The STP is in 14 weeks. I’m taking it on faith that some day, 14 weeks from now, I will be able to ride back-to-back centuries.
Right now, I can’t imagine it.
I’m writing this blog series to chronicle this imagining, this journey from rookie, middle-aged rider to – impossibly! – STP veteran. Maybe something I write here will resonate with your own experience, with your own imagining of the impossible.
I first got on Blue, my beautiful borrowed road bike, on February 2 for a 15-mile ride. Probably the longest I’ve ever ridden in my life. And 0.6 percent of the total 2,494 miles that Cascade recommends for STP training.
Biking’s a lot easier when you know that.
The countdown to being able to ride 100 miles a day officially begins with the start of the Cascade Training Series this Saturday. I’ve been training for the training, and nearly every ride I take is the longest I’ve ever ridden. After my first 15-mile ride, I rode 19.67 miles. Two weeks after that I rode the Chilly Hilly, 32.78 miles according to my phone app. I spent the next couple of weeks in the 30s, and broke 50 for the first time last weekend.
It takes a long time to ride 50 miles.
I dread every ride, afraid of the distance, afraid of the hills. And at the end of every ride, I can’t wait to get back on Blue.
Last weekend’s ride was the first time I’ve ridden in warm sun. Makes a difference to be warm. My phone app says it was 50.9 miles; the Cascade Free Daily Ride description says it was 42.5 miles (with 3384 feet of elevation). I’m going to believe my phone.
We started in Sammamish and rode to Snoqualmie Falls, and then around a beautiful, rolling loop through Weyerhauser property. With the road stretching out in a gentle, glorious ribbon, snowy mountains in the distance and the Snoqualmie River sparkling below me, I laughed out loud as I streamed down the hill. “Thank you,” I called to the ride leader. “Thank you for taking me here!”
“Are you still thanking me?” she asked later on a long uphill.
I decided then that I would choose something to be thankful for during every CTS ride. That I would hold that appreciation as I work up the hills, and the miles, and the impossible distance.
On Saturday, I was thankful for the warm breeze on my face on that beautiful day.
Kathryn Saxer is currently enrolled in the Cascade Training Series, a 13-week training series designed to prepare Cascade members physically and mentally for the Group Health STP or RSVP. She’s a personal and professional coach in Seattle. When not learning how to bike long distances, she likes to run in the mountains, share adventures with her 7- and 9-year-old children, and cook terrible dinners for her beloved and long-suffering partner. She’ll be reporting on her CTS journey weekly.