Resting and exploring: Tuscon
Last good movie I saw: With My Own Two Wheels
For the last 3 days I developed a morning ritual- bask and stretch in the morning sun while listening to the howls and chirps of surrounding wildlife. Here, in Tuscon, it has been a perfect 62 degrees (F) in the mornings.
Two days ago, after my morning sun bask ritual, Bruce and I headed out for day errands and adventure. First, we went to BICAS. BICAS is a co-op open to anyone who wants to learn how to work on a bike, get their hands dirty, and become more self-sufficient. They got their start as an assistance group for the homeless. Like most independent bike co-ops, volunteering is available for credit that can be used towards access to the community tools and maintenance space. I was to return the next day for the work-trade program. After BICAS, we checked out the next bike shop around the corner. I inquired about advice on cycling Arizona and Mexico. Jose, the store owner, has bike shops, friends and family in Mexico. I gave him my email, after he offered to make some contacts to help me find places to stay. I knew in Tuscon, the cycling community would be my best resource for locating future hosts in Mexico. After the bike shops, Bruce showed me around downtown, the UofA campus, and a drive-by-glance at the Occupy Tuscon in Veinte De Agosto Park. Back towards the hills, he continued past his home to show me the Tuscon Mountains. The drive through the mountains was glorious, the sky was blue and white clouds over orange mountains covered in saguaro cacti. We stopped at Gates Pass where I walked up the mountains to catch a spectacular view of the Avra Valley.
The next day (yesterday) I returned to BICAS at noon.
My assignment for volunteering was to make rubber-bands out of tubes. I had good company while making the bands- Izzy, a political science student of Arizona state, shared his story about his travels in China.
After cutting tubes, I hung my bike on a stand in the workshop and got my hands dirty. I meticulously brushed off all the gears covered in sand and rubbed off the rust with a metal scrub. During this process I was becoming better acquainted with my bike, discovering all the details and functions.
I lubed up the pivots and chain, followed by replacing the back tire with a thicker tube, and a 101 on how to true my wheels. I was helped by Casey, Angie, and Troy. I was most challenged by replacing the back wheel- fitting the thick tire through the brake and correctly positioning the derailleur.
I spent the whole day at the shop. Before the shop closed, I overheard the shop workers talking about a bike movie premiere at the Fox theater. After closed shop, I went with Troy and a cyclist from Utah to the theater to watch the documentary “With My Own Two Wheels”. The documentary, told 5 global stories about lives improved by the bicycle. I was touched by all the stories about the impacts on mobilizing the 3rd world. The most memorable one for me, was about a disabled Ghanaian woman, Mirriam. Bikes Not Bombs (Boston) happily invited her to help in the Ghana bike shop. There, she learned how to true her first wheel. she impressively done it so well, she was asked to true wheels for customers at the shop. She earned a job as a mechanic- a job dominated my men and rarely done by disabled persons. According to the movie, disabled people in Ghana are more often stigmatized for disabilities, thus making it a challenge to get a job and attain self-sufficiency. As a disabled woman, it’s almost hopeless, yet Mirriam defines the hope. Bikes helped girls get to school in India; pride is gained for a mechanic in Santa Barbra, where is job prospects are statistically low for those susceptible to gang-lifestyle; and even old bikes-turned into-machines like the bicimaquina, in Guatemala, that grinds corn for faster production and less pollution. It was a great movie- I was left moved and inspired (Watch-it!)
After the movie, I went with the Utah cyclist to get a late night dinner at a mexican-food restaurant. I never did get his name. He had cycled from Seattle to California, last year. He talked about his trip and I shared stories about mine. I called it a night after Bruce picked me up. I didn’t have my red rear-light, and I was too tired to cycle home.