Jennifer Hardison (left) and Kelli Bartlett with their bicycle built for two.
A number of Washingtonians annually consider completing the Seattle to Portland bike ride in June. Jennifer Hardison and Kelli Bartlett, local eighth (going into ninth) graders, tackled the event with no second thoughts.
"We had to talk our parents into letting us do it," Bartlett said. The two girls decided in December to conquer the STP on a tandem bike. They held garage sales and babysat to raise money for equipment and an entry fee.
And in June, the best friends finished the 194-mile ride in 17 hours, with rest stops and an overnight campout in Centralia.
"It was good," Hardison said, "but it rained a lot on the second day."
The girls also raised more than $100 in pledges for Children's Hospital.
Hardison has been tandem cycling with her parents since she was in the sixth grade, while Bartlett began just last December. Beginning in January, the girls trained nearly every day on the Burke-Gilman trail or down side roads.
According to Bartlett, tandem cycling is not any more physically strenuous than bicyling, but the teamwork requires a more focused mentality.
"[You're] working together the whole time, you're tired, but you've got to stay in tune with the other person."
Hardison and Bartlett both maintain a 4.0 grade point average and participate in a number of other sports, including soccer, a favorite for both. Now they can add another accomplishment with the completion of their maiden STP voyage.