As long as we were talking about automobiles as dangerous weapons, here’s a humbling juxtaposition:
That’s my bike. Not my monster truck, though.
What compels a person?
Then I wondered what a “monster bike” would look like? And then I thought: maybe it would be like a “freak bike.” You know freak bikes? It’s when several old bikes are welded and reconfigured into a Frankenstein-like bicycle monstrosity.
Here’s one spotted in the leafy neighborhood west of downtown.
She was waving, not covering her face from the paparazzi.
I used to posit that you needed four things to make a freak bike:
- You need a big pile of old bicycle parts and frames, maybe some random lengths of steel tubing and other bits of scrap metal.
- You need the ability to weld — or you need to know someone who can weld and will barter that skill for beer and a big bowl of quinoa.
- You need the desire to be different.
- You need to live in Portland.
Portland has an enormous contingent of freak bikes. But this summer I started noticing more in Eugene. Maybe I hadn’t been hanging out in the right circles before. Maybe we are just a little slower on the uptake here in the backwaters.
Either way, here’s one at Eugene’s downtown bus station:
See that guy in the background, sitting on the wall. As I shot this photo, he said: “Hey! Who the fuck you taking a picture of?!” The bus station can be freaky, for sure.
In fact, who among you would leave your bike at the downtown bus station unlocked? You’ll notice this freak bike is not locked up, even though there is a lock and chain right there on the seatpost. But I suppose it’s like that bumper sticker I once saw: “Fat people are harder to kidnap.” Freak bikes are harder to steal.
If you wonder how they get up on those tall bikes, here is a guy I saw cruising 17th Avenue. He had to stop by Cornucopia to wait for traffic. To those people who complain that “no cyclist in history has ever come to a complete stop at a stop sign,” we can point to this gentleman and say, “Not true.”
When you stop a freak bike — at least the “tall bike” subset of freak bike — you not only have to stop, you have to dismount completely.
Then he gracefully put one foot high up on a pedal …
… and off he went:
I think this is the same guy, on a different day, heading in for a tune-up:
While these “tall bikes”are one kind of freak bike, they are not the only kind. There is the “chopper” style of freak bike. This guy was happy to pose for the camera. He even stopped when he saw me taking a picture and got off so I could get a better shot.
Although, I didn’t get a very good shot.
Here’s another in the same vein. You know how Gary Fisher and Greg Lemond have had their own brands of bicycles? Did you know that Dr. Seuss had his own bicycle line?
This guy was heading into an alley in pursuit of Thing 1 and Thing 2.
So where are they coming from, these freak bikes? I don’t know, but I did spot what seems to be a hive of freak bike activity over in the Whiteaker neighborhood, at a place called the East Blair Housing Coop:
But I have my doubts about Lawnmower-Bike being ridable, missing seat not withstanding:
By the way, I was perusing the application to become a member of the East Blair Housing Coop, and when I came to question #9, I knew right away there was only one correct answer for any serious applicant: