I had a wonderful weekend.

Saturday I met up with ten close friends for a ride from Rancho Vistoso to Mammoth, AZ. Not a hard ride, but not too easy. The 65-mile ride from Rancho Vistoso to Oracle is a slight grade, perhaps 1% for 20 miles. From there, it is a 7% freefall for 12.5 miles to Mammoth. Of course, there is the obligatory 2000+/- climb back to Oracle on the return trip, but it wasn’t too bad. Except for the headwind….
I was pulling a group of 6 riders at about 21 mph into the wind when we ran thru some rather large gravel. I called it out, looked down to check my wheels for some reason. When I looked up, right in front of me was a large piece of beer bottle. From behind, I heard the rest of the pack hit it… while I heard the life bleed out of my front tire. I pulled off, and the damage was bad…. a large smile shaped gash, several cm large jeered at me. Dangit, those were nearly new tires…. A friend offered me a mylar boot, but I didn’t want to waste it, since the tire was trashed. So, into the tire went a new tube, with a $1 bill as a boot (man, that works great!). Figured it was because my karma cup ran dry….

Fortunately, I had prepared to appease the karmic gods. Sunday, I was scheduled to work with my best friend at stop 1 and 3 of the Coolidge Century for the local bike club, Greater Arizona Cycling Association (GABA). I volunteer to help with at least one ride a year, to pay back all the great support the club gives on its rides. Refilling the karma cup….

We weren’t supposed to be set up until 9 am, but there were some folks waiting who got an early start. When we arrived at 8:45, there was a crowd of thirsty and hungry cyclists waiting for us, who knew they were early. They helped us set up, and the rest of the day went great. The rain that TWC predicted held off, and the winds weren’t all that bad.

Two events made today exceptionally great. On the way to the SAG, I took the route the cyclist took, in case someone had a problem. Along the way, we saw a cyclist with a BOB trailer and 4 panniers on a beat-up Specialized Crossroads heading up the frontage road along I-10 (the Route). No helmet, but he looked at peace with himself. As with all the riders, I hit the flashers, slowed down to pass, and waved as we passed. He waved in return. A couple of hours after we passed him, I saw him approach. I gave a big wave, and invited him to stop. He pulled in to oblige me.

I stood there chatting with him, and in the course of our conversation, I learned that he was heading to the California coast, heading up through Oregon, over to Montana, looking for work. He’s heard there is a lot of construction work in Montana, and was heading out looking for work. He’d been in Tucson working at the Gem and Mineral show, and made enough money to keep him on the road for a few months. He was pretty shy, and was thankful for my offers to help himself to whatever he wanted from our rather overstuffed food coffers. When he didn’t act, I took it as though he wanted to collect himself. I helped my partner with the cyclists that had stopped by, but he stood apart from the crowd while I worked.

When the crowd cleared, I went back to talk with him. Seems he’s been on the road for several years, just biking from one place to the next, working where he can, and seeing the country. He’s the ultimate free spirit, no home, just wandering. And I was so envious. He couldn’t settle down anywhere, had no need for all the entrapments of modern life. Since he didn’t seem to want to be a bother, I went back to the SAG, loaded up as much food as I could carry, and dumped it into his handlebar bag. My offer of water was met with a reply of “No man thanks. I got enough. He lifted his kickstand, mounted his steed, and rode off with a wave, and a hearty “Thank You”.

The second great thing was a return rider from the century turn-around. She looked whipped. I asked her how it was going, and she told me she had a sharp pain inside her right knee. Turns out she was on a new bike, and this was her first century. She’d done several 50 milers before, but never attempted a century. After some consultation with some other cyclists, and a couple looks at her position on the bike, it was determined that perhaps for now, the best thing was to move her saddle back to correct her knee/pedal position. At the Start/End, she was in much better shape, and said the change really helped. The pain was subsiding. I cautioned her to take a few days off, and nurse her knee, and she seemed to know how to deal with it. I congratulated her on completing her first century, and ran back to the truck to figure out how to get all this stuff back to the club storage shed.

Karma comes to those who search for it. ALWAYS lend a hand to kindred spirits. HELP YOUR LOCAL BIKE CLUB!!!! It is true that 10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work. Take a day off from one ride, volunteer to help out and help those kind souls. Even if it means that you will miss a ride, it will give some volunteer a chance to ride. If we all do our part, the load is so much lighter on everyone. As an added bonus, it will make you feel better about participating in a club-sponsored ride. I know I can ride for the next year guilt free!

Hey, I’ll get flats in the future. They happen. But, I’ll look back on today and remember that I did my part, and my actions helped someone. And next year I’ll do my part, and refill my karma cup. That’s what it takes to make the world a better place.

Not bragging, merely humbled by the events of the weekend.

Peace,

Karl