Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Bike Hunt Stories Show the Power of Bicycles - Story 9: Silver

For the last in this series of excerpts from my recently published memoir, Bike Hunt, I’ve chosen the story of Silver’s giveaway. He was an all-chrome adult-size stunt BMX bike I’d found at a pawn shop in San Antonio, Texas. His giveaway was one of the most magical as I found myself in the right moment in the right place with a bike I’d given the perfect name.

After lunch on the last day of the conference, I rode Silver to the bus stop where I would catch the bus to the airport, looking for an appropriate recipient along those empty streets. The bus stop happened to be at the edge of a tiny, lot-sized park, unusual for that city because it actually invited locals to linger. A hotdog vendor had a long line waiting. Families were picnicking in the grass. Workers of all types, some in work pants, others in business attire, sat on the low rock wall that encircled the lawn. I soaked in the scene before starting my slow ride around the park to find Silver his new owner.
            Halfway through my second lap, I spotted a man, maybe mid-thirties, wearing clean worker’s pants and a new plaid shirt, who had just bought a hot dog. The way he stood holding it, not eating, just thinking, gave me my cue.
            “Excuse me,” I said.
            “Yes?” he asked, obviously suspicious of me riding this BMX bike, a backpack on my back.
            I stepped off in front of him in an effort to look a bit more normal. “I’ll be catching the bus to the airport soon to fly back to Arizona where I live. I’ve been riding this wonderful bike I bought at a pawn shop, but now I need to find someone who can take care of him. For free, only the commitment to take care of him.”
            I knew I’d gotten his attention when he began asking questions, mostly so I would repeat that I was soon leaving and could very well leave that bike with him. By then, his hand had drooped to his side in his amazement and I worried he might drop the hotdog. He must have caught my glance because he set it down on the wall. With his hands free, I was able to push Silver toward him until he grabbed the grips and straddled the frame. He thanked me, then told me how this bike would add to a turning point that had happened earlier that day. After months without work, nearly losing his house, he had found a job. Now he could ride this bike and save bus money. When I told him the bike’s name was Silver, he clenched his jaw.
            “My daughter’s name... is Silver,” he said, as he turned away so I’d never know if the tears flowed. I left him like that, not turning back as the bus pulled up and I jumped on.

Silver’s Bike Hunt story is one of many throughout the book. His is the last of the select series of nine I’ve shared on this blog. All have the label “Bike Hunt” so you can easily find them.

Better yet, you can buy your own copy of Bike Hunt to read all of the stories and more. Find it through any online book vendor worldwide (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) or order it through your local book store. We also have copies for sale at www.OneStreet.org.

Sue

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Bike Hunt Stories Show the Power of Bicycles - Story 8: Penelope

Here in the United States, we’re enjoying a relaxed week as we prepare for Thanksgiving. Food is central to Thanksgiving. But we also must remember the reason for this holiday embedded in its name – appreciation. That’s why, for the next in this series of excerpts from my recently published memoir, Bike Hunt, I’ve chosen the story of Penelope, a royal blue mid-1950s Sears single-speed I’d found at a Chicago bike shop. I’ve chosen her because I gave her to a hungry man who appreciated her more than food.

