Posts Tagged With: Seattle

“YAY! You’re Halfway There!” The STP Bicycle Classic Stops in Centralia

Welcome to Centralia, Halfway Point for the STP!

Welcome to Centralia, Halfway Point for the STP!

Every year during the second weekend in July is the annual STP (Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic). Ten thousand riders start their trip in Seattle on Saturday morning. Some ride clear to Portland in one day, but most stop about halfway and finish the trip on Sunday.

Welcome to Centralia College, STP Riders!

Welcome to Centralia College, STP Riders!

Centralia is the halfway point. During this weekend the population and number of bicycles on the road explodes. For years I have always avoided leaving the house on this weekend in order to avoid the chaos, because years ago when I went to town it was very real chaos. It was stressful to drive through town and worry about grazing a rider.

STP Riders in Centralia

STP Riders in Centralia

But this year I decided to check it out. I went to Centralia College (where David and I work) about 10:30, not expecting much to be happening yet. Boy, was I wrong! Riders were coming in steadily and had been for a couple of hours. The college puts a lot of effort into welcoming the riders and providing all sorts of resources for them, encouraging them to camp on the grounds, eat, get a massage, and enjoy the beer garden. It has the energy and atmosphere of a fair!

STP One-Day Riders in Centralia

STP One-Day Riders in Centralia

Starting on the east end of campus was a blow-up arch, welcoming riders coming onto campus with people cheering them on and congratulating them on making it half way. As they proceed west down the “Aadland Esplanade” more people are cheering them, directing them to service, water, food, and handing out ice cream.

Riders weren't the only ones enjoying the ice cream being handed out

Riders weren’t the only ones enjoying the ice cream being handed out

There is a designated area for riders completing in one day. Food and port-a-potties are available for them. The rest of the site has vendors such as REI, bicycle parts folks, water and repair stations. There is a bicycle corral for riders to store their bikes in safety. This corral is overseen by the Centralia Police reserves.

Bike Corral at STP

Bike Corral at STP

The beer garden opened at 11:00 but I didn’t see anyone using it at that time. I assumed it would be much busier later in the evening. (Yes, it was – they apparently went through 20 kegs!)

Centralia College looks like a campground during STP

Centralia College looks like a campground during STP

One special booth that I had to visit was a dedication to a co-worker and friend, Jeanette Speigelberg,. She was the manager of the Children’s Lab School (day care) on campus. In June of this year, she passed away unexpectedly while training for the STP. Her friends and staff wanted to honor her by having a booth at the event. The college earns money for scholarships by hosting riders on campus, and Jeanette’s friends have started a scholarship in her name.

Tribute to Jeanette Spiegelberg

Tribute to Jeanette Spiegelberg

As I left campus, I intended to skirt the main roads in order to avoid the chaos I remembered from years ago. However, much has changed and I was very impressed! The road heading over the viaduct and leading south of town towards Chehalis is a two-lane one-way street. Orange cones blocked off the entire right-hand lane almost all the way into Chehalis. Instead of getting away from the riders, I decided to follow along in the other lane, knowing I wouldn’t have to worry about driving close to the riders. I finally turned off to head home, while the riders continued on south.

All ages and abilities can do the STP

All ages and abilities can do the STP

I see now why everyone gets so excited about the STP. It was the same energy and atmosphere as graduation day. In a sense, I imagine that it is like graduation day for those that have trained for so many months to prepare for this day – and they made it!

Little girl sprays STP riders to cool them off

Little girl sprays STP riders to cool them off

If you would like to be involved in the STP but don’t want to actually ride it, come on down to Centralia College next July and show your support by cheering on and welcoming the riders! Everyone really can be involved!

Spectators Needed! Enjoy the STP!

Spectators Needed! Enjoy the STP!

My friend and fellow Centralia College employee, Brenda, was in charge of making sure the Port-a-Potties stay clean and emptied. An important job with so many!

My friend and fellow Centralia College employee, Brenda, was in charge of making sure the Port-a-Potties stay clean and emptied. An important job with so many!

 

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Categories: Bicycle Trail, Outdoors, People, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Santa, Santa, Everywhere! Santarchy 2013!

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Wall to Wall Santas

Santa in a regular Santa suit. Santa in a “suggestive” Santa suit. Santa playing video games. Reindeer, elves, presents, lots of red and green. Wall to wall. What was it? Seattle Santarchy 2013!

Every year we head up to Seattle on the weekend before Christmas. We have finished all of our shopping and go just to go downtown and “get into the thick of it” as David says. The last couple of years we have noticed a lot of people in Santa suits running all over the place. This year we took the opportunity to stop and talk to some of these very friendly people to find out what they were doing. It turns out that they are also there that same weekend every year for the now annual “Santarchy” also known as “Santacon” in other cities. It’s basically a big pub crawl in costume.

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Santa Sue and Buddy the Elf

They all start by meeting at noon in Pioneer Square where they receive a map and a schedule. It tells them that they should tentatively end up on Capitol Hill around midnight and just continue to party in that area.

Along the way they stop for a group picture at the Harbor Steps, have a Santa Fashion Show, and do caroling in Westlake Park around 6pm. They hit up several restaurants and bars all along the way. We ran into them at Gameworks where we stopped for dinner and to let Josh play some games. Everyone we met was surprisingly not very drunk.

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Santa and his reindeer games – at Gameworks

The schedule lists some common sense, basic manners and rules for the Santas to follow: Don’t mess with children, the police, bar or store security or “working” Santas. And of course, don’t drink and drive.

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Suave Santa

Granted where there is a lot of drinking and people, you might want to limit children’s exposure to some of it. Some of the costumes were pretty wild and there will always be someone who goes overboard and gets in trouble. But overall we found it to be just a fun event that we enjoyed without even having to participate. Everyone we talked to was friendly, willing to let us take their pictures, and answer our questions.

This gentleman said he has attended other Santacons where there were a lot more Santas and they were a lot more drunk. He told us about an event in Reno with 5000 Santas under the Reno arch and most were very inebriated.

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Nancy and God’s Gift to Women (aka Eddie Larison)

I have to say this costume was my favorite – God’s Gift to Women. He really was quite charming. And ladies, in case you’re wondering…God’s Gift to Women works at Microsoft!

There are websites set up for the event so you can find out more about it and maybe bookmark them so you can attend next year. One is http://santacon.info/Seattle-WA/ and of course there’s a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1413448102205619/.

Categories: Festivals, Food, Wine, Cider, Keatons Out and About, People, Washington | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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