Touring - nice people on the road and in towns(inspiring thread)
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09-03-05, 12:44 AM
i'm interested in hearing about nice stories about people. just in general(offers, free food, etc.) my intention is that this thread can be an inspiring thread for newbies and not so newbies. the other intention is to offer expression to those who have had a spiritual and/or cultural experience from a person, comm, or landscape. i want this thread to last for the purpose of inspiration for people that are just not sure. i hope everyone will enjoy thanks for any input. :)
Sorry this thread hasn't taken off....
A couple summers ago I was on a cross-Canada tour, and was 3/4 of the way across the huge province of Ontario. It was terribly hot - in the 90's with humidity of 80 to 90%. I stopped at a small town Info center in a beautiful park by a small lake. The Info center was closed, so I decided to just stay in the park. While I was filling up my water carrier, a couple with 2 kids and a golden lab drove up and stopped. He came over to me immediately (the guy, not the dog!) and had at least a hundred question, and seemed to be fascinated by the thought of a big ole fat guy crossing the country.
After a quick consultation with his wife, he invited me to join them at their cabin on a lake a few miles away. So we put my bags in the back, the bike on top of their mini-van and drove to their wonderful rustic cabin on a gorgeous lake. They treated me like a long lost relative: soft bed, hot shower, great meals, fun kids. The next morning, I could hardly force myself to get going... and finally I got up the courage to ask them if I could stay another day. Their response? "Well, we wanted to ask you, but we didn't want to interfere with your heavy schedule...."
Ha! What schedule? That second day was heavenly - that night I had to say to them, "No matter how much I whine and beg tomorrow morning, you have to kick me out of here!"
09-05-05, 06:28 AM
BigGuy, that's a great story with an even better punchline. :D
Hey thanks, AA. When you're on the road for long trips these encounters become very important for moral.
Here's another one: On that same trip I was riding a rural highway thru Quebec, avoiding the ride thru Montreal. I'd put on about 115 km, it was about 4 pm, it was hot (90's), but a beautiful day for a ride. My first day in Quebec. "Well, it's time to start looking for a campsite..."
Almost immediately I noticed an acerage on the right..."hmmm....nice buildings, surrounded by trees"...rode on..."very nice yard"....rode on...."nice swimming pool"....rode on..."swimming pool ! " Classic mental double take. So stopped, turned around and rode back.
Now, my high school French has been long forgotten and I approached the door with great trepidation. A lady answered with 3 kids peeking around her. I tried out my one practiced phrase: "Mon francaise est tres pauvre...parley vous Anglais?" ("My French is very poor...do you speak English?") The worst possible response: "Non". So I stumbled and stuttered around and with a few words and a lot of red-faced gesturing managed to get her to understand I was asking permission to camp for the evening. She said something like: "Un moment, Je telephone mon mari." So she shut the door and went to telephone her husband, and a couple minutes later came out, smiled and said, "Oui". Now, how do you ask for permission to use the pool when you don't have a clue for the word for "pool" or "swimming"? Lots of indeciferable gestures from me...finally she smiled, "Ah oui,xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, xxxxxxxxx".
So I set up my camp in behind a small building, near the pool of course, then changed into my swimming trunks and had a wonderful, luxurious swim...it was heaven! Finally decided it was time for supper and dragged myself back to the tent and started supper prep. All of a sudden, the lady comes around the building, carrying a plate full of supper for me!!
My fears about biking thru Quebec were completely resolved.
09-05-05, 04:14 PM
Those are great stories. I think the way people treat you is one of the great parts of touring. To me its like back home I'm just a regular guy but on a bike tour I get treated like a super hero. So many people want to know what its like, where we are from, how far we are going ect. It just seems that on a bike people are more trusting and willing to come and talk to you out of the blue.
We made some great friends that we met at the hiker/biker sites down the pacific coast and still stay in contact a year later. It was funny to me, as soon as we were picked up at the end of the trip we became just anyone in a truck. It was interesting how all the interest in meeting us ended.
09-05-05, 07:46 PM
I am really hoping to work up the stamina to begin touring in the next year or two. Thanks for sharing these stories ... they inspire me to work even harder to make it happen.
Big guy ... how big? I am doubly inspired that I am not the only self-described fat guy out on a bike! I am 6'7", 365 lbs (but shrinking quickly!).
09-05-05, 10:02 PM
If you really want to meet a lot of nice people on tour, take a young woman with you ;) Really. In 2003 I toured the midwest from S. Dakota to St. Louis solo. I talked to maybe 5 people in 1000 miles of travel over 3 weeks. By the end of the trip nobody wanted to come near me because I was arguing with myself...loudly!
This August, I decided to torture...um, introduce... my 19 year old daughter to bicycle touring. We did the Lewis and Clark Trail from Missoula, MT to Astoria, OR and, although we didn't get any invitations to stay in anyone's house (like I did in Columbia, Missouri), we had more people ask about our trip then in all of the midwest! People wouldn't talk to me but they would ask my daughter questions about our trip and then I could jump in. I still argued with myself but I was quieter about it ;)
We had a man buy our coffee for us in Clatskaine, OR and talk to us about our trip. We had a whole town treat us like celebrities in charming (and very friendly) Dayton, WA. And we saved a young Native American girl from being drowned in a water balloon fight in Roosevelt, WA. (Actually, she started it and just used us as a shield from reprisals. But she was really polite about it!)
People are basically good where ever you go. The only people I have trouble with are a few jerk drivers but few of them are malicious. Most of 'em are just ignorant about how close they are passing. I've had people give me snacks on the top of Trail Ridge Road. I've had a few invite me to their homes. I've even invited a few to my home (something I suggest we all try). Even the RV crowd can be quite nice.