The morning after the workshop, which was not as interesting as I had hoped, I headed south to give away Penelope, just as I’d done with Sprinter—a Sunday morning with only one hour to find her a home. The streets were deserted save for a few cars. I turned onto side streets hoping to find a park or other place where people gathered. Nothing. Back onto the thoroughfare heading south, all I could see into the morning glare was miles of vacant sidewalk. My pedal strokes slowed. The farther I pedaled, the farther I’d have to walk, or pedal, back. A thick shadow from a hulking freeway flyover crossed the wasteland of blinding pavement. I was drawn to the shadow more for relief than hope.
They appeared as my eyesight adjusted, a line of about thirty forlorn people behind a van with its double rear doors wide open, stuffed with loaves of bread. From drought to flood. How was I going to approach thirty people, all of whom likely needed Penelope? I didn’t have time to worry about it. I followed my instincts as usual, pedaling slowly up to the line then coasting along its length, waiting for a sign.
“Good morning,” said a young, battered man with blond hair and beard. “Nice bike you have there.”
And we’ve found our winner. I slammed on the brakes. “Do you need a bike?” I asked him.
“I sure do!”
“Well,” I said as I stepped off and leaned Penelope toward him, “it would be my pleasure to give you this bike.”
He listened, stunned, as I gave him the spiel. As I handed him the key, the people on both sides of him in the line patted his shoulders and congratulated him, some calling him James. He thanked me with his eyes before I turned away, still enjoying their celebratory chatter as I rounded the corner to begin my long walk back to the hostel. I was on a different street from the one I had come south on, peeking into storefronts and windows I wouldn’t have noticed earlier through my frustration.
Crossing a side street, I saw a homeless shelter a few blocks down with a small group of people gathered outside talking and soaking up the sun. Good to know I would have had an option if I hadn’t found that breadline. Just as I stepped up onto the curb, just before the shelter would have vanished from my view, I caught a glimpse of movement, a flash of blue and that unmistakable blond beard. I stopped, one foot in the street, the other on the curb to watch a beaming James ride up to his buddies. He’d left the breadline to show off his new wheels. That guy had his priorities straight.

Penelope’s Bike Hunt story is one of many throughout the book. I’ve got my eye on several more to share on this blog. All will have the label “Bike Hunt” so you can easily find them.

Better yet, you can buy your own copy of Bike Hunt to read all of the stories and more. Find it through any online book vendor worldwide (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) or order it through your local book store. We also have copies for sale at www.OneStreet.org.

Sue

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bike Hunt Stories Show the Power of Bicycles - Story 7: Sprinter

In three days, I will step into an official boxing ring to face down a stranger. The moment the bell rings and the referee says, “Box!” I will attack her with all the force and control I’ve learned from my coach and training over the past year. The photo is of me with my official USA Boxing passbook where this first bout will be recorded. Though it will be my first boxing bout, it’s certainly not my first standoff with a stranger. That’s why I’ve chosen the story of Sprinter, a hefty five-speed beach cruiser I found at a Chicago thrift store, as the next in this series of excerpts from my recently published memoir, Bike Hunt.
Sprinter’s story is a miniature of the book because I first relinquished him to a bully, just as I had relinquished myself to the job. Then, in a flash of honor for my former courageous self, I snatched him back to complete the Bike Hunt giveaway, only to face another bully on a desolate South Chicago street. The fighter, the boxer, who faced down that bully that cold, dreary morning is the part of me I will have to find on Friday if I expect to win my bout.

