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Hanging with war vets on my last day in D.C.

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 19th, 2007 at 12:29 pm

Me and my tikit in DC
A cheesy self-portrait in front of
the Lincoln monument.

Saturday was my last day in Washington D.C. and I spent it on a bike.

When I arrived, it was 70 degrees, nearly perfect riding weather. Unfortunately things got worse as the week wore on. By the time Saturday rolled around, we'd seen rain, sleet, and snow.

Saturday morning I set out to see the monuments around the National Mall. I was (thankfully) greeted to dry skies but the wind was bitter cold. To combat the chill, I wore my new Planet Bike beanie (thanks Jay!), two pairs of pants, and pedaled a high gear to keep my body moving.

After a stop at the Washington Monument, I was attracted to the noise and crowds that had assembled near the Vietnam War Memorial. An Iraq War protest was in full swing.

Me and my tikit in DC
To boldly go where other
bikes can't.

Before taking a closer look I paid a visit to Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Near the top of the stairs I noticed a "No Bikes" sign. Undeterred, I simply folded up the tikit and carried it with me the rest of the way.

Back down near the war protest, I noticed a human wall of war veterans. Trying to be inconspicuous, I just stood around and watched the ebb and flow of human energy. Opinions clashed in both verbal and physical form and there were some minor altercations between the vets and the protesters.

As the cold crept in, I mounted the bike and headed out for a loop around the Jefferson Memorial. On the way back, I stopped to gaze at the White House and then I was drawn back to the protest.

At this point, the rally was over, but there were still thousands of veterans milling about.

As I wheeled my folded tikit through thick crowds, many vets stopped and asked questions about it. They all thought it was really cool.

I love bikes that start conversations, and the tikit is definitely one such bike. Here's a shot I snapped of vets I met posing with it:

Bob, Herb, and friends from a veterans support group in Virginia.

I spent a long time watching the veterans: their badge-filled leather jackets and worn faces told many stories.

Me and my tikit in DC
USAF Ret. Michael L. Syder

Not all of them were there to support the current war. There was apparently a rumor that the protesters were going to damage the war memorials, so vets showed up by the bus load to make sure that didn't happen.

USAF Retiree Michael Snyder was one of them.

Mr. Snyder served in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, but on Saturday he only wanted to talk about my bike.

After another gentleman inquired about the bike, I asked if I he'd mind posing next to it. He didn't mind, but I'm sure he thought I was crazy.

On the way back to my hotel, I gladly battled traffic one last time (it's actually pretty fun) and did a photo shoot and more field testing with the tikit.

Me and my tikit in DC

All the interest in this bike, and the presentation about Shimano Coasting the day before, has got me thinking more about the role new products can play in our efforts to get more people on bikes.

Stay tuned for my final wrap-up article on the Summit and more photos and thoughts on my experiences with the tikit.

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Comments
  • Scott Mizée March 19, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Another very interesting and great story, Jonathon. I sincerely hope Bike Friday **GIVES** you that Tikit. You have given them way more publicity than any normal person could do!

    Happy Trails,
    Scott

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  • Alan March 19, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Jon, This story scores 10 out of 10 in bike outreach and finding common ground (pro-war? anti-war? we ALL love bikes!)

    Isn't it amazing too how a tweaking a bike's appearance can get a conversation going? "What kind of bike is that?" "Why are you riding a funny-looking bike?" "I didn't know bikes could ... fold, be battery-powered, push 3 kids + groceries in a basket in the front, etc etc."

    Support mutant bikes!!!

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  • Scott Mizée March 20, 2007 at 4:27 am

    ahh... more mutant bikes... keep portland weird.... :)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • joy March 20, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Thanks for going there and representing Portland (& bikes) so well.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

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