This week I was a work and got a call. At first all I could hear was laughter and then when they calmed down and recognized the voices of two lady school teachers that we met from Canada. On our tour summer of 04 my son and another father and son rode our bikes down the Pacific Coast. We met them at the hiker/biker site and then ran into them pretty much everynite for the next week.
We had alot of fun ongoing jokes. My son had done alot of filming of the trip including attaching a camera to his bike. We had sent them the footage and they were now watching and laughing remembering all the crazy things that happened, the crazy people we met and so forth. And decided to call.
Anyways it was a real treat to hear from them and meeting people and being able to stay in touch. Just wondered if any of you have met people while touring and than actually stayed in touch.
One of the most incredible experiences I had was on my first cross-country tourin 1987. I had a basic touring bike and I was riding along the rough, gravel service road along the Norfolk & Western RR tracks right where Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia meet. It proved too much for my bike, I guess, since the derailleur (not the cable) snapped.
Literally in the middle of nowhere - late October - drizzling rain - about a half-hour later along came the Rev. Sidney Collins on a ORV. I hopped on the back rack and held my bike - panniers and all - with my arms on my outstretched legs. We rode to Jolo and his wife fed me and washed my soaked clothes.
I'm guessing he was a self-taught minister in one of the denominations that use poisonous snakes in their services. They are often ridiculed in the mainstream media, but their faith is as strong as their economic situation precarious. We stayed at touch for about ten years thereafter - Christmas cards - a postcard every now and then from my later bike trips.
Custom built tourer, custom electric bike, beaters everywhere
I stealth camp, so I tend not to meet as many people. When I do, I'm usually the 'cool' person.
During my last tour I was biking along a canal path when I was overtaken by a local on a bike. He stayed beside me and chatted about Canada. He had been in Toronto years before.
Realising I had a source of local knowledge I started pumping him for info on where to buy food. He took me to a couple of shops. As a 'thank you' I bought him a glass of wine at a local pub by the canal lock. Even though it was the middle of October, we sat outside on the patio and watched the canal boats lock up and down.
He is a dentist, and is still interested in coming to Canada to set up a practise. I've been helping by providing info.
Riding along the Danube bike path somewhere in Germany in '04 a Spanish gentleman stopped and we talked for an hour or so then I said I need to get going again, He asked if I would mind if he rode with me for a while. I welcomed his company,,,,,,,,and our rideing lasted 3 days. his face and name was familiar but I had total memory block
We exchanged e mail addresses and mail adresses. When I returned home months later there was a package from him; 1/2 a dozen of the novels he has written, several of them I had bought and read, we exchange mails and cards regularly
One of my dearest friends is a german cyclist I met in a Swiss hostel and biked with to the French Alps. I went on several subsequent trips with him, as well as a friend of his who is now also a friend of mine. I have a good friend in Toronto who I met when our bikes crossed paths in NZ. I stay in touch with a Japanese cyclist I also met in NZ when we were holed up in a backpackers (hostel) while a cylone passed thru. When the skies cleared, we headed off together. I also stay in touch with a couple of French cyclists I met in Thailand. I visited an anglo-swiss couple I met and biked with in Corsica.
I regret not having exchanged addresses with several cyclists whose paths crossed mine: A British couple I met in Argentina. A German cyclist I met in the middle of nowhere in Chile. We spent several hours sitting in the shade of a tree and had an amazing conversation. I still can't fathom why we didn't exchange addresses.
To meet a fellow rider and not exchange addresses or fone #s is akin to going into a 2nd hand shop or consigment place or a garage/tag/yard sale and then seeing something you know you should get THEN, but say to self , "I'll stop by later"
Later either never comes or its GONE
I went out to Africa in Sept climbed the BIG Kahuna and then went on safari, at the last mo' 3 safari partners changed mind. I was placed with a companion,we had 6 days of the BEST times ever imaginable, her enthusiasim for the animals, birds and scenery overwhelmed me
We still correspond
Some silver ones, a black one, a red one, an orange one and a couple of titanium ones
When I set up my tent next to the fish gutting station## fishguts4.jpg ##just across the road from the corn dryers and just upwind from the pit toilet, I kind of figured that this was going to be a memorable night. No shower, dryer going 24/7 and a faint odor of dead fish just does not make for an overwhelming sense of anticipation. After all that I figured I'd ride up to the town to see if I could find something other than hot Gatorade to drink. 'Hey, young fella! Come over here and talk to me if you have the time.' Thus began one of the most interesting nights of my trip, if not my life.
The man calling me over was old, older than my parents. His hair was held back in a ponytail and was the color of January snow. His beard was the same color and almost as long as his hair. His name - and remember this if you ever find yourself just south of the Nebraska/Kansas line on the 40th parallel - was Wolf River Bob and a finer person you won't find within a thousand miles. I know because I traveled those thousand miles.
Wolf River Bob lives in the 'town' of White Cloud. White Cloud was the agency town for the Kansas Indian reservation which is just to the north in Nebraska. The town is built on the hills above the Missouri River and boast a campsite for Lewis and Clark. Between Brownsville, Nebraska and Atchison, Kansas, it has the only campsite to be found for us modern people who can't just pitch a tent anywhere we like. And the campsite is a bad one. The worst I have ever stayed at. It also boast that it is the founding place of the piggy bank movement.
In 1912, Wilbur Chapman had a pig. It was a large hog just about ready for market. But Wilbur wanted to do more than just sell the pig and collect the money. Wilbur had a heart as big as all outdoors and he wanted to send the money to the Lepers in the South Pacific. So Wilbur sold his pig and his story inspired other kids to save their money to send to the Lepers and they needed to find someplace to keep their money and what better place than a porcelain pig like Wilbur's. E. B. White even named his pig in Charlotte's Web after Wilbur Chapman.
White Cloud was also used for the filming of 'Paper Moon' with Ryan and Tatum O'Neil in the 1970's. It is home to one of the largest antique market festivals in the Midwest. You can see 4 states from a hill outside of town on a clear day.
All of this I learned in about 7 hours of hanging out with Wolf River Bob. Wolf River Bob was and/or is a Hollywood stuntman, an actor, a trick shot, a trick bullwhipper (does tricks with a 20 foot bullwhip), an entrepreneur, a mapper of the Lewis and Clark Trail, a restaurateur, a amateur archeologist, and a collector of bottles, tools, cars, wagons and houses. He is the self appointed official greeter for the town of White Cloud, self appointed official historian, probably the self appointed mayor, constable and city council to boot. He knows every minute of history from 10,000 B.C. to present in a 10 mile radius of White Cloud and he knows the hourly history of within a 200 mile radius of White Cloud. He has signatures in guest books of anyone who has stayed in the White Cloud area from 1972 to present (when he moved back from California) and he has the signatures for everyone he ever came in contact with in California for the 20 years before that. He will drive you around town for the nickel tour (for which you should get 4 cents back in change) and show you all of the sights including his plot of land on the hill that is available for weddings, rendezvous, primitive camping and reunions - pretty much free of charge.
But after nearly 2 weeks of hearing only my own voice when I yelled at the corn or the muttered 'Have a nice day' when you buy something, I would have listened to Wolf River Bob tell me every minute of 12,000 years of history and enjoyed all of it! He was the first person I meet on my travels who was interested in my journey and seemed to understand why I was making it - even if I didn't. Wolf River Bob has had enough experiences to fill 5 lifetimes and still he wants more. And he wants to share it with anyone who will listen. When I finally got to bed at 11 PM, I was dead tired but I was sorry that the day had finally ended.