TENINO – The chance to ride in the 32nd annual Seattle-to-Portland Bicycle Classic almost didn’t happen for Kristi Lyons of Olympia.
But when a friend dropped out of the sold-out event two months ago, Lyons quickly jumped at the opportunity to ride her first STP.
“I said to him, ‘Can I have your (rider’s) number?’ ” said Lyons, 28.
Since then, she has been training with 20- to 40-mile rides in preparation for the start of Saturday’s 202.8-mile ride from Seattle’s Husky Stadium to Portland’s Holladay Park.
Five years ago, Lyons moved to Olympia from Ohio. It wasn’t long after she settled in that Lyons ditched her car and started using her bike as her primary source of transportation. She had heard about the STP, and she made it a goal to ride in it before she moved out of the area.
“This was the year to do it,” Lyons said. “I’m really surprised I made it (to Tenino), I’ve gotten really far. I’m definitely going to do it next year, and I’m going to try to do it in one day.”
More than 10,000 riders took part in the STP, which began in the early hours Saturday and continues to Portland today. Tenino’s City Park was one of two stops in Thurston County where riders could get refreshments, make bike repairs and rehydrate before the halfway point in Centralia.
Roughly 3,000 riders attempted to complete the event in one day, with the remainder hoping to finish today.
The cyclists ranged in experience from many first-time riders to ones who had a double-digit number of STPs under their belts. And there was a ride range of wheels – bikes, trikes, and boards.
Longboard skateboards were the wheels of choice for Casey Duszynski, 19, and Kyle Swayze, 20, both of Milton. They were thought to be the only STP riders on skateboards – they got the idea last year, and drove the course to make sure it was feasible.
Duszynski and Swayze, who have been training since February, ride their skateboards anywhere from three to four hours a day. They were an easy pair to spot, sporting florescent orange safety vests worn as capes along with their backpacks.
“It’s beating us up pretty good, but I feel OK,” Duszynski said while stopped just north of Centralia.
“The roads are killing our pushing efficiency 60 percent,” Swayze said.
But for Kenny Gattis of Vancouver, Wash., how he ended up riding in his first STP was different than most: He lost a friendly wager with friends a few weeks ago.
“I am not a smart man,” said Gattis, 23, who said he hadn’t “touched a bike in a year.”
Gattis, decked out in red cargo shorts and a blue tank-top, rolled through Tenino shortly after noon on his mountain bike and had already suffered some bad luck with two flat tires in a three-hour span.
He said his friends waited for him in Centralia, ready to pitch his camping tent to spend the night before continuing on to Portland today.
“They’ll be there awhile,” Gattis said. “The way I’m going, I won’t be there until dusk, or maybe (today), or possibly next week.”
Seattle’s Erik Kapinos and his 9-year-old son, Ian, rode their tandem bike for the second straight year, with this being Ian’s second STP and his father’s third. The pair rode to Centralia, and plan to continue to Portland this morning.
They plan eventually to make it more of a family affair by including Ian’s 6-year-old sister.
Ian listed many positives in riding a tandem bike with his dad.
“It doesn’t mater if you’re mad or sad,” Ian said, “it makes you feel free.”
Other tandem riders included Mike Rinkel and Nancy Lane of Tacoma, riding in their seventh STP together on their tandem bike. It was Rinkel’s 12th STP overall, and the 11th for Lane. The pair planned to stop in Kelso late Saturday before continuing to Portland today.
“That’s far enough,” Rinkel said.
“Our one-day days are over,” Lane added.
Olympian photographer Tony Overman contributed to this story.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473