My First Time Biking in Portland

After 2 months in my new beloved city of Portland, I decided to buy a cheap road bike and give biking a try. I’m a little hesitant to invest too much money into this because I’ve had knee problems in the past and I’d hate to drop hundreds of dollars into gear only find out I can’t really ride.

The first time I went riding was on a bike path path neat my apartment. The bike was a bit uncomfortable since I am not used to the “drop” style handlebars (the kind you see on road and racing bikes) but it rolled along almost effortlessly. It was so much fun I couldn’t wait to take it out on the road.

So the next night I decided to go out for a spin and go towards the Tilikum Crossing Bridge. My area has tons of bike lanes so riding is easy and traffic was very light at that time.  The speed limit is also very low and Portland drivers are much more careful than most and used to yielding to cyclist and pedestrians. But I learned a very important lesson about biking in Portland that night.  Suddenly, the bike lane I was in curved off to the right and a “no bikes” sign appeared.  Not realizing what was happening I stayed in the lane then tracks for the streetcar entered my lane from the right. Confused for a moment I decided I would stop and get up on the sidewalk but it was too late. My front wheel got stuck in the streetcar track. I flew over the handlebars and met the pavement with my knee, my palm, and my head.

Getting up off the ground I checked myself out. Thanks to my helmet, my head was just fine. My right palm was a little scraped and bloody. My left thumb was mysteriously starting to swell up. My jeans where ripped and just below the knee was a 2″x 2″ patch of missing skin, asphalt, and blood.

But I didn’t turn back.

There’s something magical about biking. Maybe it’s the fact that unlike driving, you are physically working to get where you’re going. But the bike empowers you to move faster and farther than you can on your own. It’s as though your muscles gain super powers. It’s a connection you lose behind the wheel of an automobile.

With adrenaline pumping and with the bridge almost in sight, I rode onward. When I reached the bridge I decided to keep going. I had to know what biking across it felt like. The city at night was gorgeous as I pedaled on. I turned around at the other end and on my way back I stopped to take a photo to commemorate my journey.

My $80 secondhand bike in front of downtown Portland from the top of Tilikum Crossing.

Sure, everyday, hundreds or thousands of people nonchalantly cross this bridge as part of their daily commute but to me, this moment was glorious. My first trip was not a smooth one but a great experience nonetheless.