Unsought kindness (page 2) - CycleBlaze

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Unsought kindness (page 2)

Keith AdamsTo Leo Woodland

In 2004 I took a detour from my (supported) ride across Kansas, to visit the small farm town where my Dad was born and raised.  Their farm was a couple miles out of town.  As I stood looking at the house the present owner drove up.  I introduced myself and told him why I was there.

He promptly invited me in for lunch and gave me a tour of the house; I was too young when I last visited to really have any meaningful memory of it, but it was great to see the place none the less.

Later, I was able to send him a book written by one of my uncles.  It's a collection of stories and vignettes of my Dad's family's life on the farm and in that house.  I had circulated the book at a family reunion, having as many family members as possible sign it before sending it along. 

Some weeks later I got a reply to the effect that the book had been an immediate success, first in the family of the present occupants and then as it made the rounds through town.  Many of the people in town remembered my Dad's family (none of whom still live in the area) and / or the other townsfolk who are mentioned throughout the book.

Not a random act of kindness, but a great connection nevertheless.  I plan to ride through again late this summer and see what's happened in the intervening 18 years.

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7 months ago
marilyn swettTo Leo Woodland

Like others, we've had so many acts of kindness from strangers while on tour. One I remember happened in Illinois when we were along the Mississippi River. A horrific thunderstorm caught us out on the road - with hail, rain and lightning. Taking cover under a tree didn't seem safe. We could see a farmhouse up ahead that had a covered porch that looked like a good place to go so we headed there. We had no idea if anyone was home but it didn't matter at this point!

As we rode up to the house, and parked the bike, we ran for the porch. The homeowners opened the front door, beckoning us to come on inside. They proceeded to give us towels to dry off with, hot drinks and just baked cookies! We spent the next couple of hours relaxing and talking with them. Once the storm moved on, so did we. Just another amazing encounter on the road!

We also had another gift that happened on our first cross country tour. While in Utah, several times we had camped by a couple driving one of those big bus RV's and made friends with them. 

We were in Torrey and they offered to do something to help us the next day as we headed for Hanksville. So we gave them our YAK trailer to lighten our load. We were both going to the same campground. 

It was great to have less to pull and were having a great day until we cracked the rim of our front wheel. Limping into Hanksville, we put up the tent and picked up our trailer. The plan was for Don to hitch a ride north to Green River which was on the interstate where he hoped to grab a bus east back to Denver. Then he would bring our van back to pick me up. 

Well, the RVer's said NO WAY would you be doing that!! They stated that they would take us to Denver since they were headed there anyway to visit their daughter and were tired of looking at red rocks. We dismantled the tandem which was luckily was coupled, and stuffed it and our trailer into their tiny tow car - a Honda FIT.

Then we climbed into their RV and drove in style back home which took 2 days. When we got home we were able to get the wheel fixed and resumed our tour to the coast. What was amazing was that they would take no money - even for gas as compensation for their goodwill! We were finally able to take them out to dinner. But it was an encounter that we'll never forget.

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7 months ago
Bill StoneTo Leo Woodland

Another incident came to mind.

In Switzerland in 1983 my aluminum rear rack snapped and the broken end of a strut began rubbing against spokes. I managed to limp into a nearby campground but I was unable to manage a suitable repair job that evening. I had a sleepless night trying to figure out what to do next. In the morning, while I fiddled with the broken rack, an elderly Englishman from a nearby campsite offered to assist. He was, it turned out, a retired repairman of some sort who was driving around Europe in an old van filled with tools and various bits and bobs of spare parts. Within a few minutes he had perfectly splinted the broken strut -- it was never a problem again -- and refused to accept any payment for his labor or the odds and ends he used. Definitely unsolicited kindness!

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7 months ago
John PickettTo Leo Woodland

On my 2018 ride across the US, I slogged up to Rogers Pass in Montana. The previous day I had planned on an easy day but I ended up riding a long and hilly detour because a bridge on my planned route was washed out.  

The pass was not particularly high in elevation but it was unexpectedly steep. Somehow I miscalculated the distance to the top. I was thinking I had a mile to go when I looked up and saw the summit sign. My face went from anguish to glee. 

At the summit, a woman had just parked her car. She saw me coming and was laughing at the change in my facial expression. She then offered to take my picture in front of the sign. She was part of a group of field botanists who were doing surveys of non-native plants in the area. They were having their annual meeting at a lodge off the highway ten miles ahead. 

Lincoln, MT, the town I was planning on staying in further down the road, had no vacancies as they were hosting their annual rodeo. 

My laughing photographer offered me a campsite near the lodge including dinner, breakfast, and a shower for which I was quite grateful.

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7 months ago
Robert EwingTo Leo Woodland

Of course the kindness of people to this solo traveler are legion, but one case perhaps takes the prize.

From my Colorado River journal riding from McMinnis Canyon, Colorado to Moab, Utah:

"The morning was dry with lines of dark clouds passing overhead. My planned route was to turn off of Interstate-70 at the ghost town of Cisco and follow the Grand (Colorado) River into Moab with the option of camping on the river if I could not make enough distance against the head wind.

