(Visual: Animated short. Yellow men’s Schwinn mountain bike wih no human rider, but a pair of Nikes harnessed to the bike petals. There is never a human rider. The bike is a character who stands and rides alone. This is our Free Range Bike, named Couscous. There is a sidekick, a small tree frog native to the NorthWest, by the name of Barista, — details on her to follow).
This is the blog of the encounters made by Couscous as he rides around Portland generating wind energy. He is in training for the Hood To Coast Bicycle marathon but has a phobia about crossing bridges, causing bridge panic, which hampers his training.
In one episode, Couscous is so overcome with a panic atack over the Hawthorn Bridge he has to stop and hang onto the side rails — which draws a crowd of stopped cars who think he is suicidal and going to jump, and they try to talk him down, a misunderstanding which only worsens the panic attack. Humurous resolve to the situation.
Couscous is madly and deeply in love with a tree frog named Barista, since he met her six weeks ago while she was napping in a coffee cup made from recycled hemp at a kiosk table in Pioneer Square.
Couscous and Barista share a passion for opera, but bikes are not allowed in The Schnitz, so in one episode, Couscous signs up to be trained as a Therapy Bike so he can gain access inside the concert hall and take Barista on a date to Rigoletto.
Barista travels around on the handlebars of the bike (Couscous) and takes notes on the ecological health of Portland’s city ecosystems. (As a frog, she is a natural baramoeter of the health of the ecosystem — think bus exhaust — if the frog doesn’t mutate, the ecosysem is fine. She hopes to get her data published someday in a local scientific journal.
In one episode, Barista makes a daring on-site investigation into the spout of a drinking fountain to check on the flouride content of the water, overdoses, and comes out and collapses — which is when Couscous saves her by performing CPR with his air pump.
Couscous is highly civic-minded and in one episode covers his front and back tires with wads of chewed Bubblicious so as to pick up cigarette butts and assorted detritus off the streets of Portland as he rides around.
In one episode, a stubborn homeless man wants his cig butt back and engages in a verbal altercation with Couscous in which somehow Henry David Thereau is quoted. Couscous returns the cig butt but stalks the man for a day — as a matter of revenge — at the end of which, they call a truce on the library steps and share a novel together.
As part of his vigorous marathon training regime, Couscous makes a daily run up the hill to the Portland Zoo. Each day is an alphabet letter day (A, B,C,..etc..) and he counts how many bricks there are with donator’s names beginnning with the letter of the day.
So far he is up to M, and out of all the donators with names beginning with the A’s to the M’s, the most contributors to the Friends of The Zoo are the E’s. Second, are the L’s. He suspects this will change when he reaches the S’s or the R’s.
When he reaches the Z’s, he will move onto the plaques/bricks of The Schnitz contributors and count the highest-frequency donators’ names.
In one episode, he becomes side-tracked by the dilemna of hyphenated names — does one count the letter of the first or second name in the hyphenation? This perplexes him and causes a bout of insomnia in which Barista is tasked to spend nights with him at a college english department bookstore researching a stack of books on the rules of modern grammar.
He falls off the deep end of sleep deprivation and spends all their savings on an Amazon rare first edition “Miss Pride’s Guidelines of Etiquette and Social Status Regarding the Use of The Hyphen in Marriages of Distinction,” (circa 1890). This is the episode in which Barista confronts Couscous on his obsessive-compulsive tendencies and sends him to a recovery group.
Couscous has a GPS nav system which he has named Ingrid, and Barista is fiercely jealous of her. In one episode, Barista spills the coffee out of the mid-bar cup holder, causing Ingrid’s battery to temprarily short-circuit. This leads to a day of Couscous giving Barista the silent treatment, as he believes it was an intentional assault.
Couscous hangs out at Girlz Will Be Boyz Bike Shop, where he gets his tune-up massages and deeply inhales air pump puffs on a regular basis. This is his bike-cave, and Barista is never included in this private world where Couscous can reach private conscious contact with his own people and heritage.
Free Range Bike episodes go on and on in this fashion………..
by Heidi D. Hansen, FreeRangeBikecopyright2014. Email her at Ad.Dogs.Unleashed@gmail.com for more character development, episode outlines and themes for “Free Range Bike.”
