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From Iraq to BikeCraft

Posted by on December 11th, 2008 at 11:54 am

Joe Lontai at BikeCraft.
(Photo © J. Maus)

I’m working on a slideshow and a report about last night’s BikeCraft event. It was a thrilling night in many respects for both Elly and I, but I want to share a particularly touching moment.

Back in April 2006, I shared a story about Joe Lontai. Joe was a BikePortland reader serving a tour of duty in Iraq. He sent an email along with a photo of himself on a spinning bike in the Iraqi desert.

He was wearing a battle helmet, an Army-issue bullet-proof vest, and lycra shorts; he was training for the Seattle-to-Portland Classic.

Joe in Iraq back in 2006.

Last night, while in a dizzying swarm of people, Joe extended his hand through the crowd and introduced himself with his beaming smile. I remembered him immediately. He said the story and comments of support really helped him “break the monotony of being in Iraq.”

Joe said his friends serving with him would give him a hard time for riding his training bike so much, and the story helped him explain his bike-loving ways. “It made my month…it made my six months!” he said.

Now Joe (and his fiancee) live in Beaverton and he teaches ROTC at the University of Portland.

Nice to have met you Joe and I look forward to our paths crossing again sometime.

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Matthew DentonKtSashaAfro BikerAndrew Recent comment authors
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Matthew
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Matthew

This event was very fun to attend! Many people, so many, that the space was probably too small to accommodate everyone! That’s alright, because it was fun bumping around everyone as if we were all in some bicycle culture pinball machine. Last night was a good night to be a Port-land-er!!!

Ethan
Guest

Welcome home.

Matthew
Guest
Matthew

Also, !!!thank you!!! Joe for serving our country, not only as a soldier of war, but as a model citizen who chooses such a healthy hobby–cycling!

Thank you

Heidi Swift
Guest

Damn. Now that’s dedication.
Good to see everyone last night – what a great turnout!

Mr DeJerk
Guest

You get my support for riding your bike, which, in my opinion serves us better than joining the military.

Hart
Guest
Hart

Ironic that it wasn’t for the combustion engine we wouldn’t be fighting wars for oil. Glad our man made it home safe.

Uncle Muscles
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Uncle Muscles

Do we have to politicize everything? A simple “thank you, welcome home” should suffice here.

anna
Guest
anna

whatever do you mean? I NEVER notice politics on this site.

=)

Andrew
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Andrew

Welcome back Joe! Don’t be alarmed by all the strangers yellin’ “Hi’ya!” passing you on the streets.

Afro Biker
Guest
Afro Biker

Uncle Muscles: No kidding, seems people aren’t happy here unless they are stabbing you in the face with their politics.

Sasha
Guest
Sasha

Welcome back Joe, and thank you for your service, truly.

Kt
Guest
Kt

That’s awesome that you made it home safe, Joe– thank you for your service, and welcome home!

Matthew Denton
Guest
Matthew Denton

1) If I posted that I’d spent the last year as a peace protester, and someone else disagreed with me, (or my cause,) I don’t think they’d be the person that, “brought politics into discussion.” No, that would be my fault, and if I’m not willing to discuss that, then maybe I should keep my mouth shut…

2) Welcome home. War is hell. I’m sorry about that, I certainly don’t wish it on anybody.