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

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May 2016 2-Fast Double Header

And…  May’s 2-Fast track day double header is in the books.  Whew!  Turned out to be the warmest of the season, with temps in the upper 80s.  I know it could and will get hotter, but coming out of the cooler winter, upper 80s is hot!

Some quick photo geek stats:

Total shots taken:

  • Sunday:  9306
  • Monday: 5616

Total shots kept:

  • Sunday:  4212
  • Monday:  2817

Keeper rate:

  • Sunday:  45.3%
  • Monday:  50.2%

One shot in particular that most folks have responded to are what I call the T-Rainier shots.  It is a departure from my normal tight shots, but I like them as well.  Something different.  What do you think?

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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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Sports Shooter Academy XI

A few weeks ago, I attended Sports Shooter Academy, XI.  If you don’t know what Sports Shooter Academy is, it is an intense 5 day workshop of almost non-stop shooting, editing, and critiquing of photos from sporting events.  Workshop instructors included many of the top sports photographers in the industry today.   During my visit, I chose to shoot boxing, soccer, volleyball, and football.

The following is a quick montage of some of the images I captured on and off the field.

You can visit the academy’s website at http://www.SportsShooterAcademy.com

The Degradation Of Quality Photography

As a photographer, I have my opinions about what makes a technically great photo. One person recently made a comment about my photos, “One thing I miss is the lack of realism in the shot. Meaning you don’t set your shutter speed high just cause. It causes a weird effect on the shot. So you might get a less sharp photo but it looks more real.”

How did you read that comment?

Rich Kim focuses his exit

Biggest Wedding To Date!

Most of the weddings I’ve ever attended… Scratch that. All of the weddings I’ve ever attended or worked were around the 100-150 head count. This past Saturday I brought my SeattleSnaps.com photo booth to a wedding with an expected head count of 600! Wow! The night before I just couldn’t imagine a wedding of that size. It was crazy! People everywhere! The photo booth was super popular. There was a constant line of people waiting for the booth.
At one point I swear there was going to be a riot. As folks got rowdy and the line got longer and wider, folks were pushed others towards the booth to the point that the front of the line was inside the booth! People were screaming, the booth was rocking back and forth with about 8 people jammed into it. At that point I started waving my hands and screamed, “STOP! STOP! STOP!”

CRAZY!!!

In the end, I hope that folks enjoyed the booth and I wish the bride and groom the best of luck!

Constant line throughout the night. http://www.SeattleSnaps.com photo booth

Year in Photos: 2012

Ahh, time for my yearly review of the past year. I love reflecting on the past year’s experience that reminds me of where the year has gone. For some of the photos, it seems just yesterday that I was there, while others from days long past. Writing this blog entry forces me to think about the details surrounding each and every one of these photos. I’ll put in a little tidbit about each of the photos that may not be obvious in the photo.

Photographed Jenni Hogan and crew for their first “Connect” show. Jenni has since left Kiro TV to bigger things. I wish Jenni good luck in her new ventures!
Tidbit: At the very beginning of the night, I told Jenni that I didn’t want to be on camera, AT ALL. I think that fact shows in her smile.

Vegas baby!!! 2012 WPPI convention. My first photography convention down in Vegas. Got out for a night stroll to get shots of the strip lights.
Tidbit: This shot was taken on a bridge, through a chain link type of fence. I couldn’t simply put my lens between the links.

Fashion show featuring Lexus’ super car, the LFA.
Tidbit: Prior to the shoot, everything was planning. We had a location for the car, models lined up, and a strict schedule to follow. At time of shoot, everything went out the window. We couldn’t shoot at the location we wanted, none of the models we picked were used, and we started way late. Instead of the 1-2 hours scheduled for the shoot, we had about 45 minutes.

Lexus LFA
Tidbit: This shot was not scheduled. During a pre-show meeting, the brought in the supercar into the garage. I laid down on the garage floor and snapped a few. BTW, the Lexus of Bellevue garage is amazing!

Tidbit: These shots were taken in a room filled with other models going through the same treatment. The room was buzzing.

Fashion model getting her lips put on.
Tidbit: This model’s mother was there and I got the feeling that she was not pleased. Her mother was traditional Chinese which was very conservative. Mother was not happy about all the makeup and hair that her daughter was getting done.

First track day of the season for me. As you can see with rider Chase with rain tires, the season started wet. I only shot a couple of track days at PR this year.
Tidbit: The spot I was shooting from was just off the impact zone. When shooting from there, I’m always conscious about the potential for a rider to come into my space.

Tidbit: As riders go rolling by, they sometimes drag their knee on the ground. As they do, you can hear their knee pucks scraping the ground

Weddings in spring, in Seattle, are a gamble, and this day was no exception. Heavy winds outdoors with light sprinkles. It was a challenge, for sure.
Tidbit: The umbrella was pink.

First track day of the season at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, and the first time shooting at this track for me. Rider Blake coming down “The Ridge”
Tidbit: This was the beginning of the season and the track organization regularly uses inexperienced corner workers. While shooting in this corner, the corner worker was yelling at me to get out of my spot. Why? I have no idea.

