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Portland's Providence Bridge Pedal delights cyclists of all ages

From children enjoying the family ride to 90-year-old Mitzi Loftus, bicyclists found passion in Portland's annual bridge ride

PORTLAND, Ore. — It was a great day to swap four wheels for two wheels in Portland on Sunday.

Thousands of people enjoyed the annual Providence Bridge Pedal, riding bicycles over bridges that are usually closed for cars.

With the sun rising over Portland, cyclists kicked off their annual pilgrimage, including 90-year-old Mitzi Loftus.

"I just love it," Loftus said aboard her tandem bike that she rides behind a friend. "Whatever he says, I say let's go, I enjoy the scenery and he does all the work!"

If Loftus represents a rider with lots of life experience, her energy was matched by three young girls who prepared for their rides about 100 yards away.

"I’m excited to go up the big hill and this time I think we’re going to be able to push through that big hill without stopping," said Elena Gerwing.

RELATED: Bridge Pedal and Stride; what routes to avoid this Sunday

If you ask Margot Bender, one of the pre-adolescent trio, the bridge pedal is more than just a fun time.

"People are saving animals by not polluting with cars. Instead they’re riding their bikes and closing the streets and helping people learn cars aren’t the only way to be transported," Bender said.

When Loftus was their age, she remembers a different world. She didn't have a bike at age 12.

"My brothers had bikes and I would sneak a ride on there, but I didn’t really know how to ride a bike. I’m not a biker at all," she said.

Now, Loftus just says yes to most anything. When her friend asked her to ride when she was 85, she said she signed right up. 

"It's good for my knees," she said with a laugh. "People say oh, I'm old, I'm not sure I can do it. Well you never can tell until you do."

RELATED: Blumenauer Bridge opens for bikes and pedestrians across I-84 in Northeast Portland

Loftus said her positive, forward-looking spirit leads her to places like this one — a 13-mile bike ride across some of Portland's most iconic bridges.

She knows she's not alone.

"It feels really great that other people also feel the urge to do this, like you don’t have to if you don’t want to but you want to do it," said Ellery McIness, part of the young girl trio.

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