By Paul Guttenberg
The desperate call from the airport was a last-minute plea for help. Broken-down at the side of the road, the Busycle sat in a parking lot in the East Bay. The support vehicle was out of commission. A storm was coming. It was getting dark. Most likely, locusts would gather next.
There is nothing quite like a disaster in the making to attract the weak of mind. Calls were made, a rental trailer obtained, and yours truly was off to the East Bay in an attempt to rescue the Busycle. Helping hands were promised and all equipment needed would be waiting.
Arriving at the yard, it turned out that the proprietor now demanded compensation for storing the Busycle, or he would sell it. The bill, not surprisingly, was outrageous. All those high hopes were to end with the Busycle held hostage and threatened with an ignominious final journey to the scrap heap.
Many calls ensued, a variety of cycling enthusiasts, human-powered artists and other assorted ne’er-do-wells lent their voices. Soon, a local television station became interested. Busycle held hostage, film at 11. The corporate district office for the franchisee holding the Busycle did not welcome this prospect. They would provide a trailer, but the Busycle had to be gone that afternoon.
Alone in the pouring rain, this reporter rushed to the storage yard, equipped with an underpowered truck, a come-along and a complete lack of judgment. Hooking up the auto transport trailer in the rain was enjoyable enough, crawling underneath to attach wiring and ensuring all the chains were in place. Then it was off to load the Busycle, alone.
It was analogous to watching your crazy uncle at the family picnic starting the barbecue. First he piles on a huge mountain of charcoal until it is spilling off the sides of the barbecue. Then he grabs a 5-gallon can of gasoline and begins emptying it as a starter.
He puts the can down, pulls out a paper matchbook, and starts reaching into the coals. No matter how hard you try, you cannot stop yourself from watching. You also do not want get anywhere close to the impending conflagration.
That’s what it was like in the yard. Alone in a thunderstorm, armed with a come-along and a wooden block, I was attempting to raise a 1,500-pound human-powered behemoth onto a flatbed trailer behind a small truck. Everyone watched and no one came forward.
Luckily, intimate knowledge of a few magical phrases that cannot be repeated in a family-oriented publication such as this provided just the edge needed to get the job done. After some time, the Busycle was on Interstate 80 headed toward Davis.
The uncontrollable fishtailing didn’t begin in earnest until 45 mph, so it wasn’t really a problem until the downhill runs. Climbing a hill, school buses would roar past, young faces pressed to the windows in awe. Descending, large semis would put on their emergency flashers and remain hundreds of yards behind as we gracefully remained within two lanes or so, mostly.
Shaken, stirred and pulverized, we finally reached Davis and, with the help of friends, offloaded the Busycle. There is no telling how long it will remain in our community, but when it leaves it will be pulled by another.
Until it leaves our community, it needs care and attention. At this point, it is still parked outside, exposed to the elements. While all the parts are recycled and relatively hardy, the winter rains still take their toll. A local business owner has been kind enough to allow me to store it in his parking area, but something covered would be much more suitable. I remain hopeful that I will discover a spot to help preserve this unique treasure out of the elements.
The ongoing mechanical needs are something I deal with as my schedule allows, and so far I have been able to keep it in running order. Volunteers are always appreciated to assist with upkeep. I hope it will be preserved and cared for sufficiently to allow the Davis community to enjoy it this coming Picnic Day.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you care to help.