Saturday, December 01, 2007

Major Taylor Ride

If I wasn't so darn well suited for my job at the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, it's a pretty safe bet that I'd be working at Bike Works. Dara and her crew not only do terrific work, they consistently demonstrate just how much fun it can be to change people's lives through bicycles. Every time I volunteer at Bike Works or work with them on a project, I'm reminded that the velorution is happening right now. Whether it's teaching kids to fix stuff or getting people rolling on rigs that cost less than what most folks spend on a monthly car payment, the lessons are the same: this is what's possible, this is what's practical and this is how you do it.

This week three of the Bike Works folks, Jayanthi, Joe and Melanie, all have birthdays. This is also the week that the great cyclist Marshal "Major" Taylor was born, so it just made sense to have a celebratory ride. Friday night, November 30th, 2007 a bunch of us gathered at Bike Works for little off-key singing of Happy Birthday and a ride up to a restaurant in Seattle's central district.

It's 36 degrees Fahrenheit as we gather in the cool air. It's cool enough that as we discuss techniques for keeping feet warm (slightly bigger shoes and double socks, one pair of which is wool), our breathing fogs the air. On occasions such as this we all naturally check out each other's bikes. My favorite of the bunch (excluding my own Red-Bike-of-Courage) is a neat old orange Peugeot set up as a fixie with cowhorn bars. This turns out to be Melanie's rig but right now, a couple minutes before take-off, she's realized that it's dark and she doesn't have lights.

As Red Green says, "if the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy." I can't let Melanie go riding with just her 100 kilowatt smile for protection and thanks to the Bicycle Alliance Get Lit program, I've got a spare set of lights in my handlebar bag. Melanie tries to protest, "but those lights are for the needy..." "And that's why I'm carrying a set around, to give out to some needy unlit cyclist," I tell her, "right now, that's you. Call it a birthday present or later when you get yourself some lights, pass these on to somebody more needy than you. But right now," I say firmly, "we're lighting you up."

In addition to having the best lights of the group, I'm also the guy with the working camera. Tina takes the group photo of the gang. See the guy with the bright reflective sash and helmet near the center of the photo? That's me.

It's a nice ride but I do notice that a bunch of my Bike Works buddies are a bit too black in their bundling. I'll have to talk to Dara and Melanie about scheduling a Get Lit fashion show at Bike Works sometime soon.

I have to get home to Issaquah, so I wish everybody a safe ride and split off from the group at the I-90 bridge.

At home I read more about Major Taylor, a truly inspirational fellow. This website:

has a lot of great information about Major Taylor including the final chapter of his autobiography here:

1 comment:

Rides Chair said...

Its not surprising that the best lit is a randoneur.