I wrote this but either it didn't pass moderation or it got lost in the Cascade bit bucket, so here I go again - back by popular demand...
OK, so you've done the training rides; you've scoped out the ride and have planned all your rest stops; you know where you're staying the night; you've written your packing list for yourself, your bike bag, and your luggage - but have you thought about the hour or so after the ride is over? What you do once you cross the finish line can make a big difference in how you feel for the rest of the day. So here's a suggested post-ride plan:
Over the finish line? Good job! Now...
- First thing you do is walk your bike to the bus. Buses leave when full. It's not a big deal to immediately load if you arrive during a peak hour (like at 2:30), but it's a much bigger deal if you're coming towards the end of the day. You want your bike at the UW when you get there, and the best way to make sure that you aren't waiting around in the wee hours of the morning for your bike to arrive is to take care of this first.
- Remove water bottle, and empty it. Take it with you.
- Remove any food that you still have that you might want, even on an emergency basis
- Load your bike
- Walk to luggage area.
- Stash your emptied water bottle and any food, your helmet and your socks and shoes.
- Put on your sandals/flipflops.
- Get your shower items (towel, soap, shampoo) and clean clothes.
- Get in line for the shower. Take a nice hot shower and change into your nice clean clothes.
- Return to luggage area. Encapsulate your dirty clothes in a plastic bag. Ditto your wet towel. Stash in your luggage
- Go to a food stand and get real food. A strawberry sundae is just dessert. Get something more substantive: a burrito, gyro, something like that.
- Walk to the beer garden. Get a beer. Eat your food and drink your beer. Regale your cycling companions or newly-met friends with tales of the road.
- Return a final time to the luggage area. Rearrange the contents such that you can take a separate bag on the bus that will contain your water bottle (refill at the cistern in the luggage area), your emergency food, and any entertainment that you have brought with you.
- Board the bus.
If you follow this plan, you are on the bus fed, hydrated, clean, and jolly, with books to read or music to listen to, and extra food and water if necessary. With luck, your bike has already long since left Portland and will be there at the UW for you to pick up.
Note that the suggested plan requires advanced work: to take clean clothes, some extra shoes, shower items (you can rent a towel, and there's usually leftover soap in the shower, but still), plastic bags to hold dirty shorts and wet towels, and a bag for the bus.
Also note that the luggage area is not perfectly secure. They will check tags to make sure that you are carrying out your own bag, but what you do in the luggage area is not heavily monitored. Carry your smart phone, your fancy $300 sunglasses, your wallet, anything of value, with you - even into the shower truck - to avoid theft.
Now, what I think you don't want to do:
- Ride over the finish line, and think, "Thank God that's over"
- Load bike on the truck
- Get on the bus
With 10,000 STP riders, and then the usual summer weekend traffic, it doesn't take much for the traffic on I-5 to snarl. If you just do the three steps above, you'll be on the bus, gritty with sweat and slimy with bike grease. Your stomach will be on empty. It isn't like you want to eat yet another clif bar, but you would, if you had one - but they're left all in your bike bag or in the luggage in the hold of the bus. You will be surrounded by other riders who are fed, hydrated, clean, and jolly - but you will be miserable, potentially for hours. Don't do this. Make a post-ride plan, and follow it. You'll be a happier camper.