            Two months later on November 1st, 2004, I stepped out of a youth hostel in downtown Chicago with Sprinter by my side. It was the end of a quick, nearly disastrous trip that had centered around another fundraiser for Thunderhead. Like the San Francisco fundraiser, I had expected the Chicago bike advocates to step forward in droves to lend a hand, encouraged to help by the board chair. He was also a leader of the local Chicago bicycle advocacy organization, so he had the means to mobilize a small army and he had assured me he would. This is why I had organized the fundraiser in Chicago. Instead, a month before the event, after I’d reserved the room, secured auction items, and scheduled the speakers, not one of the local bike advocates had helped with ticket sales, promotions, or spreading the word. In the end it was all I could do to get a few dozen people to attend the expensive affair, even resorting to begging my in-laws to help fill the room.
            At the event, after the presentation of a big check from an industry sponsor who would have given it anyway and having introduced the next speaker, I nervously worked the sparse room wishing I had rented a smaller one so it would look more crowded, greeting each precious attendee like royalty. Thunderhead ended up losing money, but thankfully not much.
            When I’d arrived in Chicago, I’d simply gone to the board chair’s house and taken Sprinter. I’d told him I was going to do this via email, in statement form, not a question. His wife seemed relieved to get rid of the hefty bike. I was relieved to have him back under my care.
            That last morning, I stepped out into the chilly November air, a light drizzle falling. It was just past seven o’clock, a Monday morning. Even though it was a weekday, I knew my prospects would be slim in such miserable weather. I swung my leg over, took a few pedal strokes, and let Sprinter roll off the curb into the nearly empty street. I headed south because that’s where I’d seen the most people who seemed to be struggling, some homeless with bedrolls, others worn out from life’s relentless attacks.
            I saw him after several long blocks, his back to me, facing a fence to get a pocket of dry air to light his cigarette. He wasn’t quite frail, not quite old, but definitely sad. I veered across the four lanes of the wide street and bounced up onto the sidewalk, easing Sprinter to a stop not far from him. I gave my spiel as soon as he turned, unlit cigarette back in his hand as he took in my words.
            “Heck yeah, I need a bike!”
            I’d found Sprinter’s new home. It took me over a year, but I did it. Maybe this is what I needed, what that green-eyed man in Victoria had prayed for me to get.
            “Okay,” I said, as I rolled Sprinter close enough so he could grab the handlebar, “he’s your bike now.”
            But he didn’t reach out. Instead he recoiled and stepped back to cower next to the fence, his eyes terrified, looking past me. I turned to find a muscular youth towering over me.
            “You gonna give him that bike?” the punk spat.
            “I already did,” I said.
            “Give it to me,” the punk said.
            “It’s okay, it’s okay,” the man stammered. “I really don’t need a bike. He can have it.” He turned and began walking away.
            “Wait,” I said, maybe a bit too loud, “come back here. This is your bike. I don’t know who the fuck this guy is, but he sure as hell isn’t getting this bike!” This was Sprinter, damn it, and I wasn’t going to let any more bullies take him from me.
            I turned to glare at the punk. Fire must have been shooting out of my eyes because he stepped back. I turned to find the timid man shuffling back toward me through the misty rain.
            “You sure it’s mine?” he said, half asking, half convincing himself.
            “Damn straight this bike is yours! And don’t ever let anyone take him away from you. Promise me that.”
            “I promise,” he said, his grin returning as he finally took hold of the handlebar, swung his leg over, grabbed the key from my outstretched hand, and rode away, back straight and proud. When I turned around, the bully had vanished.

Sprinter’s Bike Hunt story is one of many throughout the book. I’ve got my eye on several more to share on this blog. All will have the label “Bike Hunt” so you can easily find them.

Better yet, you can buy your own copy of Bike Hunt to read all of the stories and more. Find it through any online book vendor worldwide (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) or order it through your local book store. We also have copies for sale at www.OneStreet.org.

Sue

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bike Hunt Stories Show the Power of Bicycles - Story 6: Jane

For the next in this series of excerpts from my recently published memoir, Bike Hunt, I’ve chosen the story of Jane’s giveaway. She was an immaculate, bright red mountain bike from the mid-1980s with all her original Suntour parts still shiny. I’d found her like a buried treasured at the bottom of a pile of department store bikes at the back of a thrift store in Seattle. Jane and I traveled by ferry to Victoria, British Columbia for two bicycle gatherings, and that’s where I gave her away to an enchanting green-eyed man.

