It’s been two years since I’d last seen my good friend and former colleague, Dramadude. We made a great team back when we both taught and directed high school shows together. I have lots of fond memories from those days. The students were so much fun to teach, and they had so much promise and potential. I miss working with Dramadude, too. He’s crazy smart, has a bit of an edge, is committed to kids, and passionate about things that matter in fine arts education. On top of that, he loves to ride bikes and drink coffee. Just like two years ago, today we met up to ride the Providence Bridge Pedal, the daddy of all event rides.
Imagine 20,000 people (mostly cyclists, some walkers) converging on downtown Portland for a single event. For 364.5 days of the year, motor vehicles get to zoom across bridges that span the Willamette River from Sellwood to St. Johns. For just one morning each year, it’s the cyclists’ turn. In a little over 30 miles of riding we crossed the river ten times on these bridges, never having to contend with cars. Traffic is diverted for the event while the bridges are transformed into wonderlands for cyclists. On a bicycle you learn to appreciate the grand scale of these structures because you’re not zooming along in a car.
On the Fremont Bridge you feel so small because of the large arches that soar over your head. Depending on which direction you’re riding, the stretch just to the west of the bridge is either a fun descent or a hefty climb. You don’t really notice that in a car.
The top deck of the Marquam Bridge is usually not conducive to craning your neck to take in the views. Let me tell you, the views are astounding. We crossed it twice today, and most everybody stopped long enough to really take it in. There were treats and a live band there to add to the festivities while folks paused to snap some pictures. It’s so different than what you experience when you’re driving.
Ernest Hemingway described what was on all our minds as we rode the bridges today:
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.
Riding with an old friend again on these great bridges made the ride all the more special.