The Kindness of Strangers


I woke up this morning to find that a storm had blown through overnight. Although the rain had stopped it was still an overcast morning – the low cloud cover meant that I was actually cycling through the clouds, which was a bit of a change from the sunny days that I have enjoyed so far on this trip. The weather report this morning said that there were tornados in Kansas overnight – so i don’t think I’ve seen the last of the bad weather.

Despite the hills, I made good time, and the improving weather meant that I had some pretty good views as I climbed further up into the Ozarks. I had gone about 35 miles from Farmington when I heard one of my rear spokes fly off. I had no way to fix it on the road, and had to decide whether to press on or turn back. I had a look on the Internet (courtesy of my iPhone) and found that there were no bike shops for the next 200 miles, but that there was one in Farmington, the place that I had just left. So I turned around, and cycled the 35 miles back to Farmington – only to find that the bike shop I had researched had closed 4 years ago.

I decided to check into a motel and assess my options, as I had already done 70 miles, through the hills, and was pretty tired and frustrated. When I went to check in I told the receptionist my problem. She was really helpful, and started looking for a local bike shop that could solve my problem. Her husband, John Bridges, had dropped by the motel to bring his wife a drink. He heard my problem, and phoned up a friend of his who told me about the bike shop that he used – which about 30 miles away.

John was amazing, he gave me a lift with my bike to the shop in his van (which was seriously loud!). When we got there however, the guy in the shop turned out to a bit of a maniac. He started telling me that he couldn’t even take a look at my bike until Tuesday, and in any case didn’t have the spokes that would fit my wheel, and so would have to build me a new wheel, which wouldn’t be ready to Thursday. He also told me that in order to change the spoke, I would have to remove my entire rear casette. He suggested that we try the other bike shop in town – which proved to be the best piece of advice he gave me!

We drove over there, and the guy running the shop had it fixed within about half an hour. I was really lucky that he had the right spokes for my wheel though, as it uses uncommon spokes – he only had the right ones as he had spares from a special order he had placed for another guy. He told us that he got a lot of customers coming over from the other shop talking about how crazy the other guy was. He also tweaked my gears, sold me some spare spokes, and a tool for replacing them. So hopefully i should be able to solve the problem myself if I brake another spoke.

I was really lucky that John was around to help me out, as Americans don’t have the same kind of public transport system that the UK has. My only option for getting to the bike shop (without riding my bike and risk further damaging my wheel) would have to take a taxi. Which would have been very expensive! Thanks to John and his wife I’ll be back on the road, without a major delay.

So despite a set back, and an entirely pointless 70 mile ride, I’m alright, ready to go, and have experienced the best side of the American people. As I’m writing this another thunder storm has started – and it’s a pretty violent one. Hopefully it will have passed by the time I get going tomorrow.

5 thoughts on “The Kindness of Strangers

  1. Having worried about your broken spoke all night, I could have cried when I looked at your blog this morning and read about the kindness shown to you by John. I don’t know if he will ever read this blog, but if he does a BIG thankyou from a very releaved mum! Hope you don’t get stuck in a thunder storm today…be careful (remember the lightening bolts in Yosemite!) Ly mum x

    • Hey there Ed

      How are you doing
      how many miles have you done now.
      Have you been chased by any other animals
      other than dogs yet.
      from Abigail perry

  2. Hi ed
    so pleased you met john the bike man, real answer to our prayers. We all had a bit of a cry Reading your mums comments made us all have a lump in our throats. Weather here good, driest April for years, will take the boat out soon. Lots of love, enjoy your day rest

  3. Hi Ed,
    Im so pleased you met John so he could take you to get your bike fixed,He was very kind. I am so proud that how many miles you have done. What kind of things are you eating?
    From Kerenza

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