On my last morning after the conference in Victoria that followed the retreat, I walked out onto the sidewalk in front of the conference venue with Jane at my side. Jane deserved to find a home like her original owner must have given her, someone who would care for her and appreciate how special she was. I started down the wide, landscaped sidewalk, past caringly pruned young trees and flower boxes, benches and public art. I’d never seen such an adorned city, designed first for flowers and trees, a fitting place for Jane.
The people I passed all seemed content and busy with their tasks. I’d only walked a few blocks when I spotted him, a somewhat overweight middle-aged man dressed in colorful rags, settled on a bench, his dreadlocks bundled under a billowing knitted cap of yellow, red, and green. I stopped to figure out what he was doing. He was counting change in his palm. With careful steps I approached, trying not to startle him in his vulnerable task. I stopped again about ten feet away and waited, watching his dark finger as it moved each coin to the edge of his palm. The finger froze on a silver coin and he looked up, his brilliant green eyes electrifying me.
“Sorry,” I said, “I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”
“It’s okay,” he said. “I’m afraid I don’t have enough anyway. How can I help you?”
“I need to find someone who needs a bike, who can take care of this bike, who...” my emotion got the better of me.
“Can you start again? I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at,” he said in a soothing voice.
“Would you like this bike?” I blurted.
“I would love that bike,” he said with conviction.
“She’s all yours,” I said, then realized this man had no idea of the background. I was so concerned about finding Jane a great home, I had completely blown my giveaway spiel. I quickly filled in the missing parts about finding her at the Goodwill in Seattle and riding her during my week of meetings, that I had to find her a new home because I was leaving for my home in Arizona in a few hours. As I spoke, his face gradually shifted from his serious change-counting expression to jubilation. I rolled Jane close enough so he could reach her handlebar then let her go when he reached out. “She’s a beauty,” I said, “All original, a classic mountain bike from the mid ‘80s.”
“I can see she’s a beauty,” he said as he studied her.
“I’m so glad you can give her a good home. And here’s the key to her lock.”
“It’s my pleasure to give her a home,” he said, carefully taking the key. “In fact, you have given me exactly what I needed most. When you approached, I was counting my money to see if I had enough for one bus ride. Now, with this bike, I will never have to pay for a bus trip again.”
I could only smile in response because I couldn’t find any words.
“Now, there’s just one more thing I want,” he said, fixing his eyes on mine. “I want you to get exactly what you need too. I will pray for this, that you get exactly what you need.”
As I stood there, captivated by his green, determined eyes, I wondered what that might be. All my reference points had been replaced with what I believed Thunderhead needed. I let his words be the last between us, nodded with appreciation, and left him and Jane together on that majestic street.

Jane’s Bike Hunt story is one of many throughout the book. I’ve got my eye on several more to share on this blog. All will have the label “Bike Hunt” so you can easily find them.

Better yet, you can buy your own copy of Bike Hunt to read all of the stories and more. Find it through any online book vendor worldwide (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) or order it through your local book store. We also have copies for sale at www.OneStreet.org.

Sue

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bike Hunt Stories Show the Power of Bicycles - Story 5: Rebel

Today is Halloween, which sets my mind on an eerie bike hunt giveaway in Denver back in 2001. It was my fourth attempt at a Bike Hunt and my first true giveaway. The scene that unfolded that cold early morning still reminds me of ghosts and that gut-wrench possibility of goblins. That’s why I’ve chosen the story of Rebel, a battered blue mountain bike with dodgy brakes, for the next in this series of excerpts from my recently published memoir, Bike Hunt.

