"A Bicycle Built for Three"
"Today we're going to practice communication,
so I've called in some experts," Gyre announced
as she led Cassandra to the bike storage.
Bryony, Yona, and Highliner were unpacking
a splendid red-and-silver bicycle with three seats.
"How do you ride that thing?" Cassandra blurted.
"Carefully," Yona said. "It's easier for me,
because I ride in the middle, although I
haven't done this for a few months -- it's
not comfortable when I'm heavily pregnant.
Bryony is our captain, Highliner is our stoker."
"Bryony rides in front, Highliner in back,"
Gyre translated. "You'll get a chance to try
riding in the middle when we reach the park."
They went to Cloverleaf Park, which had
nice wide sidewalks so that people could walk,
jog, skate, or bike according to their preference
without getting in each other's way all the time.
"We'll start with Bryony in front, then you, and
me following behind," Gyre said to Cassandra.
"Pay attention to how they communicate."
"Will do," Cassandra said. She had already
noticed that the trio had near-telepathic awareness
of each other, a skill that she quite envied.
There were no road hazards to avoid,
because Cloverleaf Park was well maintained
with wide flat paths. She saw the flick of hands
pointing out pedestrians and other features, though.
Cassandra was glad that she had taken the class
to refresh her memory of bicycle rules, including
the signals. Maintenance was proving useful too.
Once Bryony pointed down and circled her hand,
yelling, "Glass!" as they rode past a smashed bottle.
"Pickup!" Gyre shouted back, and swerved out of
position to stop and dispose of the shards.
Soon she caught up to them again.
On the next lap, Cassandra saw them
signal first slow with a downward hand
and then stop with a fist behind the butt,
each person echoing the captain's signs.
"Water stop," Bryony said when they
dismounted between the two farthest loops,
whose pavilion had a drinking fountain
with a bottle filling station. "Everyone
top off your water bottles here."
Cassandra had been chagrined
to realized that her giant pile of stuff
had not included the kind of bottle cage
that clipped onto the frame, nor actual bottles.
So she had done a little research, asked around,
and then bought those necessities for herself.
She unclipped her Purist water bottles and
waited patiently for her turn to fill them.
The water was clear and cold, too,
refreshing on a hot summer day.
"Why don't you ride around a bit
on your own," Bryony suggested.
"We can't take the Triplet over ramps,
but your cargo bike should handle
the quarter-pipe and the pyramid if
you're careful and don't hotdog it."
"Okay," Cassandra said. She spent
a few minutes looping around the path,
getting a feel for how her bicycle behaved
on the smooth curves. It was interesting,
and she didn't crash, so she counted
the experiment as a success.
When she came back, Yona
waved her into his seat
on the Triplet bicycle.
"Let Bryony steer and Highliner
do most of the pushing," Yona advised.
"Your job is to keep your balance, keep up
the pace, and pay attention to the others."
"I'll do my best," Cassandra said.
"You can borrow mine, if you don't mind
riding something that expensive."
"Thanks," Yona said. Then he chuckled.
"Our Triplet is a customized standard model
with a scandium frame, so Highliner can lighten it
or even lift the whole thing. It costs about the same
as yours -- good tandem bikes are not cheap."
Cassandra had never even ridden
a double bike, let alone a triple, so she
was wobbly until she got the hang of it.
Then it was fun, because she really
didn't have to work as hard, and she
was learning a lot from the others.
It was a little scary, trusting Bryony
to steer for them all when Cassandra
couldn't even see the path in front of them,
but if Yona could do it, then so could she.
She learned to watch Bryony's body
as well as her hands, and to feel for
the shift in the frame when Highliner
put on an extra burst of speed.
By the time they finished, Cassandra
was hot, tired, sweaty, and exhilarated.
As they waited for the bus, she said,
"Thanks for teaching me. You folks
have the most amazing communication."
"We need to," Yona said as the three of them
snuggled together, minding neither the heat
nor the sweat rolling off of their bodies.
"It keeps our family together, while we
balance three different people."
Suddenly Cassandra realized that
their bicycle was more than just a vehicle.
It was a silent statement of their love.
* * *
Cloverleaf Park in Onion City has a squarish shape with a walking path consisting of four loops, and a stem leading to the parking lot. Each of the loops has a different level of physical activity. One is completely smooth with a flat ramp at the outside, one has gentle slopes with a quarter-pipe at the outside, one has moderate slopes with a pyramid incorporated along its route, and one is more rugged with several stairs, ramps, stepping stones, and other challenges along the way. An irregular-shaped wilderness refuge has been added adjacent to the lower right.
The park layout looks similar to this, omitting the yellow and orange lines. The parking lot with bathrooms and first aid station lies at the top of the gray stem. Landscaping surrounds most of the outer edges and inside the loops. The first loop to the left of the gray stem is the easiest with a flat grade. The second loop to the right of the gray stem has the gentle slope. The third loop on the bottom left has the moderate slope. The fourth loop on the bottom right is rugged and borders the green area, which marks a wilderness reserve; its double arc includes a smooth outer path for people with disabilities. Each loop is about one-quarter mile long.
Wide sidewalks and interactive features like these skateable sculptures and playable sculptures encourage people to pay attention and share the space peacefully. Skateable art is not a crime. Careful design and maintenance result in better facilities and performance. Education helps too. Those higher levels of situational awareness and courtesy help T-America avoid the kind of arguments that have led to L-America banning things like skating in public or drawing on sidewalks with washable chalk.
Each notch between the loops, and on both sides of the stem, has a pavilion with a picnic table and a barbecue grill. You can't see the grill in this picture as it is behind one leg of the pavilion. The pavilion between the two farthest loops has a drinking fountain with a bottle filling station. Watering equipment comes in various styles.
Granite benches alongside the trails provide extra seating, and are also skateable. Gaps between the benches provide ideal space for chalk and other sidewalk games without obstructing central traffic flow. In this view of the second loop with gentle slopes, you can see areas in the upper right where paved banks create more interesting areas for adventurous travelers. The wide center area remains relatively easy to traverse.
A three-seat tandem bicycle requires cooperation to handle. The Santana Triplet has sophisticated features which make it one of the best models. The element scandium is one that responds well to superpowers. This means that Highliner can lighten the bike while riding on it -- or pick it up and fly with it. By the time the Carris family got done customizing it, the $7,395 scandium frame bicycle clocked out at $10,205 or just over the $10,195 titanium frame.
Group cycling hand signals include options for slow and stop.
The Elite Pria Pave is among the best bottle cages because it is adjustable. It can be attached to various positions on a bike. (The bottle cages that came with Cassandra's kit were for attaching to back panniers that she doesn't always have on the bike.) Water bottles likewise come in assorted styles, of which the Purist model is popular.
Polyamory: Love Without Limits is a famous relationship manual. Polyfolk don't have a sex fetish; they have a communication fetish. If you want to learn hardcore communication skills, ask the experts. Courier work is all about communication, just in a different context.