With hundreds of colorful tents and bikes dotting the lawn, thousands of neon-clad people strolling around campus, the delicious aroma of smoked barbeque wafting through the air, and a live band playing classic rock tunes, the Seattle to Portland Midpoint at Centralia College promises to be a truly festive event.
“The Midpoint at Centralia College has grown extremely popular for the two-day riders since 2005. Each year the venue is modified to increase the hospitality shown to the approximately 20,000 riders and the supporters that flock to the campus during the event,” says Steve Ward, vice president of finance and administration.
This will be the 11th year Centralia College has hosted the official midpoint for the popular bicycle race that begins in Seattle and ends in Portland. In a joint effort with the Chamber of Commerce, the college provides riders a perfect location to stop halfway through the ride—offering rest, refreshment, and, for many, overnight accommodations.
“Centralia is the perfect midpoint stop for a large group,” shares John M. Van Dyke, CEO of Interlink Health and a veteran STP rider from Oregon. “Last year, there were 14 riders in our group. Even with this large group, we were easily able to get massages, dinner, showers and breakfast in Centralia. The families like to ride and stay together and the room in the science building enables us to cozy-up and recap the day of riding.”
While there are several local businesses, organizations, and private homes that offer overnight lodging for riders, many choose to stay on-campus. The campus green space is available for tent campers at no charge. For a fee, riders can choose air-conditioned, indoor accommodations for both individuals and groups. Several hundred sleep in classrooms, boardrooms and on the gym floor.
“The last several STPs have been hot, and the air conditioning allowed us to sleep well and rest. I think this will be our fourth year staying in the science building ‘penthouse,’” adds Van Dyke, whose group chose to stay in one of the semi-private rooms.
The campus also offers parking space for RVs.
“We have folks from all over the United States who not only ride through our campus but who spend the night here in our gym, RVs, classrooms or in tents outside,” claims Event Coordinator Candy Lunke, who handles the RV and semi-private room reservations.
The funds raised from these accommodations support the college athletic department.