            The frigid pre-dawn air smacked me as I stepped through the sliding glass hotel entry rolling Rebel at my side. Had I not had this urgent errand, I would have turned right around and headed back to my cozy room to wait out the hour before the airport shuttle would arrive. One hour to scan the unfamiliar streets of downtown Denver for the proper recipient of Rebel—a worn, but sturdy mountain bike I’d bought at a pawn shop two days before. October 2001, an early winter. This was the wrap up of my fourth Bike Hunt, my first deliberate giveaway. Pony, in Philadelphia, had inspired the hunt. Fifi, in D.C., had broadened my expectations. And Purple Flash, in Wenatchee, had sweetened it all with her giveaway. I had to get this one right.
            I’d been riding Rebel to the various meetings scheduled around a transportation summit for western officials and advocates. He was a good bike, brakes a bit sketchy, but he rolled smooth, shifted well, and actually came to a stop if I squeezed both levers hard. His blue paint was scratched through in many spots though I could see he was once a looker. The pawn shop owner had lent me the few tools I needed to tighten his hubs, adjust his stem, and rethread the left pedal that had nearly fallen off. I named him Rebel because he had obviously faced great odds, but he had a certain vigor to him as soon as I pedaled off, as if he’d hated being cooped up in that pawn shop.
            I donned my helmet (a bad habit I had back then) and started pedaling, fighting the urge to pedal fast against the cold. Granules of snow pelted my face and sugarcoated the few people out, walking fast, pre-rush hour. Even though this was my first deliberate Bike Hunt giveaway, I knew Rebel’s new owner could be anyone I passed. I needed to take it slow, study each face, find the one with a bit of sadness, something missing in their life.
            I turned onto the 16th Street Mall where I’d seen homeless people the night before laying out their blankets in doorways. The 16th Street Mall was formerly a traffic-filled city street, but it no longer admitted cars, only pedestrians, cyclists, and a free tram that moseyed down the center. This allowed me to zig and zag from doorway to doorway across the street and back. But I kept striking out. All I could see were mounds of blankets, cardboard, and newspaper with a bit of sugarcoating for effect. Come to think of it, if I’d slept in a doorway the night before, I sure as heck wouldn’t be throwing back my blankets anytime soon either, at least not until the sun was well up. And I wasn’t about to go up and nudge any of the mounds. Picture that: Nudge, “Hiya, do you want a bicycle?” Let’s just say that wasn’t an option.
            I checked my watch—only half an hour before I had to be back at the hotel in time to grab my things and bolt to the shuttle. The farther I went, the longer it would take to walk back. I was nearing the end of the pedestrian mall area with only the endless expanse of the unfamiliar city stretching beyond. I shook off the thought of failure.
            Only three doorways with mounds remained before I’d have to venture out into the untamed streets. As my heart sank with the prospect of traveling too far to walk back in time for my shuttle, I glanced to my right down a side street at an eerie scene. In the beam of a streetlamp, a billow of ghostly steam whirled up against the descending snow. At first, all I saw was the steam, then a dark shape and then all seven of them, palms pushing down as they rocked back and forth.
            Standing on my pedals, squeezing hard on the brake levers, I nearly fell over as Rebel eased to a stop. It took all my will not to ride full speed right at them and tell them how excited I was to find them. I carefully eased my leg over the seat, composed myself, and walked as nonchalantly as I could toward the group. They were about half a block away, time enough for me to practice my line, and then I realized I had a big problem—what if they all wanted Rebel? I stopped. No, it was my last chance. Time was evaporating with each hesitation.
            With careful steps forward I studied the group. They were Native American, likely a family, four generations. There was a boy, maybe four or five, too small for Rebel. There was an old woman, grey streaks in her long black hair held back with a turquoise-inlaid clasp, and an old man with a black cowboy hat and deep grooves in his face. They wouldn’t want him, would they? A middle-aged man draped with a colorful blanket hardly looked up, unlikely to get involved. That left the three who looked to be in their teens and twenties, one girl, the others guys. Still a problem. I kept moving, much less excited than a few minutes before. I decided to let it play out and follow my instincts, bail if I needed to.
            I walked right toward them along the sidewalk, carefully watching each face through the dancing billows of steam, especially the three. The old man stepped back, shielding the old woman. The kid squeezed between their legs. The three stood their ground. I kept walking. About ten feet from them I stopped.
“Hi,” I said, and that’s all.
I waited. But I didn’t have to wait long. One of the young men—maybe seventeen, Broncos team jacket, shoulder-length black hair, inquisitive expression—stepped forward.
“Hi,” he said. “How’s it going?”
Problem solved. He would get Rebel. I delivered my story directly to him, not the others. I explained that I’d bought the bike to ride during a conference, but I needed to find him a home before I left that morning. He listened carefully with his eyes on Rebel.
“How much you want for it?”
“Nothing, except your promise to take good care of him. I named him Rebel.” I wasn’t sure if I should have said this, but when he looked up at me and smiled, I was glad I had.
“I’ll take good care of him, I promise,” he said as he reached out to touch the handlebar grip. I let go, so he had to grab it before the bike fell.
“He’s all yours.”
He swung his new bike to his side, then crouched down to look at the wheels and gears.
“How many gears?”
“Eighteen. The brakes are a bit worn, but if you use both at the same time it’s no problem. He rides real smooth.”
With that he stood and turned to the group, showing them his new ride. Though his back was to me, his elation was reflected in their faces. Then I remembered the lock, a new detail I’d added for this Bike Hunt. I’d brought an inexpensive coil lock to give away with the bike so the recipient wouldn’t have to worry about it getting stolen. The lock was dangling from the back of the seat, the key still in my pocket. I fished for it and brought it out.
“I almost forgot, you’ll need the key to the lock.”
He turned around, looked down at my outstretched hand and back up into my face as if I’d offered him another million dollars. He took the key, speechless.
That was it. Success. I was about to turn to leave when the old man, hidden behind the steam, abruptly spoke.
“Wait,” he said as he stepped through the group to face me, his hand strangely patting his hat. The young man with Rebel was still smiling so I knew this wasn’t a threat. “Can you give my grandson a hat too?”
It took me a minute to figure out what he was saying. A helmet, he wanted me to give his grandson a helmet.
“No,” I said, now also patting my helmeted head. “I only have this one. I’m sorry.”
“That’s okay,” he said and paused to admire the bike with his grandson. “Thanks for the bike. He needs it. He’s looking for a job this week and this will help him. We need the money as you can see.” Then he slipped back behind the steam.
I wished the young man good luck on his job hunt and in reply he held out his right fist. I’d never seen this before, but instinctively I made a fist and touched it to his before turning and walking away.

