I gave myself an incentive for getting to the Bridge Stride. When I registered Saturday, I passed up the chance to buy the 2006 Bridge Pedal/Bridge Stride T-shirt then because I didn’t yet know for sure if I’d be up for a five-mile walk after a rock show. I’d feel weird getting a commemorative shirt for an event I didn’t attend, so don’t get it until I attend, right? Exactly! And it worked!
In an arrangement I don’t yet understand, the bus that would’ve been best for me to take to the Stride’s starting line, Rt. 70 from Milwaukie to the Rose Quarter Transit Center, runs its first few weekend-morning buses only as far north as Milwaukie and Powell, less than ten blocks north of my place. So, no point, and I took the 17 into downtown instead. The Bridge Pedal, which is the BIG part of this event – last year’s event saw 10,000 bicyclists, yes that’s four zeros – had begun around 6:30 a.m., and riders had reached the Ross Island Bridge. Which was still partially open to traffic; the bus driver had to go at about 25 mph with bikes all around him. Eye-opening. We finally reached Pioneer Courthouse Square, where I boarded a Max train to the Rose Quarter and reached the start line in time. And got my shirt. I already was wearing one, you understand – my Guam Olympic Committee T-shirt for Athens 2004 (which I didn’t attend, but which family members of mine did!) – but I was about to earn my Bridge Pedal/Bridge Stride commemorative T-shirt, damnit.
And then I walked.
Across the upper deck of the Steel Bridge, past Union Station, through the Pearl District, up the ramp to I-405 (closed southbound so that both freeway bridges’ upper decks could accommodate bicyclists and walkers) and onto the Fremont Bridge, my longtime major symbol of Portland, to the extent that it would appear in my dreams when I was living elsewhere. And it’s a treat to be on it without fear of car traffic. The first time I did the Bridge Stride, in August 2001, I had someone take my picture as I stretched myself flat on my back in the middle of a lane, because I could without being suicidally stupid and/or roadkill.
Reaching the rest stop, at the end of the Fremont Bridge-to-Vancouver Ave. off-ramp, I partook of a banana, a bagel and a Port-A-John, in that order. (I already had my own water.) I also became a bit of a barker, yelling to walkers to swing over here to get refreshments. A volunteer nearby let us know that we were past the halfway mark on the walk, and after the refreshment I headed south, deader and deader in the legs but glad to be moving on a gorgeous day. The end was almost anticlimactic: there was no “FINISH” line, so I instead sat down on a curb briefly, then headed back to Rose Quarter Transit Center to head to lunch and home. (I overheard a volunteer say there had been a sign, “but it blew away.”)
Now, sleep. No walking involved there. Thank goodness I don’t sleepwalk.