My last post designated the Camp Nine Italian Bar loop as my ride for Bike Your Park Day, and it started out well this morning–prepared and on time at the main Columbia State Park parking lot. As expected for a last minute effort for a hard ride to the boonies, nobody else showed, so I made a trip around the park to make sure nobody was waiting somewhere. I did see folks setting up for the Fiddle and Bango Contest and Poison Oak Show and six people with bikes–the guy with the cruiser who cleans up in the morning at the St. Charles Saloon, Doc John who plays the penny whistle in town coming in from Big Hill on his touring bike, me, and two guys on road bikes pretty clearly not going out to Camp Nine with those tires.
I also saw a man sitting on one of the tables with his bike. I’ve seen him riding around Columbia on his road bike with his prosthetic lower leg. This was the first time I’ve seen him when I’ve been able to stop, so I sat down and talked with him. Brian is homeless, lost his leg to an infection, and had a stroke which has affected his right hand. The wire between his brifters allows him to shift his rear derailleur with his left hand. I’m guessing he uses the in-line brake levers for all his braking–both levers in one hand. He’s clearly working on staying as self-sufficient as he can, and his bike is essential for him to get around town and to Sonora. With his prosthesis he can ride much better than he can walk any distance, and his bike mods should be studied as adaptive technology.
I told Brian about the Motherlode Bike Coalition and that we are working to improve conditions for biking in Tuolumne County. His immediate response was, “To get shoulders on the roads?” Yes and more. I asked how he keeps his bike going. He knows how to fix it, and he has tools at a friends house, but he doesn’t have a place to work on it. I left him my number in case he needs that place.
Afterwards, I went home to write this and a membership post for the MLBC. With less than two miles ridden, I’d already been to a park, and the Camp Nine ride didn’t seem so important anymore. If you see Brian out there riding, give him some space on the road.