Just before the Cisco off ramp, all hell broke loose. I scrambled to put my rain gear on trying to make as much speed as possible to get off the freeway shoulder.  The lightning strikes got closer and closer until they were right on top of me - close enough to smell the ozone residue of each strike.  I remember reading that golfers should abandon their clubs, remove their spikes shoes and find a low place. I laid the Flyer down just off the shoulder and was about to take my cleats off when a pickup truck pulling a utility trailer pulled up.  The woman, Jena, quickly moved boxes in the trailer as we stowed the Flyer. Her family of teens to early twenty something squashed themselves into the back of the crew-cab as I climbed in and was politely handed a bag of stale donuts, which really hit the spot as the heavens continued their onslaught.

As is often the case as storms breakup, there are magnificent moments of clouds, lighting and nature. Jena is a professional photographer and was returning from the Colorado State Fair. When the moment was right we stopped and everyone piled out of the truck circus style including soaking wet me, and with various cameras in everyone's hands we all started taking pictures. 

Jena dropped me off at the Hwy 191 junction and I had a pleasant uneventful ride into Moab."

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7 months ago
Keith AdamsTo Leo Woodland

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being on the giving rather than the receiving end of kindness.  I had stopped for a breather and noticed a repeated flash from the opposite side of the road, a couple hundred yards ahead.  At first I thought it was a welding arc and the homeowner was doing something to his mailbox post, but then I realized it was a strobing bike headlight on an inverted bike.

I rode over and stopped, offering moral support and inquiring whether assistance was needed.  The rider showed me the spot where his chain had broken; he was riding a sport bike on a day ride and had no tools to try to fix it.  Since I was fully kitted up (I was on a two-day one night excursion to get some miles in and test my camping routine) I had my "complete" tool kit with me; it includes a multi tool that has a chain rivet driver built in.

It only took a few minutes to remove the failed link and rejoin the now-shortened chain, enabling the fellow to finish the last couple miles of his ride on the bike rather than pushing.

I was glad to have been able to "pay it forward" and hope that, should I ever need it, I now have a bit of positive karma on my balance sheet.

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7 months ago
David FritschTo Leo Woodland

We are currently being taken care of by angels in Greece.  On the final riding day of a  tour supported tour my wife became ill and had to spend a difficult night in a a hospital. Friends on the tour did everything needed to get us medical care and take care of the logistical issues involved in ending a tour in a foreign country, even including packing our dirty clothes in a overstuffed suitcase while we were stuck in the hospital. Still, we were unable to continue on with the group as the wife is only slowly progressing.  Our guide and his wife, whose professional responsibilities to us had long since ended have taken us into their home and are caring for us in every way possible, meals, shelter, medical care, advice and caring support.We had  never met either of them two weeks ago, but  now we will never forget them.  Bicycle tourists are supported by the "Kindness of Strangers", perhaps that helps explain why many cyclists don't have a fear of "others" outside of their clan. These wonderful people are set to host us until the middle of next week when we anticipate we will finally be able to fly home. These two new friends will be first in my mind when I give thanks this Thanksgiving. 

I hope to write a separate forum post when I get home detailing our still developing experiences with our airline and travel insurance.  So far, both have been good.

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6 months ago
Pete StaehlingTo Leo Woodland

I have had so many of these unsolicited kindnesses on the road.  There have been offers of meals and places to stay, help when broken down and so on, but my favorites are often just a cold drink on a hot day.  Times like:

  1. The guy who pulled over when we were sitting under the only shade tree for 50 miles, slided open his van door without a word, opens a cooler, and throws us each an ice cold bottle of water.  Water never tasted better.
  2. When we were climbing a walking speed grade and came around a bend to find a large ice cold blue powerade standing upright and waiting for us.  Someone obviously saw us climbing the grade pulled over and left it for us.  We always referred to it as the Blue Powerade from Heaven.
  3. When on a scorching hot day some motocycle touring guys opened their cooler and gave us ice cold water bottles.
  4. Once we were talking to a local about the local hot springs.  He said the locals would be there in the evening and invited us with the warning of nudity and drinking.  We passed as much due to tiredness as anything.  He knew we would be stopping there in the morning, so we knew where the two beers that were waiting next to the spring came from.

There were many more like these.  Also many times I had nice meals or stays with local folks.

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3 months ago
Keith AdamsTo Leo Woodland

I was offered, and accepted, unsolicited lifts from two sets of road angels as I toiled up long climbs on hot afternoons in Oregon and Montana.

Monty and Michael. They had already carried a westbound rider over the top of the climb I was riding, and scooped me up on their return eastbound journey a few minutes later.
This lively, lovely, engaging family were on a three week vacation and helped me over the hump. It took some creative reorganization of their already-full minivan to shoehorn my bike and me in but they simply laughed and set about gleefully rearranging their belongings (and themselves) to make it happen.
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3 months ago