The Old New Thing

# Seattle to Portland (STP) 2007 trip report, part 4 of 4: St. Helens to Portland and beyond

Raymond Chen

Note: You probably want to start with Part 1. 1:33pm: S and I arrive at the St. Helens High School food stop (mile 175) just as J, M, and A are on their way out. S is pretty wiped out by this point and heads over to the nearby McDonalds for a cup of Coke and an order of French fries. “What I need is fat,” she explains. (And she was hardly the only person to stop at McDonalds for “alternative fuels”.) Here’s how the math works out:

high fructose corn syrup + caffeine + starch + fat = ready for the last 30 miles

“Where should we meet up when we get to Portland?”

Let’s meet at the adult video store at 55th.

“What?”

It’s right by the park. On the right hand side. Can’t miss it.

Oh, um…

Distance: 216.09 miles
Average speed (when moving): 13.0mph
Maximum speed: 31.8mph Other statistics (estimated): Travel time: 23 hours
Rest time: 6½ hours (28% of travel time)
Google Map Route Epilogue But wait, it’s not over yet. First, we drop off our bicycles at the bike trucks. The trucks don’t go as fast as the bus, so you need to load the bikes early. It’s much better that your bike waits for you in Seattle than for you to wait for your bike. Next, we find our bags in the baggage corral and grab a change of clothes and a towel for the free showers. We head out to the showers and find that the women have a distinct advantage: The line for the women’s shower is just ten minutes; the line for the men’s shower is forty. (I’m told that, contrary to stereotype, the men are taking longer showers than the women.) Since the wait for a shower is so long, I decide to use a portable toilet as a changing room. Upon emerging, I use a water bottle and a face towel to wipe myself down, bringing me from icky to slightly less icky. That’ll do for now. Z meanwhile gives up on waiting in line for a shower and goes the bathroom in the Doubletree hotel to change and clean up. As we were riding along Highway 30, S said that the first thing she’s going to have at the finish line is an ice cream shake. I responded that I’m looking forward to pizza. There was no ice cream shake at the finish line, but there was a pizza stand, so at least I got my pizza. S said that her new plan is to call her husband as we neared Seattle and tell him to go get a Blizzard and put it in the freezer so it’ll be ready for her when she gets home. I stop by the bicycle equipment stand and buy myself a replacement mirror. It’s the same model that A has, one with which he is quite satisfied. 6:20pm: While waiting in line to board the 6:30 bus back to Seattle, we notice one of the bicycle trucks appears to have run into mechanical difficulties. There’s a person lying under the rear axle doing… something. We don’t remember seeing it when we dropped off our bicycles, so there’s a possibility that our bicycles are on the broken truck. We cross our fingers and hope for the best. On the ride back to Seattle, traffic on I-5 jams up near Centralia. I know exactly why, but nobody believes me until we see them: the monuments by the side of the highway. Northbound traffic always slows down there, and it speeds up once you get past it. (I have a modest proposal for fixing this, which I may write up one of these days.) A little further up the road is the billboard. I always keep an eye out for the billboard (which often has different messages for northbound and southbound traffic) whenever I travel along I-5. During the trip back, we tally our damage.

Rider Mishap
J (none)
M spill + flat tire
A (none)
S slipped chain
Z slipped chain + flat tire × 3
me (none)

Ah, but we counted our chickens too soon. Upon arrival in Seattle, we find that only J and M‘s bicycles made it back. The rest of us must’ve been on the unlucky truck. (Not counting A, who is driving back to Seattle with his wife and son.) Need to update the chart.

Rider Mishap
J (none)
M spill + flat tire
A (none)
S slipped chain + bike not delivered
Z slipped chain + flat tire × 3 + bike not delivered
me bike not delivered