It’s a sight you don’t see everyday- A guy riding a Walmart mountain bike, with an oversized, lopsided cart strapped to the back of his bike. He’s hauling a lawnmower, a weedwacker a broom, a big red cooler, a 5-gallon bucket, a couple of gas cans and a backpack.
Joe rides his bike from one yard to the next and cuts grass in Ocean View, a neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia. Joe’s license has been suspended since his last DUI, but you gotta be real drunk to get pulled over on a bike, Joe says. Since he couldn’t drive his truck, Joe downsized to a bike. Now he rides the streets through muggy summers and wet winters, cutting lawns wherever he can.
Ocean View Avenue stretches for nearly ten miles through the southern sand dunes of the Chesapeake Bay. OV Ave is long, flat and straight. It offers the perfect setting for riding a utility bike. While the summers can be brutally muggy and hot in Norfolk, the winters are mild. Which is good for the crabgrass, and good for Joe.
Joe’s cart is a testament to backyard engineering on a Walmart budget. It may have once been a baby trailer, but only the axle and wheels now remain. The pop-up trailer frame was replaced by part of a wooden fence. A two by four trailer tongue is suspended from the saddle by a dog chain. The saddle is high enough to keep the tongue off the rear tire, but is too high for Joe to sit on, and forcing him to constantly pump the pedals standing up. “Just like a beach cruiser,” Joe says.
Joe doesn’t wear bike shorts or a helmet. He doesn’t clip in. He rides in the same clothes that he wears to work: grass-stained sneakers, white socks, cut-off jeans, a sleeveless t-shirt and a boonie hat that was once white. The guys out for the weekly A-pace ride blow past Joe on carbon fiber bikes that would fold in half if they had to pull half of what Joe’s bike moves every day.
Well, we all got somewhere to get to, Joe says.