Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Across Town on the Bromp: first stop Powells Books

Today I took my maiden voyage downtown on my Brompton. Not only am I not slower than other bikes, I find myself on several occasions rolling faster! Is that possible? If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know what a slow-mo I am. I was sure that the tiny wheels would mean a sacrifice in efficiency. Am I just extra excited or something? And the few gradual hills felt no more difficult than on my regular bike. Even the Lovejoy Street approach to the Broadway Bridge was a snap.

I went to Powell's Bookstore. No browsing today, just a meetup with someone in the cafe area. So far I haven't dared leave the bike out of my sight -- it's way too new. If it's going to get stolen, that's going to have to happen much, much later, because now I just couldn't deal. Too cruel. So at this point I don't even have a lock for it.

I popped the back wheel under, which is what you do to let the bike stand on its own (it serves as a kickstand), also to begin the folding process. In this state the bike takes up about as much length as one of those SUV baby strollers everyone uses nowadays, only much narrower. I tipped it back on its wee rollers, darted into Powell's Couch Street entrance, and rolled it down the wheel ramp, which no one saw because of the partition railing along it. When I popped out the other end I was in full view of the cashiers, the main information kiosk, and the used book buyers. I zipped right across that lobbyish area and disappeared into the elevator, emerging in the yellow room where I wove through the fantasy shelves to the cafe -- all the while half expecting to hear some uptight rule marm bray that annoying sound "Ma'm! Maaaaaaaaaaaaam!" followed by an adamant "No bikes in the store!"

Didn't happen. No one said anything. Not even in the cafe (which is World Cup) did anyone express annoyance as I snaked the bike between a few tables to reach the person I was meeting. Then I collapsed it down to demonstrate it to my friend.

Later I carried it back out of the store in its collapsed state, and began unfolding it outside the doors. I noticed two guys watching me, who waved and smiled when they saw me see them, and
called over "We're waiting to watch you turn that into a bike!" and "Just add water!"

At this point, I still love showing off with it. Snap, snap, snap, and off I go. It's like some kind of 007 seven contraption that comes out of an attache case. Or Maxwell Smart's shoe phone. This is my shoe bike.

Will the thrill wear thin? I've been on the MAX with it several times already. Did I think having this thing on the train was going to help me isolate myself from the teeming masses yearning to breathe free? Uh.....More about that soon.

Hint: this could be worse than having a goofy dog.



At 11:50 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Oh, I'm so glad it's working out. (Except for the goofy dog aspect, of course :->)

At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's wrong with having a goofy dog? Some of my best freinds have goofy dogs. I think it will continue to be nifty and fun, but you may find that you don't always have the patience to answer everyone's questions (I have the same experience, though mine is sort of the opposite of a folder). Val

At 11:43 AM, Blogger kate gawf said...

Goofy dog's great if you wanto be all super over-the-top friendly with every tom dick and mary that crosses your path. I can do that for some of the time (otherwise how could I stand living on the west coast of the US?) but what about when my grumpy-european influence kicks in and I ain't in the mood?

So, what are you riding Val -- a tallbike or something? That would be the only bike that would draw more attention than this. Or maybe you ride a unicycle?

On the goofy car front, no doubt these first few Smartcars we're starting to see around Portland are getting the same reaction.

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kate: Check it out: http://tinyurl.com/6n84yo
I do try to be patient, answering the same questions over and over, but you're right, there are times when I'm just not in the mood. At that point, a nice smile and a quick "Gotta run!" serve to facilitate a speedy exit. What else are wheels for? Val


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