Two people I met this week while riding my bike

Published 2015-12-18

After dropping my kids off at school this morning I was riding back through outer SE Portland and a woman riding slooowly the opposite direction flagged me down.

“Hey do you know anything about bikes?”

“Yeah, a little”

So we pulled off the side of the street and checked her bike over. It was missing a front derailer (and front brake), the chain was jammed between the middle and upper chainrings, and the rear derailer (a fine early 80s SunTour) was on the verge of falling off. I tightened up the rear derailer attachment bolt and worked the chain back onto the small ring. We worked through how to work the brakes, and figured out the best gear for her to pedal in without cross chaining OR throwing the chain into the spokes. While doing this we learned a little bit about each other.

Her name is Megan and she has a son named Paul (!) whom she had just dropped off at school. She spent $5 of her last $10 on this bike yesterday because her other bike had been stolen. Her $5 rig was a screaming bargain, despite the missing front derailer and brake. It was a sleek mid-80s trek racing bike, nearly scraped free of paint through wear, but in good condition otherwise, with some new parts (tires, brake levers) that suggested it was someone’s abandoned (stolen?) “project” bike.

Anyway we got her up and running, we collectively admired the Souders Yuba Mundo (which seemed like massive overkill at that moment) shook hands and parted ways.

On my way home Monday I was heading south on the Macadam St. sidewalk — not my favorite thing but construction on the Sellwood has eliminated all other routes there. It was pouring buckets and visibility was nada. At a parking lot driveway I noticed a SOOOPER fancy BMW pulling across the sidewalk, but couldn’t see the driver through the tinted windows. (This is a HUGE danger sign).

Just as I was pulling in front of the car it edged out into the street, knocking me over. This was about a 3mph collision so honestly NBD. (Damage: 1 scraped elbow) I picked myself up off the pavement and motioned the driver out of the car…“all right lets get this over with”

A young fella climbed out of the zillion dollar BMW and was immediately apologetic. (Although he did throw out the “sorry man I didn’t see you” excuse which Does. Not. Cut. It. If you can’t see you can’t drive, period.) Anyway I was more mad at myself than him, and he (rightly) saw that he was in the wrong. He was very concerned for my health & whether the bike was working OK. But like I said it was NBD

I photo’d his ID, he photo’d my bike, and I went to the back of the car to photo the plate and noticed it had dealer plates. I said “do you work at [nearby car dealership]?" (This was just as the shop was closing, it was an easy guess.) “Yeah…”

Well suddenly I was feeling sorry for him. There was a big scratch across the hood of his boss’ BMW. I knew right then I wasn’t calling any cops or insurance companies. My new friend had much bigger problems.

Anyway we shook hands and introduced ourselves to one another and he said “I’m sorry we met in these circumstances,” which, ya know, so was I.

I write a lot about why I ride bikes but I really take this one for granted: bikes move at human(e) speeds and yield human(e) interactions with my fellow humans.