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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Man lives in solar-powered bike mod for 30 years (pics)

Okay, so I was at work today, in the back room, fixing up my Mom's laptop, when I hear voices coming from our little parking lot. I went out in case if they were customers, and then for some reason checked out the door. That's when I find a few cars parked, and some guys hanging around. But what stood out the most was this:

"What is this strange contraption?" you ask. At first I (jokingly) thought it was a time machine. One of the guys aweing at it said it's something you'll never come across anywhere else, for sure. It actually happens to be both the home and mean of transportation for a nomad.

Thankfully, because all I had was my cell phone and my broken digital camera, this one man who was taking pictures of it said he'd copy and give me the images later. I didn't think he'd do it on the same day, but thankfully he returned with a disk of all the jay-pegs. There was much rejoicing, and all was well in the little peasant village.

Would anyone like a visual tour? Of course you do! Just follow the magical little scroll button downwards and we'll get started.

Here's the awesome bike from the outside, with our resident nomad standing next to it. Apparently, this guy had started it thirty years ago, and has been riding in it since. It goes seventy miles per hour. It's capable of preserving electricity through that solar panel above the bicycle, so he can use a television set and stereo inside the trailer thing.
If that isn't what I call awesome, I don't know what.

No, that's not ductape, but that's what I thought at first as well, since of course I asked him about that, too. It's actually some kind of silver masking tape which sort of reminded me of tin foil. He said it's very durable and while doing seventy the only thing that really rattles is that roof thing he's got there. I forget how he gets the thing fired up, but for the most part it works as well as any other vehicle. Except going downhill in this thing is a nightmare, because of the breaks.

Looks like a bike, doesn't it? Probably because that's what it is (or was): A very awesome, very fast bike. There was also a sign on the front panel saying not to sit on the seat, or else it could topple over when he has it parked like that. I'm wondering if he says this from experience.

The door there slides open and close, and that's where he sleeps. He doesn't need blankets because it heats up inside once you get settled in (he's working on putting in an air conditioner someday; I asked him about that since it has to be miserable during the summer). Inside, he's got a towel, books, notebooks, a stereo, television, dice, and other things. Very neat.

Here's a closer look on the interior. Just what everyone needs. I can't help but wonder what he's got written in those notebooks.

Oddly, I didn't notice this earlier when I was looking at it. I'm not sure if he painted this, or someone he knew painted it, or if he bought it from somewhere, but it's a neat painting either way that I'm sure my Mom and my sister would drool over.

The rear end of it. A towel covering the window for privacy.

Some more of the exterior.

And more of our friendly little nomad sitting in his awesome invention.

One of the other people there asked him if he ever gets any crap from the police. Surprisingly, he doesn't; not like you would think, which is great. It's better than having him stand on the side of the road with a sign begging for money.

I can't really bring myself to call him a homeless person, even though that's what came to mind at first. Thing is, if he's got all that, he's not really without a home. He's also traveled all over the country (he was talking about all the places he's been to--east coast, west coast, countryside, desert. I wouldn't be surprised if he went to Canada and/or Mexico if he's been driving the thing for thirty years). Even though he does have a little donations flap next to the window, I think he's more of a nomad than an annoying, pan-handling hobo, especially since he didn't ask that we donate.

Speaking of which, I donated eleven dollars or so, which is the most I've ever donated to...anyone like this. Personally, I wish I dropped in more. The guy surely deserved it and a hearty kudos for innovation. I mean, really. Wow.

What's even greater is that he's a native to Portland. At least, that's where he said he first started it. This is his first visit to Portland in many years.

Just looking at these pictures, it still blows my mind. Not every day you find something like that out in your parking lot. It's still almost unbelievable.

Original post is here
See also page about the bike and its owner at Davis, California Wiki