Mark joined 8,000 participants in the 40th anniversary STP, the Pacific Northwest’s largest annual ride.
“I was a little nervous the week before the ride, especially about the start,” Mark recalls.
Nerves didn’t stop Mark from making the trip from Walla Walla to Seattle, getting up at 3:30 a.m. on the first day for breakfast from his biggest supporter.
“My wife, Georgie, packed me my favorite homemade granola, almond milk, and peanut butter.”
By 5:15 a.m., Mark took off from the start line with a goal of keeping a pace of 14 miles per hour.
“There were a lot of rolling hills, but I stayed true to the pace that I wanted to keep. Making it to the halfway point in Centralia felt like a big deal.”
Mark rode more than 100 miles on the first day and credits his good training habits with his success on the road.
“I made sure I ate something every hour, aiming for 40 grams of carbs for the fuel to keep my body going. I was diligent about drinking water, which was a huge part of being able to do the whole thing.”
Riding 2 centuries, or 100-mile rides, on back-to-back days takes a lot of energy. It’s important to be well-fed and hydrated.
Experts recommend eating small amounts of food often to aid digestion
“Carbs maintain blood sugar and help with muscle recovery after exercise,” says Laura Fralich, MD, a sports medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente Veradale Medical Center.
Dr. Fralich also recommends pre-hydrating 2 hours before a long ride by drinking 14 to 20 ounces of water and drinking 20 ounces of fluid every hour while riding.
With the right training and fuel for his body, Mark crossed the finish line and was met by his own crowd of family supporters.
“This is a huge personal accomplishment for me, both physically and mentally,” he says. “I reflected all the way back to registering in January, the training that I did on my roller and outside, all of the people I met, and support I had from my family and friends, along with the right tools through Kaiser Permanente.”
What’s next for Mark?
More bicycling. Mark plans to ride in a cancer fundraiser for a local hospital in September in honor of his brother.
“I thought of my family throughout the entire ride. They were all with me. I had a photo of my family in my bag, along with mementos from my mom and dad. Every hill, every tough spot, it was like they were there with me.”
Mark’s top bicycle tips
Mark offers a few tips for training for a ride or taking your bike out for the summer:
- Start small. If you’re new to the road, look for local trails and bike paths to get started.
- Build up your miles. If you’re planning a ride like STP, start your training early and plan to have a few long rides before the big event.
- Safety first. Always wear a helmet, follow all traffic laws and signals, and make sure your bike is tuned up.
- Fuel your body. Eat foods that help keep you going, and drink lots of water.
Are you ready to make a healthy lifestyle change? Talk to your primary care doctor about your health goals. Kaiser Permanente Washington offers current members programs and resources to help you on your journey.
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