Saturday, July 21, 2007

STP 2007 - Day 1 (0)

Sunrise over Seattle 14th July as I head towards the STP start line. Wondering ... how will the next 2 days turn out?

Bags for the night, packed and tagged, need to dropped off with the right truck. Our truck was the one headed for Bethel Church near Chehalis at the 114th mile.

Trucks lined up... bags stacked up...

At the start line with Tulsi. We were both all set to go, but didn't know where the rest of the gang was!

They were busy taking their pictures :-) L-R it is Vinit, Ankur, Sudarshan, Narendra and Arvind.

We made these helmet decorations (Asha logo) and the Asha bibs which says "Bringing Hope through Education" (thanks to Raji!!)
Finally we Start...

Kids start off too..

STP 2007 - Day 1 (1)

It is a long road ahead.... For the first 25miles I was still getting used to my new bike, never ridden before. I found myself blaming the bike, or the cleats on my shoes or the weight of the hydration pack on my back. For some reason my back felt painful and its the first time I encountered this sensation!

How glad I was to see the REI foodstop!

I dropped my bike and headed straight for food.
Very soon the whole group met..

On the road again... and there was Mt Rainier! On this strech of the road I was biking alone, with my thoughts and the views of Mt Rainier. Surprisingly all my back aches dissappeared :)
Mt Rainier..

On I kept pedalling ... conquered the dreaded Puyallup hill with temperatures soaring above 90F. After all that I had heard about this hill, it didn't feel that bad after all. At the bottom of the Puyallup hill I met Ravi as he effortlessly went past ...

Lunch stop at 54th mile I met everyone again. Food wasn't good but we had to eat and replenish our gatorade stock. Below you can see Raji, Vijay and Sangeetha having lunch and chatting with Vaibhav. On the right picture is Sree filling gatorade.

After a good strech I was completely refreshed to face the heat and the road, and endure my bike seat :)

Finally after more than an hour and half lunch break we left. Here onwards I was biking with Srijan and Sree.

STP 2007 - Day 1 (2)

The road ahead was mostly flat. A rail road ran parallel to it. The view for a few miles ahead was the clear blue sky and the straight road lined with coniferous trees on both sides. I cannot draft, which was good for Srijan and Sree who drafted behind me.

Very soon we reached the next mini stop which was serving cold chocolate milk. L-R on the left picture is Ravi, Sree, me, Ankur, Srijan, Narendra, Tulsi and Vinit. We shared many laughs under the cool shade of this roadside tree.

For some in our group like Sudarshan, biking wasn't enough :) !! Hydrated, I mount my bike again.

Soon we came to a bike trail around 13miles long. Chatting and biking under the cool shade of the trees made life seem simply good!

Beside this lake I had my first fall while trying to stop and remove my cleats. Just when I thought I was getting used to cleats!

Another ministop where they served nice cookies.

At long last we reach the mid point at 100th mile - Centralia. Hundreds of bikers spend the night here. The organizers had laid tents on the open spaces in the town center. Raji poses in front of the Centralia clock tower.

Our reward was free ice creams! I talked to the old couple disbursing the ice creams about Asha and they gave us a bag full of ice creams :) We finished 1..2..3..maybe more each.
In search of Bethel church at Chehalis, our haven for the night, we hit the road again.

The sun sank low in the sky, and the road to our destination for the night was unknown. Though we asked several people for directions to Bethel Church we did not get a good answer, so we kept biking on. All of a sudden, far far away beyond the farmlands, we were rewarded with a panorama of Mt Rainier, St. Helens and Mt Adams :)! Arvind took these awesome pictures of Mt Helens glowing in the light of the setting sun. Another one of the priceless moments!
Famished, exhausted and sore we finally reached at Bethel church around 8:00pm. After a good pasta dinner and hot shower, we hit the sack on our sleeping bags.

STP 2007 - Day 2 (0)

Group snap before starting the remaining 90 miles on July 15th morning. L-R is Pritam, Ravi, Srijan, Tulsi, Vinit, Sree and me.
We started with the Napavine hill on top of which we met the famous banana bread lady.

Soon we crossed Winlock, the town which had "The world's largest egg".

Bikers ride on after a break at Winlock...

Restroom and water breaks typically turned out to be longer than we anticipated because of the long lines. Sree is making good use of his time by checking out the route map.

Our lunch stop was at the 145.7th mile at Lexington Park. Another long queue for the hungry riders.

The gang having lunch.

The scene at the lunch stop...