Saturday, June 1, 2024

Pedalpalooza Kickoff party and ride

I decided I’d skip Coffee Outside this weekend, and go to the Pedalpalooza kickoff party and ride instead.

I enjoyed myself while I was downtown, bumping into friends and ogling the wide variety of bicycles and other human-powered vehicles.

I arrived a little before 3:30 and enjoyed the proceedings, walking around and snapping photos.

By 4:30, there were several thousand people gathered, filling the North Park Blocks while waiting for the start of the ride at 5pm.

At 5pm, the ride kicked off, cruising slowly to NW Broadway, then turning left to cross the Broadway Bridge. I pedaled along slowly, finding myself surrounded by other riders whose bikes passed me, sometimes with less than  half a foot between us. Once upon a time, this would not have fazed me at all and I would have easily held my line without worry.

Today, though, was my first group ride since before the pandemic, before Covid and Long Covid and everything else. And today, I simply could not feel comfortable holding my line with others passing so close. I got dizzy and a little thrown off, and I knew I would have to pull over and get out of the way. My Pedalpalooza Kickoff Ride was over after four blocks. 

I pulled up onto the sidewalk, feeling sad and sorry, and then I watched as several thousand riders in a dense bunch streamed past me. 

I knew I had made the right choice. I was sad, and also philosophical about it. Long Covid, a long hiatus from riding and the passage of time had taken away some of my comfort, stability and confidence. It had also taken away my stamina. I knew immediately that even if I had felt comfortable enough in that huge crowd, I wouldn’t make it over the bridge and up the hill to Laurelhurst Park, some six miles away. It was all just too much for the rider I had become now.

I waited until the last of the throng had passed me, and then I turned and rode towards the nearest MAX stop. I would ride the train up the long hill to Overlook, them hop out and ride the last two miles home.

Riding alone, I felt less wobbly and mostly held my line. I wasn’t trying my head quickly either way to look out for other riders, and I was riding in a bike lane, and that was preferable by far. 

I stopped at Peninsula Park to admire the roses, most of which are in bloom now. It was a good way to end my evening, and I was able to feel gratitude for being able to ride alongside such beauty as this.

Enjoy Bike Summer, and happy riding.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Beth, my dear friend, you rock! I find I don't much enjoy riding in huge groups, elbow to elbow these days either. I understand the sadness, but I am glad you also found joy in the day.