This was my second year riding in Bend’s unofficial traffic breakdown known as the Freedom Ride, hosted every year on the Fourth of July. If you think maybe trying to drive through our city’s already California clogged streets is a wise idea on the Fourth, forget it. Or pack some snacks because you won’t be doing much driving.
Bicycles are the clear mode of transport here although riders can be spotted on other various wheeled devices like longboards, skateboards and the occasional Razor scooter. Despite this a rogue rider on a yellow Yamaha FZ09 did great at stalling his 900cc bike a few times while trying to weave through thousands of boozed-up bicyclists. Trying to drive through this madness is utterly pointless, as they say in Star Trek, “Resistance is futile.” One unfortunate victim piloting a brand new Subaru Outback (Because Bend.) found out the hard way, accumulating quite a few empty beer bottles on their car.
You may read all this and notice alcohol is an underlying current in this ride, and you’d be right. Bend is quite literally up to it’s eyeballs in beer. With literally dozens of amazing breweries within the city offering more of their beers above 6% than not, it’s a town most beer drinkers would think of as paradise. Despite that Pabst Blue Ribbon is still the most commonly spotted adult soda at these types of things. I mean it has a blue ribbon, you know.
The Freedom Ride itself is less of a ride, rather a massive migrating festival full of alcohol, weed, debauchery, and elaborate patriotism on two pedal-powered wheels. And despite that it works out unusually well, and doesn’t devolve into a massive Tour de France style pile-up, which all science says it should. From it’s raucous start at a city park just north of the city’s Mirror Pond, to it’s final destination not even 2 miles away at another one of the city’s park further up river. The destination here providing the final hurrah of the ride with America fueled frat boys taking leaps into the always cold Deschutes River, from a bridge literally bouncing from the amount of people on it.
As a side-note that seriously can’t be good for that bridge’s lifespan, but it didn’t collapse. So there’s that.
The Freedom Ride everything wrong and right with America culminated down to a few thousand people that have nothing better to do on a Monday than day drink and break multiple traffic laws in the name of Freedom. It’s also one of those things that is only possible to be held at all due to the city it takes place in, and that’s pretty damn neat. It’s fun, it’s literally insane, and quite possibly one of the best times you could have as long as the dehydration doesn’t get to you first.