STP: Passion for pedaling

  • BY Wire Service
  • Thursday, July 9, 2009 5:28pm
  • Sports
Longtime friends Gil Morey

Longtime friends Gil Morey

It began as a fun idea and a means of getting into better shape.

More than two decades later, the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic has become much more for longtime friends Tony DeLorenzo of Kent and Auburn’s Gil Morey.

The annual trek from the Emerald City to the Rose City, a ride that spans 200 miles, has become a summer highlight for the pair, one that’s now as much about camaraderie and friendship as it is about a passion for pedaling.

“The very first time, we read about it and thought it would be fun to do,” said DeLorenzo, 51. “Basically, we trained a few weeks and did it.

“It was the hardest thing I had ever done.”

The Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic will run for the 30th consecutive year beginning at 4:45 a.m. on Saturday at the University of Washington. Cyclists will be sent out in 10-minute waves exiting south onto Montlake Boulevard. One-day riders will arrive in Portland on Saturday night, while two-day riders will spend the night at the midway point of Centralia College and complete the event on Sunday afternoon.

DeLorenzo and Morey will be riding in the event for the 23rd straight year, an honor that puts them in a rather select group. Only 18 other riders have taken part in the event longer than the Kent and Auburn natives.

The first ride, however, remains a special one to both of them.

“We were looking for a goal to get in shape and we thought, ‘Hey, let’s ride our bikes to Portland,’” said Morey, 51. “We thought if we did, that would be a good goal. We didn’t even know about the STP then. We checked it out and thought it was great.”

The challenging road ahead, however, remained a mystery.

DeLorenzo entered that ride in 1987 without ever having logged more than 50 consecutive miles on his bike at one time. A self-proclaimed gym rat, he showed up for that first ride in basketball shoes and a sheepskin seat cover.

“I was in my 20s and thought I was in wonderful shape,” deadpanned DeLorenzo. “We thought it would be simple.”

It was — on the first day.

But on the second day, the challenge stiffened as a steady rain blanketed southern Washington. Being inexperienced riders as they were, neither DeLorenzo or Morey were prepared for the wet weather.

“The next day, we had 110 miles to go, and it was windy and pouring rain,” Morey recalled. “It was miserable.”

Now, more than 20 years later — each of them now on their fourth bicycles — DeLorenzo and Morey are considerably more prepared.

“We’ve had rain in other years since, but have become more bike savvy,” said DeLorenzo, adding that he has trained by riding three times a week, doing two 40-mile trips and another 100-mile ride per week.

Although they previously have accomplished the feat in one day, DeLorenzo and Morey will go at a steady pace and use both days to finish the 200-mile trek this time.

Having reached their 23rd year, using the race as a means to get in better shape has blossomed into a goal.

“Now that we’ve done so many, we can’t stop,” said Morey, who along with DeLorenzo, remains seven STP rides behind leaders Jerry Baker and Paul Wantzelius. “Now, we want to do it more times than anybody.”


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