Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Providence 9 3 Bridge Pedal

Rather than battling to get through the horde of 18,000 other participating cyclists and meet Ben and Leah and Jake at the start of the Providence Bridge Pedal course across the Hawthorne Bridge, I met them at the east end of the new Tilikum Crossing, which you can see in the background behind me. According to TriMet, the local transit system, it's the only bridge of its kind in the United States, being solely dedicated to non-car methods of transportation: pedestrians and cyclists will use the outer lanes, and the bus and rail and streetcar network will span the two sides of the Willamette River down the middle of the bridge. Over to the west bank we went, then turned around and headed back across to the east side. After that, we went south to the Ross Island bridge and up and over again, then curved up to the PSU campus area at the edge of downtown and did what bicyclists normally cannot do, which is to take the on ramp to I-405/I-5 - normally three lanes of wall-to-wall commuters - and go across the Marquam Bridge. There's a great view of Portland from up on top.

There was also a local marimba band serenading the cyclists, many of whom pulled out of the river of bicycles to take photos off either side of the bridge. "Hi, we're Boka Marimba," announced one of the musicians at the end of the tune I'd stopped to listen to, "and we play here every Sunday." Most people were taking pictures with their phones, though I did see someone with a "real" camera and a tripod, and one man had hauled his paints and easel along to capture the moment.

Ben and Jake and Leah had stopped to wait for me, as they had done several times already. I was okay on the flat sections, but the slopes were starting to get to my legs, unused to such exercise. Since I didn't want to overdo it and suffer the aftereffects (as I did last year on that petite randonnée très facile dans les Pyrénées qu'un enfant de six ans avait accompli en quatre heures) I told them to head out without me for the rest of the trip, as I was going home.

I'm glad I did the shorter route, because I could tell that my thigh muscles were going to have some pointed things to say to me about the wisdom of trying to even attempt a 25-mile bike ride after not having gotten on a bike in over three years. The two hours it took me to ride down to the river, go back and forth over the three bridges, and ride back again were enough for now. I'll have to get a new bike though, once I start working full time again. There are some really lovely biking paths around here, and it's a nice way to get downtown when the weather is good - though I won't be getting there via the Marquam Bridge.
Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. It makes her feel as if she were independent. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can't get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood.
         - Susan B. Anthony (1896)

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