Free Range Bike, Roaming The Weirderlness, Portland, Oregon 2014
Portland is ‘The Land Of’ therapists and recovery, so it is fitting that I should open this blog by reminding us that Sigmund Freud defined mental health as “the ability to work and to love.” Which covers just about everything that can be done in Portland.
That’s why I love riding in Portland — I just fit in.
And which is why I don’t mind confessing to you, supportive readers, that I am a bicycle. A Free Range Bike. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, with the freedom of rain – gaurd treads, wind energy at my back, and permission to roam the Weirderlness.
Oh, although I have no human rider, I have one or two more important things — a pair of Nike Airs strapped into my pedal harnesses so they don’t slip in the rain. Mango Yellow Schwinn, with a GPS nav pad named Ingrid. She is wrapped in gortex couture.
I love pedalling around Portland, people-watching and gleaning unusual stories for my blog. Oh — my name? Couscous.
If I were to place a single’s ad in a Portland weekly, it would likely read something like, “SYB seeks community-minded discussion partner who shares a passion for tread on wet asphalt. Must be civic-conscious, attend gatherings and pick up trash around the city using chewed Bubblicious stuck to bike tires. Preferences include a willingness to go three blocks out of the way to avoid riding over a native NW plant.”
But there is no need to place such an ad, because yesterday I found my true love, and am smitten down to my sea sponge handle-bar mitten.
I named her Barista. She is a spotted tree frog I met in the bottom of a recycled hemp coffee cup at an outdoor table at the “Where Have U Bean All My Life?” coffee kiosk near Pioneer Square.
She’s marvellous. She rides with her face to the wind atop my handlbars and takes copious mental notes of the environmental health of the city. A frog is the perfect barometer of mental — I mean ecological — health. (Think bus exhaust, etc.). If a frog can travel through an area and not mutate, the situation is pretty good. She hopes to get her data published in a local science journal someday.
I am somewhat concerned, however, about the risk level she is willing to use to gather information. This morning she went down into the spigot of a sidewalk drinking water fountain to check on the flouride (etc.) content, and she overdosed. Almost didn’t make it out, and collapsed when she did. I was only able to save her using CPR with my air pump.
While I deeply love Barista, I also have a concern about her jealousy toward Ingrid. Last night there was a spill — the botanical fermented orange juice in my cup holder spilled onto Ingrid and caused two hours of battery disruption.
Barista swears it was an accident, but we didn’t speak for an hour, while I waited in hopes she would confess to me the intentionality of the matter.
But today we are back on track, after coffee at the “Girlz Will Be Boyz” bike shop. That is my bike-cave, where I find my private conscious connection to my universal bike tribe. After a few deeply inhaled puffs on a compressed air pump, my head is clear on Barista’s motives and after seeing her dedication at the drinking fountain today, I am certain of her ethics.
Did I mention I am in training for the Hood to Coast marathon? Barista is helping me get over my fear of bridges so I can enter this year. The last time I crossed the Hawthorne, the panic attack was so severe I had to pull over and grip the railing.
A dozen cars stopped — they thought I was going to jump — to talk me down, the embarrassment of which only worsenned the attack.
It was resolved. An SUV with a spare bike rack gave me a lift over the bridge. Will attempt again next week, with Barista guiding me through. She is very calming.
Right now I’ve got something else more pressing to attend to. I want to surprise Barista with tickets for a date to see the Portland Opera this weekend. Rigoletto. But The Shnitz won’t allow bikes inside the seating area. So I have signed up for classes to become a trained and registered Therapy Bike, so they have to let me in. And Barista can see the performance from my water bottle.
I must sign off now — there is a homeless guy chasing me, trying to get back his cigarette butt, off my rear tire, where I picked it up using a chewed wad of Bubblicious. I like to keep our Portland streets free of such detritis and debris, but the guy may have a point, as he is shouting Henry David Thoreau quotes at me. Perhaps it would be best to call a truce, return his ciggy butt and discuss Walden (was it made for the mind or for greeting cards?) on the library steps.
More later —
Couscous, Free Range Bike
(copyright2014FreeRangeBikebyHeidiDHansen. All rights reserved. No reproductions without author consent, please).