At the central Salvation Army kitchen in SoMa Wednesday morning, two line cooks wore cycling jerseys along with their hairnets. You could consider kitchen hands Roland and Belinda Hinmueller a type of extreme migrant worker: a New Zealand couple pedaling from Alaska to Argentina on their yellow tandem bicycle "Big Bird." The trip is a more eco-conscious and ambitious version of Che Guevara's motorcycle journey across the Americas as documented in The Motorcycle Diaries
. Yet instead of working at an Amazonian medical clinic a la Comandante Che
, the New Zealand couple is volunteering at Salvation Armies along the way.
The oddest thing of all is the duo isn't on an extreme reality show testing whether their marriage can withstand a pan-American trip on a tandem bicycle. (Whether they'll write a revolutionary's coming-of-age tome at the end of the trip is anyone's guess.) Nope, it seemed this was a sighting of that rare species of altruistic people who want to donate their time to a worthy cause -- the type of story that concludes the nightly news and restores your faith in humanity.
During Salvation Army stop No. 11 in San Francisco yesterday, the couple assembled 360 pot pies and delivered meals to seniors. Today they'll be talking to kids at a Salvation Army after-school program about their cycling adventures.
The idea for the cross-continent trek emerged after the couple married
last year, and decided to stage a huge adventure before having
children. They wanted to work in community service during the trip, which
they've named "Cycling With Sally."
(In some countries, the Salvation Army is known as the "Sally Army.")
Roland, 32, took a sabbatical from his job as a primary school teacher and
28-year-old Belinda up and quit her job as a registered nurse to start cycling in
"We feel fortunate to be able to take a year off, and we wanted to give
back," Belinda said, punching out circles of dough with a cookie cutter
for the pot pie crust. "We get a lot of satisfaction out of it," Roland added
while scooping the chicken-pea-carrot goop into the shells. (We couldn't help but note that the bushy beard Roland has been growing since the beginning of the trip made him a doppelganger for Zach Galifianakis of The Hangover fame, minus the paunch.)
Biking 50 to 70 miles a day, the couple is right on schedule to reach the tip of Argentina in a
little more than a year's time. (You can check out their progress on their blog.) They admit they had to
hitch a ride into San Francisco after one of Big Bird's rims cracked
150 miles north of the city. The giant bike is currently in the shop for
repairs before the couple take off on the next leg of their trip down Highway
1 toward Santa Cruz on Friday.