Unsought Kindness: Paying it forward - CycleBlaze

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Unsought Kindness: Paying it forward

Bill Stone

Speaking of unsought kindness, what have YOU done to assist a bicyclist in need?

As for me, this incident comes to mind.

In 2010 my ace support crew and I visited Death Valley for neither the first nor last time. We stayed in the motel at Stovepipe Wells. I had my LHT with me for a few short rides interspersed with hiking.

One evening, returning from a ride, I encountered at the Stovepipe store three cross-USA riders from England. They were surprisingly unprepared and in rather sad shape, not knowing quite what they were getting themselves into when they entered Death Valley from the east side. Now they faced a long, hot, grueling climb from below sea level to Towne Pass at 4956 feet. They wanted to know if they rode back to Furnace Creek would it be possible to catch a bus that would carry them and their bikes all the way to the ocean so they could ride up the coast. Not likely.

After I helped clarify their imperfect grasp of geography and terrain, I ended up ferrying them out of the valley. My car would only accommodate one bike and one passenger at a time, so I made three trips from Stovepipe to the top of the pass -- about 20 minutes up, and 20 minutes back to Stovepipe for each trip -- in order to give them a boost one by one. That cost me about two hours of driving time, but saved them many more hours of hard pedaling.

And during each trip, I told the story of the Englishman who repaired my broken rack and saved my tour in Switzerland in 1983.

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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill Stone

That is such a great story, Bill.  We really do need a way to ‘like’ forum posts.  It helps knowing something about Death Valley too, and being able to appreciate what this climb is like.  I’m sure all of them have looked back on this with gratitude and shared the story with others countless times since then.

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1 month ago
Leo WoodlandTo Bill Stone

A British newspaper columnist called Miles Kington was cycling to work through London when one of his tyres punctured. He locked his bike to the railings of a park and carried on by bus.

When he returned after work to mend the puncture, he found that someone had done it for him, the tyre reinflated and his bike fit to ride.

He never found out who'd done it.

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1 month ago
John PescatoreTo Leo Woodland

Back in the 80s/90s there was a Cycle Across Maryland mass week long ride and they would usually stay at high schools with gym or outdoor camping options. One year they were staying at the high school in our town and my wife and I volunteered to help.

I was driving home from work and had just started to see riders when a horrendous thunder/lightning/wind storm moved in. A few miles later I saw a family of 4 who were obviously not experienced cyclists and they were turning off the route. I caught up to them and they said their cue sheets had disintegrated and it was nearly impossible to see any cardboard route arrows.

Got all 4 of their bikes in the back of my Ford Ranger Pickup and the two adults in the cab - the kids wanted to ride in the back in the deluge and the parents said OK! By the time we got them to the school, the worst of the storm had moved through.

Then  the school used up all the towels from the sports facilities and opened all the classrooms for indoor sleeping. We spent hours moving desks and chairs so they'd have room for sleeping bags. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun.

I ended up doing CAM (from Cambridge MD to Towson MD, including a ferry ride over the Chesapeake Bay from Rock Hall to Baltimore) a few years later but I think it petered out not long after that.

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1 month ago
Bill StoneTo Leo Woodland

Leo, are you confessing to perpetrating that kind deed yourself?

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1 month ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Leo Woodland

Not being caught doing it is the essence of paying it forward .

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1 month ago
Keith AdamsTo John Pescatore

Perhaps we've ridden together, then: I did CAM every summer from 1994 through 1998.  I know they fostered kindness and courtesy through a "Random Acts of Kindness" initiative, aimed at encouraging people to be on the lookout for (and then act on) opportunities to be extra-nice to someone, "just because".

The night we stayed at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring was memorable not because of the weather, but because a construction accident had severed the main gas line that fed the building.  That took the main kitchen facility offline, as well as the boilers so there was neither food nor hot water for showers.  Everyone was scrambling to find alternatives; I doubt there was a pizzeria within 20 miles that didn't make multiple deliveries to the school that evening.

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1 month ago
John PescatoreTo Keith Adams

I rode CAM the year it started out by going from Cambridge to Federalsburg to Chestertown, with that last leg being the century from hell - temps in high 90s, headwinds for the last 40 miles from Dover into Washington College. People were dropping like flies.

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1 month ago
Keith AdamsTo John Pescatore

That was a year or two before I got involved.  But we had plenty of hot temperatures later on, and an epic soaking in Salisbury in 1994 along with severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings in Centerville.  

The night in Centerville they moved everyone into the school out of concern for our safety; you haven't really lived until you've spent a night "sleeping" three across on a stairway landing because it was the last and only flat spot to be had.

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1 month ago
Gregory GarceauTo Bill Stone

Ever since seeing this topic I've been trying to think of something--ANYTHING--I've ever done for another bicycle rider.  Other than providing directions to out-of-town riders a couple of times, I came up empty.  

Just now I remembered something a little more significant:  I was riding my bike a few years ago and saw a rider way up ahead.  I challenged myself to catch up to him.  I kept an eye on him and felt good about my speed and progress.  Then he just disappeared.  A couple minutes later, I found him lying in the grass underneath his bike, with a cracked helmet, and clearly concussed.

I called 9-1-1 and stayed with him until the ambulance arrived and hauled him to the hospital one block away.  That's easily the best thing I've ever done for a cyclist in need.  At the time I liked to think I saved his life, but the guy's crash happened along a fairly busy road so he would certainly have been "saved" by a passing motorist before too long.

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1 month ago