Get out and go. The next person you meet could be your best friend. Just take a young woman with you. It saves on loud arguments.
On a tour through Ohio Amish country I was confronted by a rapidly approaching thunderstorm. Looking around for some kind of temporary shelter, I came upon a Mennonite church with a large overhanging porch. Pushing my rig through the loose gravel, I reached the overhang just as the storm hit. From the looks of things there seemed to be nobody around for miles. And although the church was most likely locked, I was quite content to wait out the storm under that overhang.
After standing there for half an hour, I distinctly hear the "clippity clop", "clippity clop" of horses hooves approaching on the wet, narrow, one lane road. An Amishman in a buggy came into view; tearing through the gravel he almost flipped the buggy as he went flying to the rear of the church.
Uh oh, thinks I, he's probably the caretaker going in the back door, grabbing the shotgun only to appear through the front door and either shoot me or at the very least, threaten to shoot me for trespassing.
At that point, I was not sure what to do. I could get the hell out of there fast, before he had a chance to unlock the front door or I could stand my ground, hoping I could convince him that I was a harmless cyclist simply trying to keep dry. I chose the latter.
Fifteen minutes go by, then twenty. Finally I hear the "clippity clop", "clippity clop" sound again, this time from the side of the church. Around the corner he comes, traveling at a much slower rate of speed and keeping the buggy on four wheels. I prepare my story and rub my worn out rabbit's foot one last time. Spotting me, he flashes a big, silly, grin and waves like I was an old neighbor. I nervously return the wave and he "clippity clops" away and out of sight.
Another fifteen minutes go by and the rain begins to subside, my curiosity is so powerful I leave my bike leaning on the rail and tiptoe around the church to investigate. What could he have been doing back there that required a full speed, slide to a stop entry, and a normal walking speed exit? He obviously wasn't as concerned with me as I had feared. Something related to the Amish world, that I may never understand, had just occurred and I was hoping to stumble upon the solution.
Peeping carefully around the corner of the quirky little church, I had my answer.
Twenty yards behind the church was an outhouse!
For the rest of the tour my fermenting brain was filled with vivid images of an old Amishman hopping cross-legged from a smoking buggy to that tumbledown outhouse.
Hey Mahoolihan! You got me beat - I'm only 6'3" and was 295. I just developed an atrial fibrillation problem so I'm temporarily off the bike - but still have to lose weight. I'm on the South Beach diet and have managed to drop some 30 lbs. BTW when you start solo touring you can go your own pace and distance ... you don't have to be sveldt for that.
Here's another story: My latest tour's goal is to bike from the Gulf of Mex (Corpus Christi, TX) to the Arctic Ocean (Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories) in 2 summers. After a 130 km day from N. Oklahoma to a small town (Conroy Springs) in Kansas I stopped at a store for groceries, and asked directions to the town park. Found a beautiful park - 2 square blocks of big trees, and the spring, washrooms, even picnic tables. Did my usual evening chorse, and after supper was writing my day's journal entry when a couple came by with 2 little kids to ask the usual questions. She said they saw me riding down Main Street, and they just had to come over and meet me. (Ego swells here...) Then she said she runs the small restaurant on Main, and invited me there for breakfast the next morn. Well, I'll take a free meal anytime!
The next morning during breakfast, she asked if I'd mind talking to her older son (18ish) - (she said he was ticked the night before because they didn't tell him they were coming to the park to chat with me.) So he left his school classes and then decided he'd like to write an article for the local paper - so an interview and pictures were a part of the deal too.
Kinda slowed down my start that day, but what a morale booster!
Im touring from Alaska to Argentina at the moment and have many many stories of undescribale generosity and freindship that has changed my life forever. If i were to repay them all i would need more than this lifetime to do so.
I was cycling through Baja California when i snapped my back wheel in several places, having only had the wheel for a few months i contacted Sun and explained the situation to them and they said that a town called Hermosillo had a dealer that could help, as luck would have it or as i thought luck, we were able to take the ferry directly across and only have a 100 km ride to get to Hermosillo.
Whilst riding into the town i fell into a grate that ran the same way as your wheel turns, i wasnt hurt but got up and actually laughed i couldnt believe id fell off in such a stupid postion, i stopped laughing when i saw that id actually snapped my top tube. I was in tears at the side of the road for a long time, and then spent the rest of the day in daze feeling completely gutted. A man approached called Carlos who launched into the usual questions, how far do you come a day, and i was just going to tell him i wasnt in the modd when he said i could stay at his place and they would hwelp me out, i stayed for over two weeks and they fed me helped me get the bike welded and were really cool.
I wasnt sure about the quailty of the welding considering the long distance i still had left and decided to go to America to get some advice from people that i could communicate with, so me and my girlfriend Anna Marie set of hitch hiking me carrying a batterd bike frame and her my broken back wheel, we get to Tucson and are walking around trying to get a lift when a car pulls up and asks if we need help, it was very hot so we accepted. Thats how we met Dean and Leila, they took us to various bike shops and then to a bike co op where a man confirmed my worst fears about the welding but as we were leaving he came running out with the offer of a replacement for free, i couldnt believe i really thought hat my tour was over and then one chance event foolowed another to culminate in a solutiojn to all my problems.
If that wasnt cool enough me and anna marie and dean and leila forged a friendship that i believe is heaven sent we are in contcat all the time and actually spent a great week together in Southern Utrah and Arizona visiting the canyons of that area. Theirt friendship is without a doubt the best gift ive ever recieved, im so happy to know them not because of what i got out of it but because they are just the best people ever. This journey is the most important ive ever been on it has humbled me to a point wher i can grow and that i have to thank the many people that have shown me the kindness of their hearts.
Ride on all love and peace rich
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