Monday, August 10, 2009

Bridge Pedal 2009

Hope you all had a great weekend. On Sunday, I rode my first (& maybe last?) Bridge Pedal.

For those of you who are not familiar with the event, it's an annual event here in which you ride over the numerous bridges that crosses the Willamette River that runs through the center of Portland. Some of those bridges are either totally inaccessible like freeways or have very limited access (with only a narrow sidewalk to ride on), so this event is the once a year opportunity where you can ride freely over all of the bridges without having to worry about car traffic.

Bridge Pedal - riding to the start

It started very early with sign-in from 6:30am an then starting at 7:00am. I'm usually still asleep so early on Sunday morning, so I didn't get quite enough sleep. There were 3 different distances from 14 to 38 miles and I took part in the 11 Bridge 38 mile ride. The starting point was already on the freeway. I rode up to the start and was probably in the first few hundred riders. When I looked back after a bit, it was cyclists as far as I can see. There were some 6000 people doing the ride and 20,000 people all combined for the event. It was by far the biggest cycling event I've ever taken part in.

Bridge Pedal - start!

We started at 7:00am and immediately went up and down on the freeway. It was very strange indeed to be riding on the freeway. The scale of the road is much bigger than what I'm used to and the pavement felt a bit rough in places too. Our side of the freeway was open just for us, but the opposite direction had the usual car traffic. I wonder what the drivers must have thought upon seeing us there. Most people on our ride seemed very athletic oriented and the pace was pretty fast and I was beginning to get passed by others. After we went over the river a few times over different bridges, we crossed the Sellwood Bridge which was the Southern most bridge in this ride and then we made our way up North. It was after we crossed the Hawthorne and Ross Island bridges that something seemed strange like I was riding the same route twice. There were cyclists on the same street but separated in the middle. I rode on the right side already, but this time I was on the left side. I asked a volunteer person about it and he told me that this was the red group (8 bridges ride) route and my group was on the other side. I should have known better than to listen to him, but I went the way that he said and I ended up doing the same loop again and came to the same exact place again.

Bridge Pedal - stopping on the freeway
(taking a break on Fremont Bridge, I-405)

It may have been a blessing in disguise though as people around me by then weren't as gung-ho as the front runners and I seemed to be going faster than most of them. It wasn't my initial intention to ride so fast, but riding in a large group does make you ride faster and it does feel good to be able to pass others. I was happy to find that I'm still faster than average going up hills too. After a few more crossings over the Willamette, there was a long flat stretch to the North and I seem to be uncharacteristically riding faster on the flat than those around me and so I might have ridden harder than I should have. We came to a climb up to the St. Johns Bridge which I didn't expect and I couldn't go up it like I did on the other climbs. I crossed the bridge and then I stopped at the rest stop in St. Johns soon after. I had a banana and an energy bar and it tasted soooo good! From there, I was more or less in survival mode and just managed to get to the finish.

Bridge Pedal - Finish!

I was dead tired and I couldn't believe when I looked at my watch, it was only 10:00am. It seemed a lot longer than just 3 hours. The ride was 38 miles, but with the extra loop and the ride home, I probably did like 45 miles altogether.

Anyway, it was an intense, but a fun ride. Maybe I didn't ride it as smart as I could, but it gave me a good idea of my fitness level and I feel like I can take on some longer rides now. I took some photos here and there, mostly during the first half of the ride. you can check them out in the slide show below or on flickr.

I'm really not a good photographer though and I was mostly preoccupied with riding to take time for good photography. There were plenty of places though that would have been great to take pictures at. You can check out KTesh's Bridge Pedal set on Flickr for more great pictures of the ride.

At the beginning, I wrote this may be my last Bridge Pedal. I just want to clarify that I didn't say that because I do not want to do it again. I would do it again if I'm here still, but I'll most likely to have moved back to Japan by then, so I may not have the chance to do it again. I'm happy to have done it and if I get a chance, I will do it again. Hopefully Kao can do it with me if that happens.

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