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Post  ChasingSanity on Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:50 am

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
I met Pamela Frothingham 6 weeks ago. I typed up a wonderful, funny, short tale to share with all of you. It did not survive rebooting my computer. I wish it did, my memories of those first few days are not as bright and crisp as they once were.

How I met Pam (from the beginning): I met this couple outside the REI store in Boston, the guy - Lu, asked how the XtraCycle was to ride and did I need any welding or braising done? Sure! But, I had to go to Westport to do it. Where was that? South, along the Massachusetts coast. Good. So, I made my way back south. I stopped off at the Silva's house in New Bedford. They wrote “gsilva1997 on Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:08 pm” in My Journey. It was good seeing them again. I was required to write on their bathroom wall. I wrote small because I knew I would be long-winded. I continued on to Lu's house – the guy I met outside REI.

We went for a bike ride to the best place to walk his cute, little, black dog. We collected some wild mushrooms along the way. We got back and started cooking dinner. He wondered where his dog was – normally underfoot. He went looking, a minute later I heard a scream of anguish. I turned off the cooking dinner and tried to find my way out of his house in the dark to be whatever help I could. Lu's dog had gotten under the fence, onto the road in front of his house and been run over by a car. His cute, little black dog was dead. She looked like she was asleep except one eye ball was hanging loosely.

He cried and cried. She was the first dog he had raised from a puppy. He trained her every day. She knew the fence was off limits. “Why did she have to die?” I did as best I could – being near but quiet, accepting his pain and loss. Emily, his lady love, was on her way, driving down from Boston to be with him. I consoled his neighbors as they came by and told them what this was all about.

Some moments are a perfect life-lesson, forever etched in your mind. Lu grieving, holding his much loved and cared for dog's carcass in his arms is perfectly tragic. I feel ashamed because I feel lucky I witnessed such compassion and anguish. He was not afraid to grieve or be vulnerable.

I slept on a spare bed downstairs. I discarded my expectations about getting my stuff done – shower, laundry, bike welding/upgrades. I slept poorly, worrying over Lu and Emily. Lu actually worked with me on my bike the next day, for most of the day. We did a great job making the welded together bike and XtraCycle two separate, bolted together items.

They left a little later. I set up my tent in their yard, next to the dog's burial mound. It was the only place in their yard big enough for my tent.

I finished up the bike work and packed up.

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Post  ChasingSanity on Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:56 pm

I rode off. Did my bike make that noise, was something rubbing, did I forget something? I pulled over and tried to figure out what that was driving me crazy. A tiny noise for a few seconds is all the warning you get before something rubbing against the tire puts a hole in your tire and inner tube; not paying attention to a tiny noise is a bad idea.

There I was, innocently minding my own business when a car pulls over in front of me on the side of the road. This lady skeptically asks me “Are you really riding your bicycle to Australia?” I love the “BikeToAustralia” sign on my backpack.

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
That was six weeks ago. When Pamela first saw me, this guy with all this stuff packed onto his strange looking bicycle, she thought I was homeless, like that local guy that picks up beer cans from the side of the road. Maybe the poor, homeless guy needed help?

I told her a little bit about my plans and worked a little bit on my bike at the same time. I started talking more and working less. Smile We talked a lot, for at least an hour. She was getting sore and tired from standing. I suggested a walk. But, her female cat was in a pet carrier in the car (she was coming back from the veterinarian). I could carry her cat, no it was not heavy.

We talked some more and explored an old factory, maybe a fish processing plant that was now a furniture factory? She said it was a little scary. Charming, eh?

We got back to the car, she had to go, I wanted to talk with her more, later. We traded phone numbers, she did not have a cell phone... she was a primitive? Yep, you know the kind. I continued on to New Bedford where the friend I met in Provincetown, George and Kelly, live.

I had a fine time with George and Kelly and wrote an epic story on their epic bathroom wall. It was required of me by Kelly, the boss lady of the house. I called Pamela the next day, when I was ready to leave. We could meet at her house and figure out what to do from there. I asked if I could sleep the night at her house. (Ask the friendly local about accommodations.) She hesitantly agreed. I rode on back to Westport.

My bike broke down; the rear dérailleur is bolted onto the bike. I tried adjusting the dérailleur but the bolt broke instead. I stepped on my glasses in the process. Great, I was riding up and down all those little hills for 10 miles with 225 pounds of gear in the hardest gear. My bike really needed to be on a weight loss program. I was in a rush to meet someone, a lady, no less and it might be faster to push my bike than ride it.

I finally met Pamela for a second time, on the road. She led me back to her home. We talked for a long time. I got a shower and laundry was promised. I slept on the couch downstairs. I was delighted. I felt like a once-domesticated animal given food and shelter for the night.

We talked more the next day. Pamela was still feeling sore from the other day,offered to rub her feet. I teased, saying it would be a purely platonic and medicinal massage. I did my best to help, to heal and to talk with my hands. I talk much better with my hands than I do with my mouth She liked what I said. Smile

We have been together for almost two months now. Living closely with someone new is difficult. We are learning how to be respectful of a very important and sexy stranger who we suddenly care a great deal about. There is no separate room in Pamela's home she can go to to get away from me or me from her. I often go for walks, ride my bicycle or get a ride from Pamela 10 miles into New Bedford to give us both breathing room and time alone.

A few days ago, we took my bicycle to Scotties Westport bicycle shop I needed new brake pads in back (the front brakes Must do Something, but I have yet to figure out what), replace any worn ball bearings, get precision adjustments on my brakes and shifters and true the wheels. A few weeks ago, I put a big dent in my nearly indestructible 48 spoke rear wheel. ;( The backup rear wheel I have been carrying around for months was finally useful, butt it needed to be trued. Oh, the screw holding the cable guide under the bottom bracket fell off and needed to be replaced. In a word, I needed a tuneup.

The price seemed a little high; $70 but Massachusetts, along the coast especially, is expensive. I called a few days later; he stopped working because the work required was not worth the money. Good by me, when could I pick up my bicycle? The fee was less than half of the $70 previously mentioned. But, my bike needed a lot of work to be ridable.

The XtraCycle frame was cracked in a new place, centrally located and maximum load bearing. I needed to get that fixed or separated from the bike. The rear brakes always had issues because the cables were so long. I use springs I scavenged to keep the rear brakes pushed apart. The springs were sprung and needed replacing. If I removed the XtraCycle... I would have a lighter weight bike with common bike issues – easier to fix.

But, the rear brakes on the bike frame are U-brakes, they are hard to find and don't do much braking. The coupling Lu and I made before I met Pamela did not allow the rear wheel to fit on the bike without the XtraCycle. I had to use the XtraCycle with this frame for now but the XtraCycle needed to be repaired.

I was only planning to use the XtraCycle a couple months, until we go to the Caribbean. Major repairs are not worth the effort. It is time to find a new home for my bike. My bike is part of my image. The way my bike looks, especially with the fully loaded XtraCycle back end, is an identifying feature, it is part of who I am seen as. I feel like I am redefining who I am. I will sorely miss that part of my self-image.


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