Unsought kindness - CycleBlaze

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Unsought kindness

Leo Woodland

Have you been met with unsolicited kindness on the road?

  We were riding north of Vichy one summer and feeling both hungry and sorry for ourselves. We couldn't decide from the map whether the village to the right or that to the left was best for a restaurant, whether there was a restaurant at all.

  We needed local knowledge and we stopped by a man standing at his garden gate.

  "You don't need a restaurant," he said. "I have your meal all ready."

  He was, he said, also a cyclist. He had passed us a moment earlier in his car and he was waiting to see whether we passed his house or if we'd gone another way. His wife, he said, would be late coming home for her lunch and so we may as well eat it for her. Which we did.

  Things like that don't happen to car drivers.

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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Leo Woodland

So many interactions come to mind, but one of my favorites was our first trip to Europe 30 years ago.  We were on our way home, biking from Goussainville (a suburb north of Paris) to DeGaulle, early in the morning because we had an early departure.  We were cutting it short because we didn’t want to bike before dawn, and were stymied by a traffic circle with six spokes, none of them marked (this still astonishes me).  I was on my second loop of the circle looking for clues when a large semi drove into the circle, came to a full stop, and rolled down his window to ask if we were lost.  And you’re right, that would never happen if we were in a car, or America either.  We’ve loved France ever since.

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1 month ago
Gregory GarceauTo Scott Anderson

Don't lose faith, it CAN happen in America.  While sweating my way through the semi-desert of eastern Washington in 100-degree (F) heat, the driver of a Pepsi truck coming from the opposite direction came to a stop across the road and offered me an ice cold drink.  I knew I had a full bottle of water left so, proud of my self-sufficiency, I turned down the kind offer.  Big mistake.  Soon thereafter I discovered my water was not just warm, but hot.  I drank it anyway and then ran out of that hot water before my day was over.  I survived though.

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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory Garceau

Ooh, thanks for the reminder of The Watermelon Lady, the wonderful woman who pulled over to offer Rachael some watermelon crossing the desert west of Green River.  Her son is the author of a cycle touring book and she wanted to brag to him about her good deed.

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1 month ago
George HallTo Leo Woodland

Many times I have been the recipient of unexpected acts of kindness from strangers.  I think the fact that a bicycle tourist is relatively vulnerable, and relatively harmless as compared to motor vehicle drivers, leads folks to not fear us and to show their inherent goodness.  People have offered to let me camp in their yard, to bring me cold drinks or a bicycle pump while I was changing a flat beside the road, to transport me and my bike across a road construction area (I said "no thanks" to that one), to stay at their house when I reached their city, to let me shelter from the rain in their business, given me quarters for the laundry when I had no change, offered me food, paid for my meal without me even knowing until I tried to pay when leaving the diner, and many more  acts of kindness that I won't list. Every tour I have done has had good people offering acts of kindness - and this has been true from coast-to-coast throughout the U.S.   Below is an example from 2017 in the desert between Carson City and Fallon, NV.

A Gentleman Named Robert Stopped and Gave Us Cold Water - It Was Much Appreciated in the Desert Heat!

A very positive thing I have discovered from bicycle touring is that most people really are inherently good.  We may disagree on politics, religious ideologies, or other such  trivial matters, but when interacting one-on-one at a basic level with people, most are polite and respect others and will go out of their way to help a stranger.  

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1 month ago
Wayne EstesTo Leo Woodland

Sometimes it's just the thought that counts. While climbing a hill I saw a car stop ahead of me and put these items on the side of the road at the Colorado/Wyoming state line.

I didn't need water, was only 2 miles from town. I left the Diet Dr. Pepper on a bench in front of the restaurant. On my way out I noticed somebody poured it out and used the can as an ashtray.

I did keep the note for quite a long time.

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1 month ago
Mark BinghamTo George Hall

"People have offered to let me camp in their yard, to bring me cold drinks or a bicycle pump while I was changing a flat beside the road, ... to stay at their house when I reached their city, to let me shelter from the rain in their business, given me quarters for the laundry when I had no change, offered me food, paid for my meal without me even knowing until I tried to pay when leaving the diner, and many more  acts of kindness that I won't list."

This is exactly what I would have said (although not as articulately). I started to reply to the original post, then realized that there were literally hundreds of occasions, large and small, in which people have expressed kindnesses, and I wouldn't even know where to begin.

As I note in the beginning of almost all of my journals, my faith in humanity is restored every time I take a bicycle trip.  Every. Single. Time.

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1 month ago
Jeanna & Kerry SmithTo Leo Woodland

We have been the recipients of many acts of kindness, both large and small, while touring.  My favorite memory is from last summer after I was bitten by a pit bull near Perry, FL.  After the sheriff's deputies and the EMT's had done what they needed to do (and they were great), we went to a local urgent care center.  We had arrived by taxi but did not ask the driver to wait.  When I was ready to leave, there was a man waiting there who drove us to the pharmacy to get my prescription, waited while it was filled, then took us back to our hotel.  He, of course, declined our offers of payment for his gas and time.  When we thanked him for all his help, he turned around and thanked us for giving him the opportunity to be of help to someone that day.  It was the first time I recall being thanked for allowing someone to help me.  It was just such a lovely response.  Now, I remember to thank people who let me help them.

Jeanna

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1 month ago
Wayne EstesTo Mark Bingham

Unsolicited offers of help are rare for me.
Maybe I look like I don't need help.
Maybe I plan so well that I never need help.
Maybe I look or behave in a scary and unapproachable manner.
Or maybe it's because I avoid most people.

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1 month ago
Bill StoneTo Leo Woodland

Yes, I have been met with unsolicited kindness on the road, on multiple occasions.

One I remember in particular occurred when I suffered a mechanical and had no choice but to flag down a ride. I waited by a traffic light with thumb out. When the first pickup truck stopped at the light, I motioned for the driver to roll down his window. As he did so, I offered him $20 for a lift to my destination. He promptly agreed, so I heaved my bike into the back of his truck. We had a pleasant conversation, he delivered me exactly where I needed to go, and then he refused to accept a penny.

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1 month ago