The official word of the Cascade Cycling Club is that if you're fit enough to do the 100-mile Flying Wheels event, then you're fit enough to do the 200-mile STP in one day. The reasoning is that the Flying Wheels has a lot of climbing -- five big climbs to be exact -- while the STP is flat. The truth is that the climbs in the Flying Wheels event aren't particularly long or steep. My personal calculations indicate that riding the 100-mile Flying Wheels is roughly twice as easy as riding the STP.
2007 STP - 200 miles, 13 hours riding time, gentle rollers
2008 Flying Wheels - 100 miles, 6 hours riding time, rollers and hills
The ride starts at Marymoor Park near the Microsoft campus in Redmond. It goes through what we writers call bucolic scenery in which we head through rolling farm lands and pass through quaint small towns like Duvall, Snohomish, and Carnation.
The ride starts at 8:00 am. I wanted to end the ride early in the afternoon because both my brother and Robert's family were coming back to town. Unfortunately, there was a huge line of cars waiting to park, so I didn't get on the bike until 8:15. I rolled along for a couple miles when it hit me -- I didn't lock the car door. In fact, I think I may have left the passenger door wide open when I was putting on my bike shoes. Here's one of the nice things about getting old -- you know who you are and how your mind works. I knew if I didn't turn back then, I'd have spent the entire ride obsessing about my ransacked car with a dead battery. So I turned around, locked the car, and started the ride all over again.
At the 15-mile mark, I reached the first rest stop. I thought about not stopping because I had ridden only 15 miles -- actually 20 miles if you include the turnaround -- but I wanted to see if I could get a map since the course wasn't marked. And what I saw was the best stocked rest stop out of any ride I've been on. It had twenty kinds of energy bars, various power gels and glu shots, bread and bagels for making PBJs, cookies in packages, pop tarts, and all kinds of sports drinks. Unable to resist the siren song of "free stuff," I loaded my pockets and took off.
I rode another 60 miles when I decided to attack. I blew by a few startled cyclists, and then rode to the finish line. At that point, I drove home. And that is the end of this account.