NAPAVINE, Wash. — You may always drive right by Napavine on your way to Portland, but thousands of cyclists say it is a must-stop during the annual Seattle-to-Portland bike ride.
"They train all year long to come through our town!" says Susan Gonzalez, who is known among cyclists as "The Banana Bread Lady". She's been baking banana bread for riders since 1993 when her husband Gene first rode the S-T-P himself.
"We plan every vacation around being home for this ride," she says. "We've never missed in 26 years."
After three years in a row, Gene quit doing the ride. But Susan did not. The following year she made 30 loaves.
"And Gene said what are you doing? I said I'm baking the banana bread for the S-T-P. He said "I'm not riding anymore" and I said but the riders are still there so I'm going out there."
Now the couple has teamed up. Susan has baked 100 loaves this year. Gene is in charge of filling up 1800 baggies with bread. The cycling community calls banana bread energy bombs. They're full of potassium. They're tasty and, because they're offered at the halfway point of the ride, they come at just the right time.
Jeffrey Roger and his son Julian say they're big fans of the bread, and not just because of the way they taste.
"I think it's the spirit of it, the joy, and the love," Roger says. "It's the sense of graciousness that they have. They're just giving something to the community, expect nothing back, and I think for us that's what's so meaningful."
"I like that it's just a small piece of bread," Susan Gonzalez says. "And it goes so far."
Here's Susan's recipe for banana bread.
STP Banana Bread
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
2 cups mashed banana
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
4 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
Bottom and middle topping:
1 cup finely chopped nuts
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cream butter until light and then gradually add sugar, beating constantly. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in banana, vanilla and sour cream. Sift together flour, baking powder and soda and fold into mixture. Set aside. Mix together topping ingredients. In two well greased bread pans, sprinkle half of the topping mixture between the two pans. Slowly spoon half the batter between the pans over the topping. Sprinkle rest of the topping between the pans then cover with remaining batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes