As we all know, I am cold and callous, it works well for me. I am not quite a “HEY YOU KIDS! GET OFF MY LAWN!” curmudgeon, but I am taking lessons to get there!
That being said, when I am on the bike, riding for fun, a training ride, or a commute, I always ask the riders changing tires or fiddling with their bikes if they need anything. Over the years it has become a automatic reflex. Most of the time I ask on the fly, and keep going when I hear “NOPE!’ or “I’m GOOD!”, so it was a bit of a surprise when I heard “YES I DO!”….
The “YES I DO!” answer was the one I gave a year ago when I tried every trick I knew to fix a flat!
My spare tube was bad, the patch kit was shot (old and brittle) and the week prior my frame pump broke after years of being on the bike! I was stranded 11 miles from anywhere, and walking the bike back, when I was rescued. (See: We take care of each other!)
My rescuer,Aaron, provided me with a tube and a CO2 cylinder. He got me back on the road so I could ride to civilization, resupply the bike, and then go on a different ride that day!
Yesterday, I had the chance to pay it forward!
After working in the North end office, I took advantage of a great weather day, plus getting done early with a class I was teaching, to do a longer ride. I decided to ride to the downtown office and drop off my laptop and then ride home. About a 35 mile total trip.
I dropped off the laptop, answered a question for my boss (to justify getting paid for the bike ride) and headed off to home. Which brings me to the paying it forward.
I was cruising along the Burke-Gilman trail, about 7 miles from home, and saw a bike upside down and what was clearly an experienced rider working on a tire. I asked if he needed anything, expecting a “NOPE!”. It took me a second to realized he said “YES!”, stop and turn around.
It turns out his spare tube was bad, lord knows I understand this! To make matters worse, he couldn’t find his patch kit. He asked me if I could spare a patch. “SURE!”, said I, and I dug into the panniers to find…. NO PATCH KIT!!! Then it hit me, during last weeks Tour de Blast I moved everything to the yellow trunk bag.
Which of course was sitting at home!! SUCKASS!! You would think I would have learned!
But, what I did have was a spare tube. I pulled it out and handed it over. He was reluctant to accept it knowing it was my only tube and that I had no patch kit. So I lied and said I was almost home! (7 miles left of a 17 mile commute is kinda almost!) I decided to put my faith in karma and the cycling gods that I would make it home.
With a wave and nod I was off! And with a smile on my face.
We cyclist DO take care of each other. When I got the flat a mile from the end of the Oregon Coast, Rob refused to ride ahead, instead hanging with me as I walked.
The guy who rescued me last year had to cross the Hood Canal bridge and then turn around to help me. Then get turned around again to get where he was going. I had no cash on me, and felt terrible I couldn’t pay him for it. He told me to just pay it forward when I had the chance.
Yesterday afternoon the chance did! This doesn’t mean I will stop checking on riders, it’s what we do! But now I can say that Aaron’s selflessness with helping me has now been paid forward. I hope somehow he knows that!
Like the wind!