Portland Oregon goes by many a nickname. One of them is Bridge City. Portland has 12 bridges that span the Willamette River. Each with their own unique design and purpose.
I have lived by the Broadway Bridge since I moved here in 2011. Once over this bridge, you will continue to be on Broadway street which runs through the heart of downtown to the south part of the city.
The first year I arrived my co-worker’s husband told me about a fun annual event in town. Once a year they close the bridges and only allow bikes to utilize them. Normally cars dominate (there are tiny bike lanes ) . Once closed, the entire space is available to bike riders. There is an option to walk however that only includes one bridge – the Marquam Bridge. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still cool. The Marquam Bridge gives you the best view of the city. Calling it a bridge is a bit deceiving. Its more like a highway ramp/ overpass. That’s how you get the good view 🙂
The event is called Providence Bridge Pedal and I am definitely going to check it out. Portland is such a cool city!
Research showed I was late to the game. I didn’t have time to register and pay. I didn’t have time to get any gear. I barely had time to think of what I would need. I haven’t done anything like this is so long. It has to be at least 15 maybe 20 years since I have been on a bicycle. Ooops
I called some bike stores around town and found a place downtown on the west side that had a single speed bike left (with a basket). I will take it 🙂
I found the route online, determined I could sneak in behind a business that was just a few blocks away from where my full time job was. Only because I knew a bit about the area that I figured it would be a less risky spot to slip in. This way if I needed to exit quickly, I would be somewhat familiar with my surroundings. It doesn’t feel good to cheat. Being poor sucks. Being unprepared sucks. I vow to pay next year ( and do ).
I didn’t blend in at all. I didn’t have proper biking riding attire. I had some random snacks and a water in the basket of the bike. I was the only person as far as the eye could see that was not wearing a helmet. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of people who participate in the event. It bears repeating. I was the ONLY person without a bike helmet. As I moved along with the crowd, no one spoke to me.
As I rode along, having a great time, there was a moment it occurred to me were getting further and further from the city. The road I was on started to have a lot of space between the random businesses. Mind you, I have only been living here for a few months and I have no idea where things are. All I know is that I was riding my bike down the side of a long road so far that I started to have dreams of calling a taxi. After a few minutes , serious cyclists started to pass me. They had proper gear and signs on their backs with the number 10. I had plenty of time to think about what that could mean. Suddenly I remembered some information I had glimpsed at since I didn’t technically pay to register. There are options for the event. You can walk, or ride over 3 bridges, 5 bridges or 10 bridges. The 10 bridge option is about 25 miles long.
What the heck have I gotten myself into?!?!?! Here is just another example of how Cheaters Never Prosper. I had no choice but to continue. I was tired and the taxi dreams were getting stronger.
Turns out we were headed to the St. Johns Bridge. The furthest bridge North. Fun fact: it is the only suspension bridge out of the bunch. They had closed the on ramp for the bridge which made it convenient to access. At some point, I got off my bike to walk up the on ramp. It was a steep incline okay, I was tired and soar already. I had a fixed speed bike. I didn’t even know what that meant before I had this adventure LOL
Then another shameful thing happened. I saw a man peddling fast going up the ramp, passing me by with not one, not two but three individual kid pod carriers behind him. Whoa, new goal. I had come so far, I was so unprepared, I was so tired that it wasn’t motivating enough to get back on the bike. I did stand there in awe of his moment. I silently gave him praise and wished that I was in better shape. The moment has stayed with me 7 years later.
I got back on the bike at the top of the ramp, rode over the bridge, headed back down towards where I started and couldn’t have been happier to be heading back. The ride back was fantastic. They closed part of the Highway 405 which is a major thorough fare. The event starts at 5:00 a.m. because they want to start opening back up the bridges at 11:00 a.m. You can imagine the delays in traffic this event causes once a year. It’s a big deal and I really wanted to do it. I was doing it. Even if it meant sneaking in with my rented fix speed bike.
I started at 8:00 a.m.. It took me 3 1/2 hours to finish from where I snuck in ( rental due back by noon). I ended up riding over 6 of the bridges. In no particular order (corresponding pictures ) the Marquam Bridge, the Broadway Bridge, the Steel Bridge, the St. Johns Bridge and the Freemont Bridge, and the Burnside Bridge.
I never want to ride my bike to the St. Johns Bridge ever again. Kuddos to you if you do. I would however do the Family ride which includes 6 bridges and the 405n Highway. Be safe out there! Bridge Pedal