As I cruised into Vermont on the tail-end of our coast to coast bicycle adventure, I lagged behind my friends Gerry and Don by an hour. We pedaled over hills, hills and more hills. Because I take a lot of pictures, I often fell back several miles. I call it the "pleasure pace" which means I enjoy every mile. Some call it "Eudemonia", "Satori", or "The Perfect Speed." I've discovered over the years that bicycling pertains to more of a spiritual experience than a physical one. No, I'm not saying it's a picnic busting over a 12,000-foot pass in the Rocky Mountains, but then, the views more than compensate.
Suddenly, my rear tire suffered a flat. "Oh crap," I muttered to myself. "Those guys will be drinking beers and eating dinner by the time I catch up to them."
No matter, I stopped near a cable guardrail. As you can see from the load on my bike "Condor", I had to pull a lot of gear off the back to get to the wheel. Just as I pulled the wheel from the dropouts, an SUV passed me and honked. I waved.
As with all flat tires, I peeled the tire off the rim. I checked the tube, found the glass chard that cut it, and patched it. I checked the rim tape for problems, checked the tire for any other foreign objects and replaced it back onto the rim. After pumping it up, I dropped my solid axle back into the dropouts, replaced the nuts and aligned it. Then, I replaced the brake cables on the cantilever brakes. All in all, I spent 45 to 50 minutes.
After making sure the bike was roadworthy, I replaced my enormous pack (80 pounds), and bungee-corded it all back onto the rack. At that moment, I pulled my water bottle for a swig to quench my thirst. As I sat on the piling of the guard rail, that same SUV rolled to a stop across the highway. A kid jumped out with a pizza box and two cans of lemonade. He ran across the highway toward me.
(My bike loaded for touring with 80 pounds of gear.)
"My dad said you might like some refreshments," he said. "He remembers when he rode his bicycle across the country after finishing college. He still talks about it. It was the best time of his life. He's got an 8"X10" photo of him and his buddies celebrating on the Atlantic Ocean."
"Well thank you," I said, as I waved to the entire family.
They all smiled. "Safe travels," the father said. I waved, "Back at you!"
They drove off. I sat there realizing that my two buddies were eating dinner and drinking beers up ahead, but as I sat there munching on the MOST incredible and tasty pizza of my life, to this day, it will be the greatest pizza that I ever ate. Why? Because it was given to me on a very hot day in Vermont on a very lonely road. It rewarded me for fixing my flat tire. It tingled my tastebuds like no other pizza because of the kindness of other human beings. When I finished, I placed the empty pizza box on top of my pack. With the last gulp of lemonade, I flattened the two cans to be recycled when I reached the next town. I remounted Condor and pedaled east with a big smile across my face and an even bigger one across my spirit.
"Damn," I muttered to myself. "Sometimes, flat tires are a good thing!"
"Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change." – Bob Kerrey
With that reality, over the years, I have always passed "kindness" forward. I compliment the store clerk about her necklace or ear rings. I thank the waitress for her exemplary service with an extra tip. I salute the passing police officer. It takes almost nothing to smile at anyone passing or giving a kind word. Even when I pass the homeless on a street corner, I give them a few dollars for food.
It's wrapped up in this quote: "Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver." – Barbara De Angelis
Bless you on your bicycle on your own individual journey.
Frosty Wooldridge, 6 continent world bicycle traveler
-- Frosty Wooldridge
Population-Immigration-Environmental specialist: speaker at colleges, civic clubs, high schools and conferences
Facebook: Frosty Wooldridge
Facebook Adventure Page: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World
Six continent world bicycle traveler
Adventure book: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World
Frosty Wooldridge, six continent world bicycle traveler, Astoria, Oregon to Bar Harbor, Maine, 4,100 miles, 13 states, Canada, summer 2017, 100,000 feet of climbing: