Ben Marra is an accomplished photographer, avid cyclist and 30-time finisher of the Seattle to Portland bicycle event.
BikePT: Have you ridden all editions of STP, since the first one (when it was a time trial)?
Ben Marra: I have done 30 rides – all 2 day rides. Do not know about the facts on the time trial on the first one. I am the oldest person to ever ride 30 STP’s. Jerry Baker, who CLAIMS to have ridden them all….actually means he started them all. Finishing is what counts. He did not finish one when it was raining very hard one year. He stopped at Puyallup; Hence Seattle to Puyallup = STP. Google him and you will find an article in the PI or Times where he is quoted saying that. Besides, he is younger by several months than me.
BPT: Do I sense something of a rivalry there? From my research, Jerry Baker helped plan the very first Seattle to Portland. It was a time trial (race) then, and Mr. Baker won it. After that, Cascade Bicycle Club (which apparently he also helped found) changed it to a ride instead of a race. Have you two ever ridden together? Or even met? I wonder, given both of your histories with the ride, if you might have some things in common?
BM: No rivalry. Never met him. Probably only thing in common was STP/biking.
BPT: What other cycling events have you taken part in?
BM: RSVP, CHILLY HILLY, McClinchy Mile, other nameless ones I cannot think of.
BPT: RSVP has become very popular.
BM: RSVP when I did it, we came back from Victoria on the Princess Marguerite. GREAT party on the ferry. I am sure the ride is more crowded now… so my experience is old. 89-90-91, in there.
BPT: What are the three biggest ways STP has evolved over the years?
BM: More people, more coordination with local pass-through towns, better food.
BPT: Have any of your STP rides been difficult? If so, can you describe the challenges?
BM: Most are difficult. Rain, wind, cold weather, accidents with RR tracks, too many people, too many fat people in Lycra outfits.
BPT: I just read that you do STP in two days. How is the ride is more enjoyable over two days? Or is there some other aspect that makes riding it in two days more appealing?
BM: Are you kidding me? In two days, you can enjoy a nice meal at the end of the day in Centralia, rest, swimming, yada yada. One day riders can only see the butts of the people in front of them. Not a fun deal for me.
BPT: Have you sustained any cycling-related injuries over the years? And how did you get over them?
BM: Broken Finger, broken thumb. Numerous scrapes, knee injuries…
BPT: Did you undertake any kind of treatments for your injuries? Any magic cures?
BM: Meditation, yoga, acupuncture… Good for what ails you.
BPT: How many days per year do you ride your bike?
BM: I ride about 1,800 miles a year.
BPT: What is your favorite food during STP?
BM: Peanut butter sandwiches, if they are not made a week prior to the ride day, made with Dave’s Killer Bread!
BPT: I’ve heard baked potatoes used to be popular on STP. Is that true?
BM: Potatoes were great. Small ones. Cooked or steamed… Good!
BPT: If you could impart just one piece of wisdom to bicyclists, what would it be?
BM: Train enough so you can make the ride without injury to yourself and others.
BPT: Thank you for answering our questions, Ben!