It’s not everyday you meet a 103-year-old man. Nor is it everyday a 103-year-old man meets a toy that brings out the kid in him.
But miracles happen, and such was the case on Saturday, April 23, 2011, at the grand opening celebration of the new downtown bikeways in Long Beach, CA, a city out to become the most bike friendly in America.
The new bikeways are the first of their kind in Southern California, and for the dreamers behind Bike Long Beach, Saturday marked an important milestone. Which is exactly why 103-year-old Octavio Orduño was there. He is, after all, the oldest cyclist in the city of Long Beach, made even more famous recently by an LA Times article that recently hurricane’d through the blogosphere.
Opening day was a dream come true for many, including myself, and not just because I love trikking on the new bikeways on both my human-powered and battery-powered Trikkes.
For me, another dream come true when an unexpected meeting occurred between the Trikke and the oldest living cyclist in Long Beach.
I had already conceived of and been working on TrikkeWorld story that wonders, what would someone born at the beginning of the last century think of this newfangled bike called a Trikke?
One can only imagine the blur of innovation whizzing by the eyes of a baby born in 1908.
Ironically, Octavio already rides a trike, a three-wheeled vehicle he sits atop, which is much more bike than Trikke, the three-wheel vehicle I like to call the joyride of the 21st century.
But what would Octavio think of the trike with two K’s? I had to find out and fortunately, I was afforded the chance at Saturday’s grand opening.
Before the ceremonies began, the crowd milled about the Promenade, many on their bikes. Except, of course, me, the lone trikker, standing atop a black Trikke Tribred Pon-e.
Naturally, the cycle crowd was fascinated by my battery-powered carving machine, but the biggest admirer turned out to be Octavio, who took one look at my three-wheel wonder and made a beeline for it, as if hypnotized by a new fascination.
“He wants to swap with you,” said a pretty lady named Helene, his escort for the day.
“Go for it,” I said, eying his shiny red trike, eager to mount this curious toy I’d seen him driving through my neighborhood.
Meanwhile, Octavio mounted my shiny black Trikke, eager to mount his curious new toy, but not without a lot of assistance (you live to one-hundred-plus and try taking a giant leap).
Once atop the shiny black Pon-e, Octavio was on solid ground on the large foot platforms. A big ole smile wiped across his weathered face. Suddenly, he was as tall as any man around him and said so more than once. Holding onto the handlebars, he stood on the Tribred for a good 10-15 minutes. Octavio Orduño seemed in no particular hurry to dismount this Trikke.
I asked him if he wanted to have his very own Trikke with two K’s. He said sure, but he knew that his wife wouldn’t let him. Octavio Orduño was already enough of a daredevil.
He remained on the Trikke Pon-e, pretending to carve up the road, chatting with Long Beach bike czar Charlie Gandy and councilman Robert Garcia, posing for pictures for the army of photographers seizing the moment. Seems as though Octavio Orduño was enjoying the view.
When he finally dismounted, again with a plenty of assistance, he immediately began the rocking and rolling motions of a trikker, as if to show us he knew exactly how to ride both a trike and a Trikke.
Then he had another request. Octavio Orduño wanted to see me ride my Trikke.
It was a bit of a challenge, carving the heavier Pon-e sans battery while moving in and around a cramped space full of bike enthusiasts, many of them on bikes. But Octavio needed to see me carve, and lucky for me, my body by Trikke had me prepared for the job.
As I carved, Octavio seemed mesmerized, following me on his red trike, eyes full of wonderment. The things he’s seen. The things he could do with this.
I got the feeling that, were he any younger, or had it been invented in his heyday, Octavio Orduño would be riding a Trikke with two K’s.
As it stands, I wouldn’t be surprised if someday, I see him riding one in my neighborhood.