So today was the Providence Bridge Pedal, also known as the Portland Bridge Pedal. For those not familiar, it’s essentially a biking tour of every Portland bridge over the Willamette River. Per the website, it’s the second-largest organized recreational ride in the country (second to what, I wonder? Maybe Bike the Drive?). There are slightly different routes for varying levels of
masochism challenge—6-bridge (14 miles), 8-bridge (24 miles) and all ten bridges from St. Johns to Sellwood (36 miles). I dithered a bit – I’ve been a little lazy on the bike this year, haven’t done more than 20 miles in a stretch all year – but I ended up taking the 10-bridge route, and I’m glad I did – it was just challenging enough to make it worthwhile.
- Lots of bikes in Portland – I understand there were something like 15,000 riders today.
- Total time – I started biking at 6:40am, finished around 9:25am. My bike computer tells me that my total biking time (ie, total time in which the front wheel was in motion today) is just over three hours; the balance was getting back and forth from downtown.
- Total distance – apparently my bike computer is off, because although the route was approximately 36 miles, and I had about a mile on the way there and back, it tells me that I’ve only done 34.7 miles total today. The bad news is, I’ll need to adjust this thing, but the good news is, I’ve probably been biking slightly farther than I had thought for the last few months.
- Speed – average speed 12mph, max speed 29.5mph. Again this is probably off somewhat (see above) but is close enough for government work. To be fair the average speed would be higher except that there were a few traffic jams where we all were riding as slow as we possibly could and still maintain balance; some were walking their bikes. On the other hand, there was a really nice level stretch, on the way south from St. Johns along the east side of the river, where I had the wind at my back and was doing about 25mph for 2 or 3 miles.
- Easiest bridge – probably Sellwood. (Maybe because I’m used to it, it’s part of my normal Sunday morning ride. Also it came pretty early in the ride.)
- Hardest bridge – St. Johns. Ouch. (Didn’t help that we hit St. Johns close to the 30 mile mark either.)
- Coolest bike – some dude strapped half a dozen makeshift bongo drums and maracas to his bike, along with little mallets on springs to hit the bongos, and was doing sort of a little organic percussion thing as he rode.
- Biggest asshole – some French guy who kept bitching at his kids when they fell behind. Don’t be le cul, Pierre, they’re just kids, okay? Merde.
- Special props to – those guys riding unicycles. Very cool, but I’m sure a lot of work, especially considering those are fixed gears – no coasting, no shifting. I don’t know far you guys rode, but my helmet’s off to you.
- Personal goal – I promised myself that I would stop when necessary but that I would not walk the bike up any hills during the ride, and I am glad to say that I succeeded in that. It was a near thing at St. Johns – the ramp up to the bridge came somewhere between my second and third wind, and we had to take it in a headwind no less. It was a near thing but I made it, and the ride down the other side was glorious. The only times I ended up walking were in the handful of spots (mostly rest stops) where it was just too congested to ride safely.
- Most ironic moment – I finish a 36-mile ride, walk around a bit, have a sitdown and a drink, poke around the booths near the finish line, and finally get back on the bike to head home – and then, half a mile up Taylor, a muscle cramps up on me. Ouch. I’m glad it didn’t happen during the ride at least. Had a seat by the library and worked it out, but it’s still a bit sore, as demonstrated by the image below. Note: not all features are drawn to scale.
- Random factoid – it seems that my bike computer can sense something magnetic in my Powerbook case, because if I get it too close, it registers as if I’m moving. (For the record, the 12” Powerbook G4 does 44.4 miles per hour, and it accelerates like a bat out of hell. Doesn’t corner particularly well though.)
So. All things considered it was an excellent ride, I’ll certainly do it again next year. I took a couple of (crummy) pictures with the cell phone cam, and there are a couple of official ride photos that I should get later today or tomorrow; I’ll post those soon.