One of my favorite shots from the day.
Tidbit: The goal of many newer track riders is to get their knee to touch the ground while going through a corner

Tight shot of rider coming out of T14 at The Ridge Motorsports Park
Tidbit: The faster, experienced track riders have already had their track pictures taken a million times. So how do I make it more interesting? Go for super tight shots?

One of my favorite shots of the year. Rider Mike shows his focus through T6 at The Ridge Motorsports Park
Tidbit: While taking this shot, I thought it was a different rider, Blake, not Mike. Mike had just picked up this suit that was very similar to Blake’s leathers.

Tidbit: Sitting on the outside of T14 at The Ridge Motorsports Park, I heard something coming. Didn’t expect rider Eli to roll in front of my camera on this.

A buddy, Mike, snagged this beauty; the Ducati 1199s Panigale. Was super excited to shoot in Ducati Seattle’s garage.
Tidbit: This shoot was originally scheduled to have a female model in a skimpy outfit. For this shot, I’m glad she didn’t show. I think the model would have taken away from the Ducati.

New lights (Profoto ring light) with model Lindsey
Tidbit: We shot on private property that had a security guard on location. To get to our location, we “donated” a few bucks to the guard to “look the other way” for a few hours.

Model Lindsey at Alki beach at sunset.
Tidbit: Just right to the subject is a “tree” of lights. I used all my lights on location to overpower the sun. 1 Profoto 500w/s strobe and 2 Canon 580EXII speedlights.

At Laguna MotoGP with Cali buddies, enjoying the Cali sunshine!
Tidbit: By this time in the day, each of these fellas already had several beers and feeling nice. Good times!!!

**Click to watch*** Video montage of images taken on my trip down to California for MotoGP at Laguna Seca.
Tidbit: I consciously carried at least one camera at all times to gather enough images for this video. I didn’t know how this was going to come out, but love what did.

2012 Seafair. Blue Angles practice prior to the big weekend.
Tidbit: This was my first time shooting the Angles. Fellow photographers mentioned that this shot was coming and would be cool. I had no idea what they were talking about and the shot came out great!

2012 Seafair. Qualifying heats race by while floating in front of I90 and Mt. Baker.
Tidbit: Shooting from a rocking boat was/is one of the most difficult environments to shoot from.

Wedding season in full swing. Groom with his groomsmen.
Tidbit: Not all the guys were smokers. For those that weren’t, I asked them to just hold one. Can you guess which of the guys smoked and which didn’t?

Wedding season keeps on rollin.
Tidbit: Most weddings don’t allow confetti to be thrown. As a result, after the ceremony, folks had to pick up each and every flower.

Beautiful day at The Ridge Motorsports Park. Rider dragging through T15.
Tidbit: Shooting in full sun can be difficult, but when done right, the colors are amazing. In the mornings when the sun is just peeking out, I tend to shoot in T15 because of the angle of the sun.

How low can you go? Rider running through the carousel at The Ridge Motorsports Park.
Tidbit: It’s one thing to drag a knee in a corner and quite another to drag an elbow.

Rider Ryan coming through “The Ridge” at The Ridge Motorsports Park.
Tidbit: Taking this shot, I was experimenting with my settings. Normally my shutter speed is the important factor to shooting moving objects, but for this angle, I wanted to shoot as wide open (f2.8) as possible.

Rider Brad diving through T14 at The Ridge Motorsports Park.
Tidbit: I just love this angle. The track switches left-right-left in a short distance. This track configuration creates a great backdrop for a rider.

Rider Mike getting low in the carousel at The Ridge Motorsports Park.
Tidbit: Late in the season, it just wasn’t enough to drag knees anymore. A few of the control riders were aiming to drag elbows.

High school football season. This was my first attempt at shooting football. It was a great learning experience.
Tidbit: The one thing I learned quickly for shooting sports, like football, is anticipating where the action will be.

Wedding season winding down. Captured at The Wooden Boats museum in Seattle.
Tidbit: I had my second shooter, JR, hiding behind the couple while holding one of my flashes behind them. You can see the effect of this with the light wrapping around them.

Flash flash flash. Love playing with my flashes.
Tidbit: The wedding couple were on a helicopter ride around the Puget Sound. While waiting for them to return, I asked the wedding party for a few shots.

Rider Mike hanging out in the carousel at The Ridge Motorsports Park.
Tidbit: This is one of my favorite shots of the season. After shooting several different track days, things were getting a little repetitive. I’m always trying to find new angles and ways to shoot the riders.

Exhaust bellows out as rider 59 races around the carousel at The Ridge Motorsports Park.
Tidbit: Getting the heat trails out of the exhaust requires good technique, a particular background, and specific camera settings.

Last wedding of the year. My buddy Shane tying the knot. Although I wasn’t the official shooter and was instructed to stay out of the way, I couldn’t help but capture what I could.
Tidbit: There was only one bridesmaid, AND she was the “official” photographer!?!

Volunteering. Going to start giving back to the community. These were the vendors from Real Change; a homeless advocacy group.
Tidbit: Shot in the late fall, I expected rain and overcast. When time came to take this shot, the clouds parted and the folks smiled.

And with that, I say goodbye to 2012 and welcome 2013! Happy Chrismas and merry new year to everyone!!!