Rebel’s Bike Hunt story is one of many throughout the book. I’ve got my eye on several more to share on this blog. All will have the label “Bike Hunt” so you can easily find them.

Better yet, you can buy your own copy of Bike Hunt to read all of the stories and more. Find it through any online book vendor worldwide (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) or order it through your local book store. We also have copies for sale at www.OneStreet.org.

Sue

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Bike Hunt Stories Show the Power of Bicycles - Story 4: George

This week, I’ve been working with my Bosnian colleagues to develop a campaign planning workshop series in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the fall of 2018. So, for the next in this series of excerpts from my recently published memoir, Bike Hunt, I’d like to share a story from the Balkans.

George was a mistreated metallic-blue mountain bike I bought in Pula, Croatia before the annual general meeting of the European Cyclists’ Federation, which took place on the island of Veliki Brijun, a short ferry ride from Pula. George found his new home inland, in the city of Zagreb, thanks to my bike advocate friend Darinka. This was the first time I’d seen the Bike Hunt through someone else’s eyes. Enjoy.

On my last afternoon, Darinka joined me for George’s giveaway. As we pedaled downtown and into an open square of mingling crowds surrounded by ornate buildings, I warned Darinka that sometimes the giveaway can be quite difficult, though I had no idea what we were in for. After nearly two hours of Darinka giving the spiel in Croatian to countless people as I played her sidekick showcasing George, we both slumped onto the edge of a fountain to regroup. Everyone we had approached was either too busy or already had a bicycle. We had just decided to make another full circle of the square when we both spotted the same man.
“That’s him,” I said.
“That is definitely him,” she said as we walked toward him as casually as possible.
His sadness showed in his slow stride and slouched shoulders. I guessed he was in his forties, a worker with blue carpenter’s pants and short, dusty blond hair. He had sauntered out of the crowd on the edge of the square and was slowly making his way to the other side. Darinka caught his attention and began the spiel. He listened intently, looking slightly down at her. When she was done, he glanced over at me and George, then back to Darinka to ask careful questions. She started getting excited, explaining and pointing at George then pointing at him, showing him the bike would be all his. That’s when his face lit up and I swear he grew several inches as he turned to gaze at George. I pushed George into his hands and he pulled him close. Darinka went on talking as I fumbled for the key. I had to nudge him to pull his attention away from the bike and hand him the key, pointing to the lock. He took it as his face spread into joy and a tear formed in his eye. He sucked in some air and spoke to Darinka before throwing his leg over the bike and pedaling away. We both watched him disappear into the crowd and then Darinka sprang into a wild twirling dance around me.
“That was incredible!” she shouted, jumping and dancing in a circle so I had to keep turning to see her. “He told me his bike had been stolen weeks ago and he’d been walking for hours each day to and from work because he had no money for another bike. We just changed that man’s life!”
Watching the effect of the Bike Hunt giveaway through Darinka’s reaction, laughing and exclaiming along with her in the middle of that city of survivors, I could step back and see it, see why the Bike Hunt had become so essential to me.

