Teenagers and Rituals
In America, we lack rituals, rites of passage, ways to celebrate the change of time and the adoption of increased freedoms and responsibilities. We have the usual driver’s license, cigarette purchasing, and lawful drinking, but nothing before that which we share as a country. Of greater loss, we don’t have a passage for kids that is healthy and not connected to some age-getting vice.
March 22, 2013 is my son’s 13th birthday. He will officially be a teen. I will pass on to him the keys to a U-Lock, and his very own, freedom creating, cargo bike from Tom LaBonty. Tom LaBonty (Tom’s Cargo Bikes) has taken on the project to build my son’s Cargo Flyer.
I have talked about building a Microfiets, a kid-sized cargo bike, and Tom has built a kid’s cargo bike he calls a Kidfiet. Tom contacted me last month and proposed the idea of building a kid’s cargo bike that would be used by a kid. Tom has seen Kael ride a number of cargo bikes so the attraction of this build for Tom is that this cargo bike will be built for a specific kid and get used. It isn’t whimsy or an exhibition. It isn’t a novelty build. It is a bike for a kid. A cargo bike for Kael.
The collaboration between Tom and me is perfect–he takes ideas and makes them reality. He is one of Portland’s creative forces and I value his collaborative style; you may recall the creation of Ratiets!
The Meaning of the Bikes
In addition to being a rites of passage, the Cargo Flyer build has symbolism. Kael’s first bike was a Radio Flyer trike. Kael and I would spend hours going around blocks or heading to the park, Kael riding this trike. Along these trips, Kael would pick up all manner of objects–pine cones, lost car parts, rocks, sticks, and such. One day he asked for a box on his bike so he could put his things someplace (This is before I had a cargo bike–he was an early adopter in the Wittwer family) so Kael and I made a box and attached it to the back of his trike. In this way, the cargo bike, which will carry him into the next stage of his life, reflects this trike.
The little blue bike that will make up the front of the Cargo Flyer is Kael’s first two-wheel bike. This bike was passed down through 8 children in my neighborhood before coming back to me, and will continue with Kael as he rides the streets of Portland.
A Snippet of Kael Cargoness
A post on Kael as an early cargo bike adopter, 2001
Kael rides Jamies Nichols’ Metrofiets and you can hear him in the video saying that he would like a cargo bike of his own. Here is a photo of Kael on Jamie’s bike where you will notice his flip flops of all footwear. Many people find cargo bikes to be a bit hard to ride at first. This ride on Jamie’s bike is the first time Kael rode a long john. He has natural confidence.
Kael also rode Matthew Sellens’ cargo bike which is for Sellens’ company, Perpetua Wood Floors. This bike is one of the longest cargo bikes in Portland and Kael rode it with grace and skill. I was amazed. Even more amazing is the willingness of all of these Metrofiets folks to let my son ride their bikes. Good group of guys.
Rocking Dan Kaufman’s Disco Trike at DRT 2012.
Kael trying to convince me to let him ride my Bullitt in the Cirque du Cycle parade of 2011, where we had a cargo bike group–We Go Cargo!
Kael organized a Yuba Mundo dance while at the Yuba booth during Pedal Nation. The dance is called, Yubastic Dance.
A Teenager Will Be Set Free in Portland
There is not much in the way of teenage cargo bike use, but that will all change in March. One of Kael’s greatest traits is his undying passion and enthusiasm for whatever he is doing. He is up for anything. As a younger child, never once did he complain about biking to school on cold, rainy mornings. He is always first and ready for whatever great adventure we take as a family. Kael is a beautiful individual, and has brought great joy to my life. I look forward to the next 13 years.
Friends and family will take part in Kael’s passage by gifting items for his bike: lights, bell, lock, etc. I will keep you posted on the bike’s progress. Remember, this bike is a secret. Kael does not know. Shhhhhhhhhhhh
I will post as the project develops.
Download the above sketched plans for the Cargo Flyer, bike #67 for Tom LaBonty.