Thursday, July 07, 2005
BIKING THE HELLWAY
This is the week for breaking all sorts of bicycle taboos.
For those of you not versed in Portland's Bike Culture ways, Zoobomb is Portland's weekly ride of bicycle mayhem. Every Sunday night (around 10pm) a group of hardy riders take the MAX from dowtown to the Washington Park-Zoo stop, ride/walk up the rest of the way to the top of the hill, and from there ride bikes really fast down Fairview in the West Hills all the way to the bottom--and then get back on the train and do it again. The more dedicated ride small bikes, i.e. kid's bikes (20" wheels or smaller, yes even 12" wheels) usually customized to make adult riding somewhat easier.
When I have the time or energy and if the weather ain't too bad I partake in this very fun and very addictive activity. The past Sunday (7/3) was one of these times. Being atop the West Hills in Hoyt Arboretum and seeing all the illicit fireworks activity going off over the Rose City was pretty cool, especially since we were all above the war zone of cheap fireworks that was transpiring below.
About fifty of us were present, and we did one run down the "main" course (3.0, the one described above). Then Handsome announced the next one would be a quick one down the "Hellway".
The "Hellway" is possibly the ultimate (debatable) of the various Zoobomb routes. It is also known as "Highway Bomb" and the course indeed uses the highway--US 26, the Sunset Freeway between Zoo and Canyon Road exits. Yes, bombing on a freeway. It is perfectly legal, and perfectly dangerous, as freeways are not built for bikes. I had heard about this route before but never had the cajones to try it.
But tonight that changed. As the Zoobomb exited the elevators, the lineup for Hellbomb started, and I found myself along with 50 other riders making the plunge. We weaved down the road, past the Zoo and the Children's Museum and finally onto the US 26. "We're all going to DIE!" I remember shouting as we zoomed down the ramp and onto the awaiting expressway.
There was enough of us to take the right-most of the three lanes, and cars going 70 whizzed by us on the left, a bit confused about the fact that there are all these BICYCLES on the highway! Some were perplexed enough to start braking! Yes, we are crazy! But before they knew it, we had completed the run and were whizzing down the Canyon Road offramp to the Goose Hollow MAX stop.
Everyone high on adrenaline (and no one hurt!) we each congratuated ourselves on the daring run. The Zoobomb beancounters determined it was the biggest Hellway ever (in a summer of breaking records!) Go, Zoobomb!
Maybe I'll see you on the hill on Sunday night?