Fitting on a day when our little messenger outfit was asked by multiple customers to travel back through time and deliver packages well before the actual delivery orders were called in -- we regret to inform our clients that, despite our storied Zen-mastery of the streets and admiration for Stephen Hawking and other high-profile physicists, we can not in fact satisfy this request under current technological paradigms -- I ran across this shining silver fixed-wheel time machine leaning against the glass at the Tabor Center.

I'm not sure if this is an original (which would make it about 120 years old) or a copy but it sure is a beautiful piece of work. The giant hoop of a tire is solid red rubber, and worn down flat. The owner-operator told me that he had worn out the original spoon brake, and clearly was on his way to wearing out another, which he reported to be a semi-effective mechanism. Mind-warping juxtaposition of Cateye light and cycle-computer clipped to 19th C. mustache handlebar. Whoa, shake it off.

Unique as it may be, this is a fully-functioning utility bike for a dedicated transportational bicyclist. This fellar rides this bad boy all over town in heavy traffic, which has to be much more challenging than riding a brakeless track bike on the same streets. Frankly, when I have seen him negotiating 15th, perched about 18 feet in the air, there has been something akin to a look of abject terror on his face. And I can't say I blame him. Seems to me the slightest provocation could send the operator of this wheel on an epic headlong vault. This was always a problem with these highwheelers -- the modern 'safety bike' was developed and marketed as a response to the dangers posed by riding atop a giant wheel -- but this commuter has taken the inherently iffy launching-pad of a machine and injected it into the maelstrom of 21st C. downtown traffic, among thousands of cars and trucks piloted by 21st C. lunatics. You have to give this wheelman credit for going where very, very few have gone before and pulling it off. I wish him continued success with his time machine.