The—not so—Worst Day of the Year Ride
Valentine’s Day 2010 was officially the Worst Day of the Year—bike ride, that is. With a total of 3,500 cyclists, it was the second largest turnout in the event’s eight-year run. Cyclists and their bikes dressed up for the affair: I saw festive Valentine’s Day costumes, a flock of Flamingos (25 Silverton residents who came up for the ride), a swarm of bright-yellow bees, cupcakes, superheroes, scuba divers and of course, lots of creative rain-weather attire. People came in their finest—Portland style.
The morning clouds looked ominous and as we lined up at the start, light drizzle seemed to indicate impending rain. This apparently, was just a fake-out. The “worst day of the year” was actually sunny and mid 50s. Reports said there was mild weather last year as well, proving (as Oregonians know so well) that northwest weather is truly unpredictable.
Back to the race: Fueled by a bear claw (free doughnuts for all riders!) we were off on the 18-mile course that looped from the Lucky Lab on SE Hawthorne, down the Eastbank Esplanade and across the Steel Bridge, around the Pearl District to REI, the first rest stop/hot chocolate station. The course continued across the Broadway Bridge and north to the second stop at the Community Cycling Center on Alberta (cookies and water here). We rode east to the Alameda Ridge and then zigzagged west and south, through charming tree-lined streets, until we landed back at The Lucky Lab, where we dined on a hot meal from Laughing Planet Café. Perfection.
All in all it was a fantastic experience; a leisurely ride through Portland’s scenic neighborhoods with yummy local food and awesome bicyclist camaraderie.
Though I can’t brag to my friends about biking in the elements, I can say that I’m excited about biking in this city. Admittedly, I’m a fair-weather biker and will MAX, Tri-Met or even drive in winter weather. But with sunny months in our near future (hey, a girl can dream) I plan to join the ranks of the roughly 20,000 bike commuters in Portland. I know there’s lots of controversy on biker versus driver safety in this city but coming from two-wheel commuting in San Francisco, where roads are narrow, drivers are usually tourists if not angry cabbies and the hills are gigantic, Portland roads are a breath of fresh air. I can’t wait to get back on my bike and why not, with wide, bright green bike lanes, conscientious drivers (from what I’ve experienced), lots of alternate pathways and a omnipresent biking community, this city makes the transition from four wheels to two easy.
I also plan on signing up for “Worst Day of the Year Ride” 2011. If the weather from the last two years is any indication, I’ll be wearing short sleeves.