George’s Bike Hunt story is one of many throughout the book. I’ve got my eye on several more to share on this blog. All will have the label “Bike Hunt” so you can easily find them.

Better yet, you can buy your own copy of Bike Hunt to read all of the stories and more. Find it through any online book vendor worldwide (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) or order it through your local book store. We also have copies for sale at www.OneStreet.org.

Sue

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bike Hunt Stories Show the Power of Bicycles - Story 3: The Iron Maiden

For the next in this series of excerpts from my recently published memoir, Bike Hunt, I’ve chosen a bike hunt story that reminds me how grateful I am to be healthy and able-bodied. This last weekend was full of training, competing, and celebrating with my boxing and tennis friends. Because of stories like this bike hunt, I know that just one injury would sever these joys from my life. That thought is a gut punch to me.

So today I give you the story of The Iron Maiden who helped one man move freely again. She was a heavy steel, industrial blue, women’s-frame ten-speed bike from a thrift store in Denver, which I took to Boulder for a visit with a friend.

The next morning, I headed straight to the shelter. As I pedaled up, there were a dozen guys hanging out in a tight group. I stopped in the street next to them, got their attention, gave my spiel and settled back on The Iron Maiden’s seat to take in the reaction. Some laughed, others elbowed, teasing one guy that he needed a bike to lose some weight, another that he could use it to leave town. Watching the faces I was starting to wonder if I’d come up dry, when I heard a voice from below.
“I need a bike,” the voice said, this time sincere.
I looked down to find lying on the sidewalk a Grizzly Adams type, complete with beard and tussled blond hair, crutches at his side. I tuned out the jeers and moved closer to hear him.
“My bike got stolen about three months ago,” he continued, “and ever since, this sciatic nerve has plagued me. When I was riding that bike, I was fine, could even work. Now look at me. I’m a damned cripple.”
The jeers had stopped. They were listening too.
“Wow,” I said, “You definitely need a bike. But how do you know you can actually ride her?”
Rather than answer, he struggled to sit up and then get to his feet, wincing. One of the other guys helped him get his crutches. I got off The Iron Maiden and lined her up near the curb. Using his crutches, he lowered himself into the street, then handed them back to the guy who had helped. He took hold of her handlebar, slid his leg carefully through her low-curved frame and eased himself onto the saddle. The group hushed.
“Oh yeah,” he said, like a mountain man astride a wild horse, “I can ride her, no problem.”
“I named her The Iron Maiden,” I said. “You feel her weight?”
“That’s cool,” he said with a daring grin as he gazed at all sides of his new ride. “That’s the perfect name for her.”
At this, the group erupted into hoots and applause.

The Iron Maiden’s Bike Hunt story is one of many throughout the book. I’ve got my eye on several more to share on this blog. All will have the label “Bike Hunt” so you can easily find them.

Better yet, you can buy your own copy of Bike Hunt to read all of the stories and more. Find it through any online book vendor worldwide (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) or order it through your local book store. We also have copies for sale at www.OneStreet.org.

Sue