Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Aaron Crushes the 2011 Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic

On Saturday afternoon, I cheered like crazy as I watched Aaron ride through the finish chute of the 204-mile Seattle to Portland (STP) bike ride.

He arrived 12 hours after starting, averaging 19 miles per hour on the bike (with a few stops along the way).

Cyclists travel from all over the country to ride STP, and it can be done in one or two days. It's a tremendous achievement for anyone to complete it in one day, but especially so if you happened to look like this not too long ago:

You can read all about Aaron's motorcycle accident, injuries and recovery in this post.

In it, I wrote:
"I'll never know what it was like for you to wonder if you'd be able to walk, run or ride again. I only know that now, you're seizing every opportunity you have to push yourself, physical obstacles be damned, because you can."
And that has never more true than it was last Saturday.

STP sells out quickly, and registration closed months ago. But it opened again very briefly just a few weeks ago, as some riders dropped out and left open slots.

So just a few weeks ago, Aaron swooped in and signed up. He cycles often, but most people seriously train for this event all year long.

Aaron has never been most people.

"It would be so easy for you to sit at home, be inactive and blame it on that terrible accident, but you don't. You know that life is too short and too precious to give it anything less than your all."

I watched him ride away from Seattle at 4:45 a.m. His goal was — well, no goal, really. Just to finish it in one day. Just to finish it in one piece.

Did I mention that he broke his hand while playing softball last week?

OK, so maybe the goal was to finish in two pieces.

As I packed up and headed to the train station, my mind ran through all the worst-case scenarios. His bad knee could give out and he'd crash into a ditch somewhere. His bad hand could get worse and he'd crash into a ditch somewhere. Anything could happen and it would result in him lying in a ditch!

Then I got a text message at 10:20 a.m.: "Halfway!"


Aaron flew on that bike and exceeded all expectations, including his own. As I rode the train down to Portland, I continued receiving messages.

At 1:10 p.m.: "145 miles."

3:06 p.m.: "Last stop — 170 miles."

I was still on the train at this point — the train that was supposed to arrive in Portland at 2:30 — and Aaron stood a serious chance of beating me to the finish line!

I finally made it to the finish-line festival at Holladay Park around 4:30, and look who showed up at 4:45.

I cheered like crazy. Then I burst into tears.

I could not run fast enough to grab this sweaty, salt-stained and dirty-as-hell man into a big, tearful hug.

I really thought I couldn't be more proud of Aaron than I was when I wrote that post about everything he'd accomplished since his motorcycle accident.

But then there was a fleeting opportunity. A fearless leap of faith. A starting line cloaked in the morning darkness. A finish line hundreds of miles away.

And the ride of a lifetime in between.


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  1. Devon, this is a great post! Thank you so much for sharing. And way to go, Aaron!!! What an achievement - doing the STP in one day is a serious feat, doing it at last minute with a broken hand, I can't even imagine!

  2. Thanks, Perl! Yes, I'm so, so proud of him. And good job getting as far as you did, too! That's awesome!!


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