Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Kindness of Bike People -- A Typewriter Tale

While I do most of my writing on laptop computers, my phone and now my new Android tablet (more about that in some other post), I recently got an urge to pound out some words via an older machine, an old manual typewriter. This desire was sparked by seeing an old typewriter in a thrift store near my home, but that machine was a bit too big and too new for my purposes. I began my quest for the old with a more modern query, I asked on Twitter for suggestions as to where I might find an old typewriter

Jolene (@mujozen) from Eugene, Oregon is someone I know only through Twitter. and she suggested I check out the Goodwill store. When I reported back that the Seattle Goodwill only had electric typewriters, she replied that she had an old Royal typewriter that I could have, but I'd need to find some way of getting the typewriter from Eugene. Again, I asked on Twitter, this time looking for someone who might be headed from Eugene to the Seattle area. This time my friend Madi (@familyride) replies that her friend Elisabeth (@epsnider) is visiting family in Eugene and could maybe help out. Elisabeth, who I don't know at all, immediately replies that sure, she'd be happy to pick up the typewriter but she'll be camping down in Oregon for a while so would it be OK if I wait a bit for the typewriter. Of course this is OK. People I barely know or don't know at all are getting me a typewriter.

And this is the point of this little story. There are great people in the world. Jolene, Madi and Elisabeth all went out of their way to extend some kindness towards me. Jolene told me she may tap me at some point in the future for some bike repair or advice and Madi says her kindness was "nothing". Elisabeth at least lets me buy her and her kids something at a Seattle coffee shop. Kindness is never nothing. I owe all these three women more than I can repay, but I'll try. Jolene said she'd only pass her typewriter on to "a real writer." I'll do what I can to earn her trust.

Last week was the great typewriter hand off. I rode my bike from Issaquah to Seattle. Christine's pal the heron was keeping watch at the Bellevue Slough.

I noticed some new art in the I-90 bike tunnel.

I checked out the parking squid's new location by the Seattle waterfront.

I walked my bike across the Ballard Locks.

Elisabeth and I met up at Firehouse Coffee in Ballard. I think she was as excited as I was.

I got my first look at the machine I'd come to think of as "The Royal Baby."

Elisabeth and her kids waved goodbye as I loaded the typewriter onto my bike.

On the way home I stopped off for a visit with my friend Chris Cameron at Rosebud Custom Bicycle Builds. Chris is quite possibly the most meticulous mechanic in Seattle and he loves what he does, so we always have plenty to chat about. He sees the typewriter on the back of my bike and asks about it.

"Can you still get ribbons?"

"Amazon," I replied.

"Of course. But why a typewriter?"

"Great American novel. Something to be said to pounding words straight to paper."

"I get it. What's the novel?"

I gave him my jacket blurb, "He's a hyper-intelligent, telepathic raccoon. She's a homeless bike mechanic. Together they fight crime."

"Oh man, you gotta write that."

"I know," I replied, "Hence, the typewriter."

"One more thing..." Chris said.

"Yeah?" I said.

"Put me in the book."

"I'll see what I can do.'

Chris also gave me one of his very nifty Rosebud bike shirts. The image on it shows Eddy Merckx working on his bike.

It was a beautiful day for riding.

In August in the Pacific Northwest, bike fuel grows right alongside the trail.

As if the day hadn't already given me enough, I found a roll of electrical tape on the roadside.

There are a lot of great people out in the world and a lot of great places to ride. Get out there and enjoy it.

Right now, I've got some typing to do.

By the way, the typewriter works great, except for the backspace key. I think that's OK, it's like the machine is telling me to push onward.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah, WA USA
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