Says Jane: I have one, maybe you can use it.
Good grief Charlie Brown.
Jane's daughter Kia knows where the trike is, figures out how she's going to get it to me, gets a new bike rack for the car she and her husband Andrew use, carts the trike back to the Kootenays from where they have it in storage.
Poof! I'm a tricyclist. So here is me, trying out a tricycle that is all but brand new. Custom-built, if you please. Six-speed Shimano gears. Classic in color: metallic blue. Rear-mounted, white-clad metal basket, ample for hauling. A truly generously cushy wide seat. Parking brakes!
Oh me oh my. What could be bad about this?
Well, the bad thing is the reason I have it, which is that Jane has become incapable of using it. But I do have it and since I got it, I'd better use it wisely. So I get to pass Go, but Pass Go and collect - What?
Well, for starters: A length of chain and a combination lock, in case I have to park it somewhere where it might be subject to being 'borrowed' for a joy ride. A lined rectangular wicker bike basket that DJ has in her Garden Graces store, with leather straps so it can hang on the handlebars in front of me for the immediately-needed. Like: Fold-up long cane. Camera. Sketch pad, pencil case. Water/juice bottle. Mini Leatherman? Japanese lunch pail? (Meant for sushi, but does also for cookies)
Emboldened, I start using it every day. Every. Day.
Oops! I'm tricycling away, happily oyes happily, discover that the pedals spin emptily if I'm going over what can't be much more than 8-10 mph (no speedometer but I can guesstimate). I trike over to Rob the bike guy to ask about adjusting the gears so there's more drag on the chain, so it's harder to pedal. He suggests I don't do that. The more you pedal, he says, the better for you.
So OK, I agree to keep using it as is, for longer. Discover Rob's right, it's better to build strength gradually. In fact I decide I can stand to do a lot of that. It's been a long time since I could depend upon pedal transport to get me where I want to go. Just about nineteen years. To be exact: nineteen years, seven months and five days.
But so what? Here it is: I'm cycling. Yes indeed (to paraphrase Fats Domino) I'm cycling. Yes, indeed, I'm cycling.
A bicycle it is not (the seat creaks! - I'm thinking maybe it needs a shot of WD40) but still, it's a cycle. Pedal power. Back on the road again.
Now lemme say: I've not missed driving, inconvenient as it is to have become a non-driver in a world totally dominated by an economy of scale geared inhumanly (and inhumanely) to cars. Cycling, I've missed. A cycle =s independence. No mistake about that. Welcome to the world.
So I trike, one early evening, from New Denver to Silverton because there's a performance at the Gallery that I only learn about at the last minute. I dunno anyone who's driving there and I wanna go, I wanna go. So I go. I trike. I trike.
I pedal and pedal. I get to the Gallery in good time, arrive moments before the performance starts, in time to see it all.
It's a great show and I'm good to pedal back to New Denver afterwards. It's still kinda light outside. The weather's good...
But I get - oh yeah, I really get - that I'm on a highway. A highway!
Well, sort of a highway. A so-to-speak highway: Two lanes, hardly any shoulder on either side, cliff on the east side, steep drop to the lake on the west. Not much of a highway, as highways go.
But nevertheless a highway insofar as there are people in vehicles heading north, people in vehicles heading south. There is movement on the road in both directions.
What makes it a highway instead of a road is that the movement in both directions includes log-loaded semis and "chip trucks," also semis. Semis, loaded and not-loaded, are, to say the least: Not good company in motion.
There was once much talk about an alternative to chip trucks. Rail would have been logical but rail vanished from these there hills a long while ago. So, an alternative other than rail. (Especially not-rail after what used to be railroad tracks became a hiking trail.)
Barges, it was said, could carry chip-truck cargo on water, into the USA from Canada on the mighty Columbia River.
True. Barges could. But that ain't happened. Yet.
But I digress. The effect of my cycling to Silverton and back is simple: It's perfectly clear to me that Yes, I need a helmet. And a reflector vest.
A quick search on Amazon says these items can be bought but before I decide to actually buy online, someone asks: Did you try the Donation Store?
Well, No. I hadn't. This is a Very Good Idea because money is tight and anyway, I'm an inveterate thrift-shopper from way back in the day. Starting with my Cosanti days, if I recall rightly. Certainly a staunch Ferguson (if you know Arcosanti) believer.
So I hie me to the DS, which is a pay-what-you-can, pay-what-you-will, recycle-your-goods thrift-type store that started as a community service among the villagers of New Denver/Silverton/et cie, umpteen years ago. The gentle founders thought it was A Good Idea and that it might last - a year, maybe two; but it's turned out to be so needed and oh so successful that it's become a village fixture. Feature, even.
So, sure enough: Ask and ye shall receive. A helmet, my size. Grey. Fancy name-brand, for heaven's sake! After that find, I stop at Adam's house to ask him (he works with Jacob, younger-son-the-electrician) does he know if their fine newly-opened electrical supply store in Nakusp has reflector tape?
Reflector tape, no, Adam says. Maybe try the local hardware store? he suggests.
So I press on. Reflector vest?
Vest? Ah, so. Adam darts outside for a moment, returns with an industrial one that Jacob managed to commandeer from someone on a jobsite. Roomy. Pockets! After I throw it in a washing machine, hot water and soap turn it into one fantastically visible garment. Yup, I'm really onto something, here. Yes, indeed. Keep pedaling!
So as I'm on my way to the hardware store, Isabell, a sympathique neighbor whom I've just started getting to know catches me out, asks where I'm off to, ambles alongside as I trike slowly down the street. I tell her where I'm going, explain my purpose. When she hears what I'm about, she says: Come with me. Leads me past the hardware store, turns us onto a street heading southerly, stops us at a place not far from the corner. Introduces me to Mike.
Mike turns out to be a genius with LeD lights, sees immediately my dilemma. Can he suggest a solution?
You betchya. Yes, indeed, he can. How about, he says, LeD running lights, solar powered? Dynamo (friction, gathered off the wheels as they rotate, old-style power) for turn signals? We're on! A prototype to be developed, a system in the making...
As days go by, it's clear to me that I am getting increasingly attached to 'my' trike, which technically I am still only just trying out. I pedal around town daily, even at night. I cycle to the grocery store, the hardware store, the PO, over the bridge and down just a bit of highway to visit Jane, up the hill and down the lane to visit other friends. (Dennis would have been so pleased.)
Oyez, oyez! Yea, I'm cycling!
Yes, it's clumsier than a bike. It doesn't respond like a bike. It's not a bike. I know that. It will never be a bike, even if people incorrectly refer to it as a bike.
However: It is a cycling machine. It satisfies me hugely that I can pedal not just for the sake of it but to actually GET where I want to go. Somewhere. Any old where.
Yes once again, I'm pedaling. Yes indeed I'm pedaling.