|by William Carlos Williams|
I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold
For years I resisted selling my blue R40 Vision recumbent with underseat steering. The bike I called, "Joni Mitchell Blue," had taken me from my despair at never being able to row again to the joy of a whole new world of cycling. In the fall of 2005, I think, I walked into Coventry Cycle where younger and older men with aprons wielding tire irons and metric wrenches, looked up from bike stands and greasy chains, and escorted me through recumbents and trikes and collapsible bikes. They talked technical, which I loved, even if I didn't have a clue what they were saying. And I tried out a long-wheel base (wobbly) and a short-wheel base (too cool), and eventually bought Joni.
All fall and winter she took me through traffic and sleet and sloppy sidewalks. At lights I toppled over, not quite managing to get my foot up to the pedal in time or slipping off. At Hagg Lake in the dead of winter, I made figure-eights at the pullouts on tops of rollers as prizes for making it up the hills, and as practice for turning, which seemed like sure ways to buck myself off the little sportscar of a recumbent. With the handlebars under the seat, I wanted a seat belt to keep me on the bike. For the first four months of riding, I fell almost every time I rode. But I learned. And Joni got me where I needed to go (and back).
After riding Seattle-to-Portland the next summer and many events afterwards, I needed a bigger front wheel, needed to ride higher on the road. I moved to a Bacchetta with regular sized wheels. Her name is "Iris," big and yellow. Her picture is on this blog. But Joni has been my backup, my winter indoor trainer, and I haven't been able to let her go.
Until last weekend. One day on Craigslist, and a very sweet man responded whose third recumbent had been stolen, and he commuted every day on his recumbent, the exact same kind, even though the manufacturer has long gone out of business. He arrived, and we found our names were chosen for similar reasons: Gray, what is between black and white. That's his first name and my last name, both chosen.
When he took Joni for a spin, she looked like an extension of his body. She fit. They are a good pair. And I found her old pedals and left them on my porch last night for him. He exchanged plums for them, so sweet and so cold.