March 27, 2009

The first day is always the hardest . . .

. . . I hope. So I get up at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, excited for the big day. It’s the day I get to ride the first Rickshaw home from the Racer’s Edge. I decide to ride my bike down to the shop so I won't have to leave my car down there. I put together a route to and from the shop, avoiding all major roads through Brooklyn and Queens. It’s just shy of 10 miles one way. After eating some bacon and eggs, I get my gear together and head out for the shop.
It's a nice morning, around 55 degrees outside, and I am loving the ride. Not too much traffic, sun’s a shining, and I’m going to pick up my baby. I show up to Racer’s Edge at about 10:30 a.m. and get to it. I start doing as much as I can on my own because I know the shop is going to be a mad house today, and Gerald has already called in a couple more guys to come in and help out. Three guys are in the back working nonstop on all the bikes that keep coming in. Gerald and his dad are busy working up front on the floor with Gerald coming in the back to help out his guys and answer my questions. I had been hoping when I showed up to be out of there and on the road by 1 p.m., and when 3 p.m. rolls around I have to really get Gerald to stop what he's doing and get the last little bit done that I need his help with. It takes all my self control (which isn't much) to keep myself from telling off his customers, who look all upset having to wait a half hour to get a flat fixed when I have been waiting for a month to get this thing out the door and on the road.
So we set up the new handle bars and put the gears together, and he checks over my work. After we move the thing out the door, I take it around the block a couple of times to make sure its riding okay. Then I go inside and tell everyone later, and I’m on the road. I’m so excited when I pull up to the first traffic light. It turns green and I roll out into traffic. I’m picking up speed, changing gears and getting comfortable in the seat. I hear people on the front steps and on the side walk yelling out, laughing and screaming, and mostly saying, “What the hell is that thing?” I stop and talk to people and let them know what it is. I ride the frame home because we didn’t get a chance to put the seat and cover on it.
After about six miles something is wrong with my pedal, so I pull over to the side and take a look at it. The arm that is on the crank is slightly bent. This is one of the parts we didn't replace. Well, now we need to. It’s not too bad, so I take off and get about half a block away when I realize I have a flat tire. GREAT! So now I am walking with this giant “Big Wheels” through Queens. It’s starting to get dark and I’ve lost my directions, which serves as preparation since we won’t have directions during most of the trip, just a general direction of where we need to go.
The terrain through Brooklyn is pretty flat, so I’m able to cruise through the streets, but walking through Queens seems to be all uphill. I just keep walking and pushing this 100-pound-plus beast all through Queens. I even see a guy dump car coolant into the street, so I call the cops on him. This isn’t something I usually do, but when I see some ignorant fool pour toxic waste in the street, then screw him. He deserves to have the cops knock on his door and mess with him. Enough said.
The whole way home, when I would get to the top of the hills I would get on the Rick and lean away from the flat, riding it down on two wheels. My first ride and I’m already doing tricks on this beauty. After walking for about two hours I get home, and my calves are on fire from pushing the Rick around. But as I walk it into the garage I have a huge smile on my face, because those first six miles were great, and the the last three weren’t that bad either. Only like 20,000 more to go!

March 11, 2009

Long Road Ahead

So today I decided its time to ride. I have only gone twice this year and it was only for 15 min or so. Today I went for a solid hour. For the first ten I had Cooper with me. He just wanted to take off at a full sprint, way to hard to control the situation with him almost pulling me down the street. So we worked on a nice steady pace. I think with a couple more rides he will get the hang of it. Maybe we will go to the woods this weekend and ride free!
As for the next 50 min it was hard pushing though the streets of Queens, up and down hills, avoiding angry commuters trying to get home, and just watching life grind on around me. I pushed hard until my legs burned, and my lungs about burst. It felt good. But it made me realize I have been doing a whole lot of nothing this winter. With my job I spend a lot of time in the car or at my house, my only form of exercise was when I would take Cooper for a walk. What happened to me I used to be on the go all the time and now I have turned into a lazy unmotivated blob. But no more! I am riding, I'm setting the pace, the dream of this project is coming true everyday. When I talk to people about this adventure they think I'm crazy, but think it is a great idea. It makes me smile and a energy surges through me. It makes me push harder on the bike and on this adventure.

March 10, 2009

A little about Sean, Cooper, and Pierre

This is a little bio on the three of us.
Sean Robinson was born in England and grew up in "The Tall Corn State": Iowa. After High School he joined the US Army and worked as a cook. For five years, he had an amazing experience traveling the world. In April '02 he went back home to spend time with his family. In 2004, Sean and three of his best friends moved to NYC. He attended culinary school and worked in some of the best restaurants in Manhattan. After working in such a stressful environment as a chef for four years, Sean made a drastic change in his profession. He got a job managing Pet Haven, a pet crematory. This allowed him more time to spend with friends, especially his best friend, Cooper.

Cooper is a rescue pitbull from a park in upper Manhattan. He was found on a rainy night when he was about 6 months old with a heavy chain and lock around his neck. A local pet shop owner and her groomer took Cooper in and found him a home in upstate New York. He was living the good life, running around but lacked the discipline he deserved and needed. He was pulled from the farm and was fostered by a dog walker who worked with him daily for months. Then in July 2008 Sean adopted Cooper. He now enjoys spending time at the disc golf courses, slobbering on tennis balls, camping, and pulling Sean on his skateboard.

Pierre Larochelle was born in New England and grew up in the "Live Free or Die" state. Back in Ninety-Eight he moved to 1864 67th Street over in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. He developed into a bartending, card loving, cigarette smoker that eventually ventured out to Las Vegas, Nevada in one of those cold winter months of 2008. Out in the desert, in one of those warm mirages, he spent three months living with the heathens before finding an eight foot bicycle that some guy didn't want; apparently. After sprucing the bike up he took it on the road for a journey of some kind. It took him thru the deserts of Nevada and Southern California on into the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice. Before returning back to New York he took the bicycle a little bit further; out of curiousity. It led him to San Diego and on down into Tijuana. Once in Tijuana he kept on going. He pedaled all the way along the Pacific Coast of Mexico passing through every town along the way, hopping from beach to beach, all the way to Salina Cruz, Oaxaca. With more interest in living, rather than dying he put the bike down and headed back to New York. He is currently on the Appalachian Trail for another journey of some kind and plans to be back in New York for the Rickshaw Adventure in August.