Saturday, July 19, 2008

Broadway Bridge

I rode my bicycle across the Broadway Bridge today. I felt so exposed, so shaky, so frail and vulnerable. The river seems so big and the bridge so long from a bicycle. I've not ever been on any of Portland's bridges in anything other than a car.

Almost like a return to watching the bird on the sidewalk earlier this week; that connection to the delicate and tenuous nature of our existence. In a car you might feel a very big gust of wind coming off of the river or a large truck, but on a bicycle I would feel my arms shake and the frame and I would wobble just a little.

Going over the first time I couldn't bring myself to ride on the right hand side, which I should be doing so faster riders are able to pass me on the left. The rail on the right side looked so very low and open, so much so that I have no appreciation for the beautiful metal-work of the rail, only a feeling of anxiety that I could easily be over the rail and plummeting towards the river. That someone died jumping off of the Hawthorne Bridge earlier this week -- just for a lark, he and his friends were all doing it...

Finally I was off the bridge and waiting at the light. I sat through a green light not realizing that the bicycles have their own light! Riding up Broadway, through the hotel zone and the shopping around Pioneer Square, was a bit unnerving. I even put my foot down once and braked when I should have kept going. Cars jockeying for parking, drivers not even bothering to look for bicycles. Then up the hills to the Portland State University campus, which ended finally and we locked up our bikes.

CK said I had a huge grin on my face when we were standing there at the edges of the Farmers Market. I was still breathing heavily from going up the hills. It just feels so hard. I wasn't down in my lowest gear, but I was pretty low and felt as though I was moving so slowly. CK said I was doing fine and wasn't nearly as slow or shaky as I felt I was (this seems like a theme in my life... my therapist notes that I always evaluate myself far more harshly than others do).

I was so incredibly grateful to have CK riding behind me today, calling out instructions the whole time. She reminded me not to stop suddenly in bicycle traffic, as I had a couple of times due to nervousness in the hotel zone. She gently chided me later for answering my mobile and chatting briefly with AM, "Pull over to talk on the phone". I felt safer and less anxious with her there caring for me.

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