never shot before and that’s when I go into overdrive.
Last Sunday was the first time I’ve been back into a studio for several months. A friend of mine is 8 months pregnant and asked if I’d shoot her maternity portraits. I of course said yes!
One of the more interesting aspects of this shoot was trying to emphasize her bump. Changing the angle I was shooting from as well as the position of the key light made a significant difference in how her belly looked. The mother to be wanted more of a dramatic lighting so we went with one large softbox for the key and sometimes used a strip box for the kicker.
All in all, I had fun and just reinforced my need to find my own studio. Having my own space would also help make space at home. The wife will be happy to get all my gear out of there.

BTW, these were just quick edits that I did after the shoot. I’ll do more work after the mother to be has culled through all the photos.

Mother and Father to be. – http://www.jasontanaka.com

Softbox behind mother to be. – http://www.jasontanaka.com