How do you support thousands of cyclists in a span of a few hours? You bring a lot of food, beverages, Honey Buckets, mechanics with mad skills, awesome logistical kung fu, a small army of volunteers, James Bond and a DJ.
For many years, REI headquarters’ location has served as a rest stop for the Seattle to Portland (STP) bike ride. This past weekend was the ride, so lots of behind-the-scenes action went into whole shebang, including the setup of tents, tables, bike corrals and placement of Honey Buckets (portable toilets). Plus there’s the food, with approximately a bajillion tortillas to be slathered with peanut butter or cream cheese, bananas and oranges to be sliced, Odwalla and Clif bar boxes unloaded and opened and so on.
Each year we have a new theme for the rest stop—this year’s was “Live and Let Ride”, so there were lots of Bond-themed decorations, T-shirts and even full-on costumes (I saw Moneypenny as well as Mr. Bond… didn’t see Jaws, though). Oh, and a DJ had boppin' tunes going all the while, just to make it that much more entertaining.
With the rest stop sitting roughly 24 miles after the start line, participants’ legs were starting to warm up, things were shaking out and sunscreen wasn’t yet fully soaked in/sweated off. We were expecting somewhere on the order of 7,000 riders to stop by and say hello, some of whom were there at 5am. The main wave really started around 6am, with a constant river of cyclists flowing through our rest stop.
The cool thing was that there were lots and lots of smiles. And, literally, thousands of bikes. Amazing bikes. Amazing people on bikes, smiling. Some standouts included the 3-person “sociable” bike (riders sitting side by side), the tandem set up with a trail-a-bike ridden by a parent and two kids, the skateboarder, the unicyclist, and… well, pretty much everyone, actually. What can I say, I like people on bikes.
After spending a few hours doling out high-fives, cheers and such, I hopped on my bike and rode with the waves of riders for a bit. It truly is a marvelous sight to see cyclists strung out beyond the horizon both in front and behind you. A part of me wanted to ride with them all the way to Portland, but I hadn’t packed a towel, so I thought better of the inclination. Maybe next year.
Oh, and my buddy that was attempting his first STP? He did it. (High five!) He said he feels great, aside from the totally reasonable and to-be-expected “tired and hungry.” He and many, many other people rode their first STP this past weekend and will remember those 200 miles for quite some time. And y’know what? That’s awesome. It was an honor to be able to help support them and all the other riders in their efforts.
Anyway, I've included some shots I grabbed throughout and after my shift.