A few days after arriving in Corvallis, I’m making the awkward transition into “normal” life. Back working the floor at the restaurant, reconnecting with friends, trying to find my place in this little town, in this life “off the road”. Part of me is rebelling, digging in my heels, not wanting to be here. A smaller part of me than before. A friend asks me where home is, and I point to myself, to my heart. “Here”.
Home is also in Corvallis. And on the mountain outside of Philomath. And with friends and family in Portland. And on my bicycle, where ever my travels take me in the future. And home is here, in this moment. I’ve spent too much of my life in regret, running from the past, or fearful of perils which may or may not await me. Taking stock, paying attention to the present, finding peace in the still point. Breathe. Center.
Restaurant ownership provides ample opportunities for diversion from this awareness. Aka stressors, crises, drama. One such item is a broken wash arm in the dishwasher. Luckily, a good friend of mine also happens to be a crack mechanic and welder. I call Richard up, and he says if I bring the broken part over at 3pm he might find time to weld it back together.
When I arrive, Richard is busy working on several other projects with a helper. I show him the part, and settle into a conversation which turns out to last hours. I’m not in a hurry, not like before. This is new. I’m enjoying the wait. Longer time available to hear Richard’s stories. He seems to notice, because he begins to tell me of his accident.
1980, a perfect day. Near to selling Rainbow Cyclery, over on Philomath Boulevard, near 53rd. I barely remember the spot, Junior in high school at the time. Richard and a friend are cycling down the curves on Highland. A driver cuts too close.
Moments later a girl, a Junior at Crescent Valley High, is also driving over the hill, notices two cyclists on the ground, a crowd surrounding. One is doing OK, the other not so well. The girl had just finished CPR training so she could help her grandmother if ever needed help. Now, Richard needed help.
He awakes in the hospital. The ER doctor asks his friends, who’d been holding vigil all night, “What did you do?” Richard is in much better shape that last night, and won’t need brain surgery after all. Miraculous healing, even a staunch agnostic cannot deny. Richard says he thinks his entire perspective changed, from the time he was under, from the healing attention of his friends.
“I don’t know why I’m telling you this,” he says, as we ready the part for welding. I’m grateful for the story, for the time browsing his shop. Amazing bicycle engineering here, the Quadra-Ped, a recumbent which is operated by both leg and arm pedals. The gearing and steering mechanisms are most impressive. Even more, the Quadra-Ped tandem, named “KaHoots”. This is an amazing truck, two triples, two cassettes, total of over a hundred gearing possibilities? The combination of clutches, brakes, four sets of pedals. This must be a blast to take blazing down the road.
Sparks are flying. The welding is done in a few minutes. I’m glad to get the part fixed, and for cheap! A trade of a “Team FireWorks” bridge pedal jersey, a gift certificate from the restaurant. Clean dishes once more. I’m even happier having spent the afternoon hanging out with Richard, sharing in the storytelling, hearing tales of tragedy and miracle. Another reason I’m glad to be back in Corvallis. The place where some of my friends live. I’m thinking Richard and I need to take that tandem out on the road together, to see how fast it really goes, to be in KaHoots!