SPORTS: Peninsula riders finish Seattle to Portland bicycle trek

PORT ANGELES — Ashley Hankins has a long list of outdoor accomplishments.

She hiked 18,000 feet to a Mount Everest base camp; traveled from Ireland to Victoria in a three-masted sailing ship; kayaked and hiked 100-plus miles through Chile and Argentina.

She added another to the catalog Sunday when she completed the 202-mile Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (STP) along with her friend, Sara Gleckl of Port Angeles.

“It definitely tested my endurance and my strength a lot more than anything I’ve every done,” Hankins said.

“It gives us a lot more respect for riders in the Tour de France.”

Hankins, 29, and Gleckl, 29, were two of 10,000 riders who participated in the 31st annual ride, which took participants from Seattle to northeast Portland, according to Cascade Bicycle Club, the Seattle-based organizer of the ride.

A longtime cyclist, Gleckl wanted to complete the trek after hearing about it from her supervisor at Olympic Veterinary Clinic in Port Angeles.

It wasn’t until she a found training partner in Hankins while working out at the Clallam County Family YMCA in Port Angeles that she decided to go for it.

The two began training four months in advance — “not long enough,” Hankins said — by pedaling up Hurricane Ridge and going on 50-mile rides when time allowed.

(Hankins carries two full-time jobs, and Gleckl has one while taking a full course load at Peninsula College.)

Of course, none of that was quite like the 202 miles, 2,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain and 15 hours of ride time the two encountered last weekend.

“It actually wasn’t as tough as I expected,” Gleckl said.

“As far as the endurance and the difficulty, it wasn’t bad.

“It’s just being on a little tiny seat for 15 hours [that takes its toll].”

Like most of the participants, Hankins and Gleckl broke up the ride into two days.

They rode approximately 100 miles from Seattle to Centralia on Saturday, then took down the final 102 miles to Portland on Sunday.

There were rest stops situated every 25 miles, and the two kept themselves going by snacking on energy bars and bananas and taking down water and electrolyte tablets to stay hydrated.

“It was intense,” said Hankins, who was also organized the High “Heal” Run benefitting Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles last November.

“The second day was probably the most challenging because you’re already sore from the day before.

“There’s a lot more hills, and it’s just a lot more challenging because there’s so much pain.”

Making matters worse for Hankins, her vintage Fuji 12-speed began to break down midway through Sunday’s finale.

That forced her to finish off the last 40 miles using only one gear to pedal into a strong headwind.

“It was my dad’s old bike,” Hankins said.

“I thought, ‘I can do this. I can ride this bike.’

“I hadn’t had a lot of long distance bike riding put into it, so I didn’t know how important it was to have a nice bike.”

Gleckl had her own troubles as well.

Midway through the first day, one of her knee caps slipped out of place.

On Sunday, she had troubles with her bike chain, which wouldn’t have been too much of a problem except for the fact that she’d never had to fix one before.

“The toughest part was probably after my knee popped out of joint,” said Gleckl.

“I kind of screamed out and just kind of coasted for a minute.

“I thought, ‘Well, I’m in the middle of Puyallup, and I don’t have a ride, so I’m just going to keep going.'”

Gleckl’s efforts helped raise $450 for the Seattle Children’s Hospital.

She vowed to raise even more money next year . . . when the two plan to do the ride in one day.

“This is just the beginning,” Gleckl said.

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