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It’s important to point out that I’m not an avid bicyclist. I enjoy riding my bike and love the outdoors, but this experience is new to me. This trip wasn’t a recreational bike ride like when I’m with my kids around my neighborhood — in this case my bike was my only source of transportation.
I felt like a car, but so much smaller. It was scary, but fun.
I had planned my route ahead of time, so I knew what side streets I could take and what main roads I needed to be prepared for. The busy streets kept me alert and defensive.
As I got closer to the 205 bridge, the bike lane I was riding on was great because it was all downhill. Tucked in a quaint little neighborhood, the bike path is almost like a hiking trail – except for the traffic noise of State Route 14 on my left.
The great downhill path was soon replaced by a steep ramp leading onto the bridge. I wanted to stop and walk my bike, but despite the burn in my legs, I peddled on up the ramp.
As I entered Oregon, I couldn’t help but think how different my trip would have been if I had been traveling from Oregon to Washington. The entire ride on the bridge would have been uphill. I’m afraid in that case my ride would have turned into a walk as I would have pushed my bike up the incline.
I learned quickly that momentum is everything when you’re on a bike. I gained speed riding downhill north to south on the bridge and it felt like I was going maybe 25 or 30 miles per hour. It was pretty fast and I was having visions of breaking every bone in my body if I accidently biffed it, so I decided to slow down to enjoy the scenery.
My entire ride that day was just short of 15 miles – quite an accomplishment for someone who never does this sort of thing. The bridge was only about 2 ½ miles but was the highlight of my trip.
I realized I don’t know all there is to know about bike safety. Do I ride with traffic or against? Growing up, I was taught to walk against traffic, but that didn’t seem right for a bike. I found out later that it’s called Wrong Way Cycling.
I learned a lot while riding my bike across the bridge. I learned that Washington has a mandatory all-ages helmet law. I learned that I like drivers who pay attention and I don’t like drivers who cut in front of me. I learned that when I turn my head to look for traffic behind me, I can easily lose my balance. I think a mirror on my handle bar would be a wise investment. I also like crosswalks at intersections, but not at on- and off-ramps. I learned that a comfortable seat is worth its weight in gold and that I like my water bottle.
In the end, I liked the feeling of accomplishment I had. I kind of like the idea of riding my bike home from work and I give props to all those people who do this all the time.
For more information about bike safety, even though not from Vancouver, visit KenKifer.com.