Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quike The Adventure!

Hee hee. I bet you think I forgot to use Spellcheck, don't you? I bet you think I meant to write Quite The Adventure, isn't that right? Good logic, based on standard English usage, but ever so wrong, despite your solid reasoning. Then what in the world has happened to the English language, you may be wondering? Could this be yet another new word invented to cover some remarkable new tech discovery, or some new form of kid-speak that is sweeping through text messages like wildfire? No, I assure you, if it were some new lingo for the under-twenty-five set, I would have next to no way of knowing about it, ancient as I am. Okay, I do have some friends on Facebook who are in the text-speak generation, but most of what they write in said language goes completely over my head and I require translation on a regular basis. So, I would not dare to attempt to such generationally sensitive pseudo-gibberish myself without intense underage supervision, and Spellcheck would be as useless as a rotary-dialed cell phone.

Well then, what about the new-tech thing? No, that's not really it either. The word "quike" does not refer to a new-fangled technological breakthrough, though we're getting warmer. In fact, although there has, indeed, been a new twist added, the technology of which I speak is quite old. The humble bicycle was making its mark as innovative and cutting-edge way back in the 19th century, and the horse-and-buggy crowd were mocking bicycle riders as early as 1885. However, as we all know, forward-thinking bicyclists have had the last laugh. Nowadays, only the rich and the Amish can afford to stable horses, while the bicycle is used by millions of people for their principal means of transportation. Seen any video out of China lately? The bicycle is king. A little impractical for winter transportation in Oregon, maybe, but still a reliable and enjoyable means of getting around. Indeed, biking is my husband's favorite form of exercise.

So, now for the twist. A bike has two wheels, so the quike would have? Yes, I win the obvious-question-of-the-day award. It doesn't take the quadratic equation to figure out that a quike would have four wheels, along with the ability to cover rough terrain and carry loads that a mere bicycle would never be able to manage. (Although I've seen some of that aforementioned video out of places like China where skilled pedalers carry impossible-looking loads on their two-wheelers--balancing burdens the size of small cars on bicycles the size of, well, bicycles.) Four wheels add stability and weight distribution, and also add an ability to share the load when there's a second seat for additional pedal power.

So, what is the use for all that extra hauling ability? Four wheels probably wouldn't make it any easier to navigate the crowded streets of Beijing. What about more open landscapes, though? Rough rural roads, sand and snow? Well, there are a couple of ambitious and energetic young people out of Australia who are planning to muscle close to a thousand pounds of gear, supplies and body weight on a 7,400 mile, year-long journey that will take them through "Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Western China (Xinjiang) and Southern Russia (Tuva)." It's a pretty interesting story, which you can read here, along with some design info on the quike.

Roger Chao and Megan Kerr are hoping to document some of the vanishing local customs and stories from the cultures they will encounter, even as they take on the tremendous physical challenges of the trip. You can read more about their objectives at their website. They plan on keeping an ongoing online journal of their trip. (Ahh, the blessing of video cameras, tiny, portable computers and satellite technology. The twenty-first century does have a few things going for it.) I hope they do well in this effort. It would be interesting to read about their journey as it happens and explore these distant locations and cultures vicariously. I love discovering different places and people, although I don't think I would ever have the ambition to commit to peddling my way across 7,400 miles of remote and rugged, and multi-languaged terrain. That, like text-speak, is something best left to the young.