Rookie’s Perspective on Training for the STP: Week 13: 60.6 miles with 2,510′ elevation and 95.1 degree heat

I thought longingly of my insulated booties, fantasizing about cold, rain-dripping feet as we pedaled through the 95-degree heat to Everett.

It was hot on Sunday.

“This is like biking in a sauna,” I shouted out as we pushed our way up a hot exposed hill, the sun reflecting off the blacktop.

To think I complained about being cold back in February.

I had learned my lesson about staying hydrated and covered up from the sun (looking cute be damned) and, besides the hot foot thing, plugged away at the miles without any real complaints. I know we started in Monroe, entered Everett’s city limits, and rode familiar roads in Snohomish, but all I really remember about the ride is enduring it. I’m sure it was pretty.

Map of week 13's ride

“Where’s your smile, Kathryn?” a friend asked.

Too hot to smile.

With an hour’s drive to the start of the ride, I had one of those ridiculous mornings where I somehow lost a half hour getting ready. Frantically late, I pulled money and a credit card out of my wallet and, as an after thought, added my drivers license. After all, I thought to myself, I have my wrist ID, but what the hell. A mile from my house, I realized I forgot socks and had to turn around.

Focused on finding Monroe before 9 a.m., I never even noticed the state trooper on SR522 clocking my speed 12 miles above the speed limit.

“You didn’t even slow down when you passed me,” he scolded as he took my license, registration, and the proof of insurance that my blessed husband remembered to put in our new (to us) car.

I probably wouldn’t have gotten off with just a warning if all I’d had for ID was my CTS wrist band.

“That was you?” my Green 4 cohort laughed when I arrived just in time, stressed and breathless, full of my police story.

Still smiling despite the heat

We lunched someplace called Machias Station at 38.2 miles. There was coffee half a mile down the road, but I was too hot to go find it, which is saying a lot. “Ready to roll,” Paul our ride leader called out. “Wait!” someone shouted, pointing at Samuel, fresh into a giant ice cream cone.

“That’s okay, I’ve got it,” he said, ice cream in hand, as we started the long climb out of Snohomish. That had us giggling.

When we rolled out from the start in Monroe, I found myself hoping my morning’s misadventure with the police wasn’t a sign that I should skip the ride. I’m not particularly superstitious, but I did wonder whether a guardian angel was desperately changing variables – missing socks, chatty state troopers – to avert disaster for me.

Biking and ice cream go together

My unease with biking’s dangers has intensified during CTS as I witness the near misses and human mistakes of bikers and drivers both.  “Remember the bump,” I repeated to myself as we sailed downhill through dark shadow and blinding sunshine, an admonishment from a kind reader in response to nearly falling off my bike last ride.

“Remember the bump.”

My unease has entered my subconscious: I had a dream that I looked at my feet just as Green 4 was ready to roll after a rest stop in the middle of nowhere and realized I’d forgotten to put my bike shoes back on. I futily searched for them as my group rode away without me. At least I had my phone in my dream, a reassuring detail that my subconscious thought to add.

As I spend more and more time riding, I’m no clearer on how to reconcile loving to ride (defensively, carefully) with the obvious and mortal danger of my children losing their mother.

For now, as I ride as S.M.A.R.T. as I am able, I’ll trust that my guardian angel will continue to lose my socks.


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.