Serendipity is one of life’s great treats. I needed a cycling break along Route 126 toward Florence, so stopped at a riverside park for shade and nourishment. I noticed an unusual bike strapped to a parked car. A woman called out, “Are you the guy looking for a place to stay in Coos Bay?”
Janet and Robert are warmshowers hosts who couldn’t accommodate my request to stay with them as they were leaving town themselves. Coincidence landed us in at the same roadside park as we travelled in opposite direction.
They explained their bicycle: a tandem with a recumbent seat in front and traditional one behind. Janet told me, “I developed neck problems and couldn’t use a standard bike anymore. We saw this, used, bought it and we love it. It’s not perfect, any momentum you gain going down is lost, so every climb starts from scratch.” Robert demonstrated how independent pedaling works via three chains, though the recumbent person doesn’t have to pedal at all.
The bike draws interest wherever they go. The person on the front seat can contribute to pedal, via the three-chain system, or they can just sit and enjoy the ride. “We were at a fair and people were looking at the bike. A ninety-year-old woman studied it. I asked ‘Would you like a ride?’ She swung her purse at me to hold, climbed on the front, and Robert pedaled her all around the fair. She didn’t want to stop. Turns out the last time she was on a bike was 1939, in Hungary, before the Nazis confiscated it.”
Robert added, “We’re going to Eugene for a few days. We have a friend with an autistic son. He’s nineteen, a big kid. He loves to ride with me.”
I asked where the front rider put his hands; as there is no handle bar. “The front rider puts his hands wherever he wants. They might catch some air over a railroad track, but basically gravity holds them in place. The autistic kid, he shoots his arms straight out. When he’s on this bike he’s a superhero.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“I don’t know. Ever since I got your request it has made me think. There’s the environment, the economy, the big things. Then there’s my life; I have a lot of health problems. Then there is tomorrow, like tomorrow, and tomorrow as in the future. It’s a big question.” – Janet
“I think of it in two ways. What am I going to do on Sunday and what am I going to do beyond that to provide lasting good? I am going to ride my bike tomorrow, with this autistic kid. Hopefully my bike riding and the experiences I give people riding this tandem will mesh with the greater good. I hope so.” – Robert