Dave Lewis came peddling through town Monday afternoon, the 8th day of a cross country journey.
His bright yellow vehicle is not like anything seen in the U.S.
It looks similar to the tube that Evel Knievel jumped the Snake River Canyon over 40 years ago.
It’s not a car. It’s not a bike. It’s a custom enclosed, 3 wheel, aerodynamic vehicle made in Holland.
Lewis said, “I love to peddle. It’s just like a bicycle. I raced upright bikes for 7 years in Florida and I thought I’d stop in Durant on my way to Colorado.”
He should be in Colorado in a few days.
He said it goes 30 mile per hour “easily” on a flat surface.
Lewis is very slim and barely fits inside, but says it’s comfortable and he has a fan in the front for wind flow.
Made of carbon fiber, it has flashers, is street legal and weighs approximately 60 lbs.
Lewis said, “I’ve been pulled over, not to get a ticket, but they wonder why.”
He says he’s doing it all for fun and it brings awareness to “Lily and Laura Bracelets,” emblazoned on the side of his pedal car.
Lewis is Lily’s dad and Laura’s husband.
They have a bracelet business, with Japanese made special Matsuno glass beads that are sold in boutiques all over the U.S.
Lewis said, “they are known as the finest beads in the world.”
He said they are very popular here and there are many shops in Oklahoma who sell them.
“It really took off when an OU cheerleader wore them and others had to have them,” he said.
Stores in Norman and all over starting selling the bracelets.
Lewis said, “That is when it really got crazy. They really took off and boutiques all over want to sell them.”
He imports the beads, they are sorted and then sent to Kathmandu Valley in Nepal.
It’s there that the women are paid above fair trade wages and he says it greatly enhances their lives.
Lewis said, “The women there make the bracelets and it’s really improved their economy.”
Each one has a special custom tag showing where it was made.
They ship the bracelets back to the U.S and it’s their website, that anyone in the world can purchase them.
www.lilyandlaurabracelets.com is the website that handles purchases.
They also can be found on Facebook under “Lily and Laura.”
At $10 each, for 3 or more, he doesn’t get rich off the bracelets. A third of the income from the bracelets is continually going back to Nepal.
He said, “It takes them about an hour to make each one.”
Most people as they build their business, try to get their product into huge stores.
Lewis said, “We try to stay out of the big box stores. These are special, custom made bracelets and each is unique. The patriotic colors are very popular. The boutiques are the ones who made us, so we want to help them.”
Through a tiny opening slit for his eyes, he pedals in an almost laying down position.
He said, “Trucks see me from a half mile back.”
They don’t see him, just the vehicle.
He drives down the side of the highway, on the shoulder, of course.
He watches traffic constantly behind him with his 1 inch by 2 inch rear view mirrors, about the size of a book of matches.
Lewis said weight is the big issue.
“I don’t carry anything but my phone and the clothes I have on. I wash them every night at whatever motel I say at,” he said.
He has blinkers, lights, all powered by kids electric car batteries he charges at night.
Lewis said, “I have 4 batteries. Each 12 volt battery can power the car for approximately 4 hours.”
That gives him plenty of power for his GPS unit that sits atop his steering mechanism.
In the mornings, he starts out with hot chocolate for breakfast and tries not to eat too much.
Weight again, he stresses, is the big issue, so he only eats once per day, if then.
He only carries an Allen wrench set that he cut in half, again because of weight.
He said, “Even a few ounces is too much. I don’t carry anything, because of weight.”
When asked if he is scared to get on the highway with multi ton vehicles, he said, “I try to stay out of people’s way.”
Surprisingly, he hasn’t spoken to a single reporter until an anonymous tip introduced him to this one.
He’s not really doing it for publicity, just for fun.
He had some spare time and decided to decorate his vehicle with the bracelet business.
He said, “It does advertise but I don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable.”
It’s unique in that it has two wheels in front where the pedals are. It has one wheel in the back.
It’s like a backwards tricycle.
This design he says is better than most pedal vehicles.
Lewis said, “It gives more room that way for the pedal mechanism in front.”
People slow down as they pass him, wondering what he looks like inside.
It hides him completely as he travels with the cover on.
Lewis avoids interstate highways.
He said, “I came in on Highway 70 and I’ll leave Durant and head up Highway 48.”
He said he will stay out of Texas on this trip and will travel north on state highways along the Texas Oklahoma border and make it into Colorado in just a few days.
Lewis said, “I’ve traveled about 1300 miles since I left Florida. I stayed right along the Gulf of Mexico and came through central Alabama and diagonally across Mississippi. Then I came into southern Arkansas.”
No time is wasted on this trip and he only rests at night, long enough to get a few hours sleep and charge his batteries.
Lewis said, “I cut across Arkansas in a day. Almost across Arkansas. They have good shoulders and the roads were good.”
He said when he’s not going up a hill, it’s easier peddling than a bike.
Lewis said, “I can relax and there’s not wind drag. When I am going downhill, it can sometimes be scary though at 30 miles an hour. I was on Interstate 70 with a very narrow shoulder and lots of debris.”
Flat tires are the big problem so he carries a couple of extra inner tubes.
Lewis said, “I had a flat here and Mike’s Automotive really helped me out a lot.”
He wears a helmet but that’s all the safety gear on this trip. “I’m repairing my fan tonight while I rest so I’ll have wind inside as I pedal.”
Lily and Laura keep up with his travels but he doesn’t travel with any support vehicles as many people who travel across country do.
The 200 women who make the bracelets in Nepal win by manufacturing the bracelets.
He gets to do what he likes by having the freedom to travel in his custom made vehicle.
He said, “I love to pedal. That’s the reason I’m doing this. It’s just something I love to do.”
Contact Dan Pennington at (580) 634-2162 or firstname.lastname@example.org