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Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Will there ever be a Sunday when everyone get to drive on the sidewalks?
Every year on the second Sunday morning in August the city and Providence Medical Center join forces to shut down Portland's bridges in order to turn them over to bicycle traffic. Woe be it the traveler that wakes up late for a flight. I'm sure every year at least a few of them frantically blast up I-5 only to find their path to the Marquam Bridge blocked by thousands of bicyclists gleefully pedaling along the freeway.
The annual Providence Bridgepedal basically brings auto traffic in the middle of Portland to a grinding halt. Nevertheless, it's a blast if you've got a bike and nothing better to do but sleep. This was the second year I've participated and also the second year where I've had to jump off an old mountain bike and push it up the incline on the Fremont Bridge while my younger sister barrels up it no time flat.
We made the mistake of signing up for the six bridge "family ride." My dreams of blasting down the interstate on two wheels were quickly dashed by thousands of 7 year-olds weaving across lanes and the frantic arm-waving of volunteers determined to get me to slow down.
I can only assume that the more hardcore eight and eleven bridge rides earlier in the morning better accommodate would-be speed demons. Safety first, people. A quick mistake can quickly lead to mayhem out there. As I was coming down off the Fremont, a small pirate flag flew off a lady's baby carriage. She quickly pulled over, forcing another rider to slam on his brakes as someone else plowed into him. So this is why participants are forced to wear bike helmets.
While the organizers fixed the snafu that caused a huge bottleneck near the Ross Island Bridge in 2007, two train delays bogged things down. One delay in Old Town, a mere few blocks from the end of the ride, seemed to drag on forever. And the train was from Canada. Why are Canadians sending their trains through our city on Sunday mornings? Bah, humbug!
Waiting just past the finish line were volunteers from the Sunshine Dairy who frantically tossed out cartons of free chocolate milk to riders. Because there's nothing more refreshing after a 14+ mile bike ride than 2% moo juice. It's a weird place for a dairy to hand out free samples but no one was complaining.