I used to run bicycle tours in Eastern Europe with my Lipson cousins and friend Mary Szpur, and these were self-contained trips, for which each participant carries all their own stuff. Folks on these kind of tours learn what amazing machines bikes are; we regularly carried fifty pounds worth of tools, clothes, food and drink, souvenirs. Now at home, I have these open baskets on my bike, and even when I’m on a pleasure ride I keep them on. First of all, I think it’s safer, since I’m a wider presence on the road, and second so that I can pick things up along the way. Among the objects I’ve brought home are wrenches, a table, an almost dead Luna moth, grocery bags of black walnuts, and grocery bags of groceries.
I loaned my car to my niece and her husband for a few days, and so I set out to do some grocery shopping at the health food store on the other side of town, and then on the way back, when I was almost home, I stopped at a yard sale (held in an empty storefront available for lease) and bought this chair. The guy running the yard sale offered to deliver it for me, but I said I’d be fine with a piece of rope. The gentleman of a fellow strapped it on for me.
The guy was kind of well dressed for our neighborhood, and I asked him if was from the the area, and he said yes, he’d grown up back there (pointing to a side street that dead ends at the Kalamazoo River). My neighborhood is poor and struggles to attract and keep any businesses. The jail is right there and the dog pound, which is a sad place that will accept your donations of food and treats gratefully. The streets leading to the river flood every couple years and a lot of the houses are filled with mold from having the water over their floor boards.
At the sale, I saw a guy I knew, Pat, who lived his whole life (he’s maybe 65) in one of those houses that have suffered floods, and I was telling him about some stories I’d come across from an old man who’d grown up on the river–the guy’s wife had written down stories as he spoke them–and his guy Pat sounded very interested, and I said I’d make photocopies and bring them to him. He nodded politely. I forgot that Pat couldn’t read. I was thinking I’d like to go over and read them aloud to him, but I wasn’t sure about offering. I don’t know him very well.
My bike, a Cannondale touring bike from the year 1990 made it home just fine with the chair on it, no problem at all, even with my 30 lbs of groceries. Turns out it’s a pretty good chair, but not as good as it looked. The ladder back is a little too straight to be comfortable. Still some visitor might choose the chair over the others because it’s neat and not held together with duct tape.
The phrase “my bike is my truck” comes from a great guy named Richard Sanford who came on one of our bicycle tours in 1987. He lived in NYC and insisted that he could carry anything on his bike that he could carry in a truck, and he had a trailer he pulled behind for the big loads. He wrote a book about bicycle touring. Our tours went to Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Austria, Bulgarian, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Russia.
Here’s the chair.