Seattle to Portland cycling 2015 - Reflections

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What is the purpose of doing such painful long rides? Cycling is my passion but these long rides were pushing beyond my limit sometimes. This question keeps popping in my mind either during the long training training  under hot sun or during the lonely riding moments in STP.  The last 80 miles of the 206 miles STP ride , was purely a mind game. Something deep inside me gave me that strength to keep going.  So definitely, the answer to my question was beyond the endorphins or runners’ high – these experiences provided acute stressors that helped me test my limits of body and mind.  On 11th July, second year in succession, along with fellow riders we started biking to Portland
Last year STP experience was tough because of the weather, the temperature shot up to 103 Fahrenheit, the hottest day in Washington. But this year, the weather gods were so kind enough to have one of the most pleasant days to ride with some occasional showers.  But for the love of adventure, this year I met with some unexpected mechanical failures in my bike –  a flat tire ayourphotot the 110th mile. My fix a flat trainings helped me to get going within 10 minutes. But the toughest one came at 120th mile hill climb after Winlock, when the chain and rear gear derailleur broke. One of my goals this year was to complete STP in a day, and this mechanical failure posed a challenge of just an STP finish. One of the passing cars helped me to take my bike back to Winlock pit stop, where Performance Bike had a shack to help the fellow bikers.  A huge thanks to Performance Bike, who helped in changing a new chain and do a temporary fix for my gear derailleurs. But the real problem now was I can no longer shift gears and it would stay on the middle gear throughout. Getting a new derailleur was not possible at that moment. It was 3.30pm and I had lost about 45minutes in fixing the bike. With a single gear and another 86 miles to go, the hills and various climbs in the rest of the route were my real test. For the lost time and the problems with my bike, I made a choice to not stop longer in any of the stops for the rest of the 80+ miles.  I averaged at 12-13 miles per hour for the rest of the day ( this is definitely slower compared to the 18-19 miles per hour speed I averaged in the first 100 miles), but had a total of only 20 minutes stop time and I kept pedaling most of the time at a steady pace. So really the lack of gear shifting and time / speed loss was still manageable with a steady pace and very low resting time to reach the finish line at Portland.  When I reached Portland , it was 10.20 PM and my legs were arguably more soar than the last year finish because of the additional efforts on the bike , but the one day rider badge, given at the finish line, made me forget all the pain in my body.
With the help of friends and family members this year as well we were able to raise about 1000 USD for a charity organization - Asha for Education (Including matching by corporates).  Last year I worked with a different NGO called Isha Vidhya, which is still one of my favorite NGOs making changes in my home country.  I had trained with bunch of other folks in Seattle who support Asha for Education, and hence a change in the charity this year. 
My heartfelt thanks to all the friends and family members who supported me in this years biking journey to Portland by contributing generously to Asha for Education. Your support definitely would make a difference. 
Looking forward to another biking season in 2016.

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