Author Topic: The kindness of strangers  (Read 3229 times)

Wascally Weasel

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The kindness of strangers
« on: 06 October, 2009, 07:47:34 pm »
Was on a mini-tour last week in the Scottish Borders, taking in part of the Wigtown book (and whisky) festival.  Riding behind Ms Weasel, I failed to notice a cateye holder a bit further out in the road than I was expecting and hit it with the side of my rear tyre (I know, all my own fault).  Everything seemed fine at first until about 10 miles from Dalry, I felt that the sidewall was starting to give.  I was heavily laden with panniers so it was only a matter of time before it finally gave out.

Anyway - a quick google from Ms Weasel's phone showed that there were no (open) cycle shops nearby.  Fortunately I made it to Dalry where I asked at the local shop (mercifully still open at 4pm on a Sunday) - the owner was a cyclist and while he didn't have any spare tyres knocking about himself, he knew someone who probably would, phoned him then sent me on my way up the road to his house.

This other man gave me an old tyre, good enough to get me to Dumfries, our destination for the next day.

Not long after, I was outside my hotel (The Clachan Inn) about to put the tyre on when the tyre donor turned up with a spare unused tyre that had been sitting in his shed for ages, saying that the one he had given me earlier wouldn't be good enough - I had a bit of a job getting him to accept any money for it too - definitely leaves me in debt on the 'pay it forward' principle. Looking forward for my chance to pass the good deed on.

It made a real difference to my trip - I was able to enjoy my evening and to take the longer road via Moniaive as I had planned rather than have to pick the shortest route and hope my tyre would last.

Great to know that amidst all the media rubbish about the country being a mean and selfish place that it's actually sometimes full of a lot of good people (including the man in the shop who arranged it - we met him on the road the next day).


rogerzilla

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Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #1 on: 06 October, 2009, 08:25:36 pm »
But you would, wouldn't you?  For a fellow cyclist, especially a long-distance one?
Hard work sometimes pays off in the end, but laziness ALWAYS pays off NOW.

toekneep

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Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #2 on: 06 October, 2009, 08:28:27 pm »
I wish people would post more stories like that. Sometimes the forum leaves me feeling that my pastime is one of the most dangerous and hated ones I could possibly choose. In practice I think most people are actually really decent.

Regulator

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Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #3 on: 06 October, 2009, 08:30:48 pm »
I fixed a POB's wheel today, on my journey home.

I even suggested he try a real bike rather than a BSO...  ;D
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I completely agree with Reg.

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Basil

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Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #4 on: 06 October, 2009, 09:48:21 pm »
But you would, wouldn't you?  For a fellow cyclist, especially a long-distance one?

There you go. 

That's it.
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Redlight

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Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #5 on: 06 October, 2009, 10:08:31 pm »
But you would, wouldn't you?  For a fellow cyclist, especially a long-distance one?

There you go. 

That's it.

Not necessarily a long distance one.  Many years ago, riding home through London late at night, I came up behind a cyclist whose rear llght was looking pretty dim. She hadn't realised this and was a bit concerned so I "loaned" her a couple of batteries.  It's just what you do and I have been repaid with many acts of kindness from fellow cyclists over the years.
Why should anybody steal a watch when they can steal a bicycle?

Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #6 on: 06 October, 2009, 11:40:27 pm »
Leaving Gamlingay (at 11pm) on LEL there was a Belgian who had no rear light (well, the batteries were dead in his), he received a few shouts from people (including me) probably without understanding them. We caught up with him and I unclipped one of my spares and handed it to him, he raced off up the road and, by the time we caught him up again, he'd found a way to clip it on and carry on, now safely lit.

Through my poor French (and Xav's better French) we worked out he'd had a pretty torrid time with the weather but he was surprised at the constant help and encouragement he was given by other riders, volunteers and complete strangers on LEL.

I felt warm and fuzzy for a bit, before realising I still had 60km to go and I was entering the final section of reasonable hills with 4 cans of 1664 in my rackpack. ;)
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

mattc

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Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #7 on: 07 October, 2009, 10:01:21 am »
On Sunday, posibly Herefordshire, riding a little ahead of Ross, I unknowingly missed a turning so stopped to wait at the next cross-roads. For about 10 minutes.

Cue moton pulling up, winds down window. I pretend to be on the phone so they don't ask me directions (the usual reason for drivers talking to cyclists):

Excuse me, are you cycling with someone else?

Err, yeah ... ?

He's about 2 miles back that way, with his arms crossed looking grumpy.

Oh, right thanks!

Would you like a lift back there?

<embarrased> No that's fine, it's not far, thanks again!

---------------
I'll try to resist ranting about the spotty-youth-driven Fiesta encountered in Presteigne earlier
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Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #8 on: 07 October, 2009, 11:25:05 am »
Though not experiencing it directly (other than the heart-warming kindness from the volunteers at all the controls) I heard of many instances of the kindness of strangers to riders on LEL.  Several of these occurred, coincidentally (or maybe not so), in the borders, not so far from WW's example.  Salvatore may be along later to tell of the pub landlady in Brampton. 

And, not quite the Borders, but Roberto the Italian, with little English and on his own in the rain and gale, knocked on a random door in Alston looking for shelter, and was put up by an elderly couple for a few hours:  "They have no bambino - I was their bambino".

Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #9 on: 07 October, 2009, 11:32:10 am »
... and was put up by an elderly couple for a few hours:  "They have no bambino - I was their bambino".
Aww.  :D  :'(  ;D
Lovely.

TheLurker

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Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #10 on: 07 October, 2009, 12:46:07 pm »
It's not just the long distance types that get help...

I was stuck in Witney with a puncture and a dead pump only half way to work on a freezing, dark March morning 4 or 5 years ago when a bloke (called Nigel as it happens) stopped to see if could help.  He drove home, got a spare tube (just in case), a spare pump and, thoughtful chap that he was, a flask of coffee.



Τα πιο όμορφα ταξίδια γίνονται με τις δικές μας δυνάμεις - Φίλοι του Ποδήλατου

Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #11 on: 07 October, 2009, 01:18:52 pm »
Small one: I was once sitting by a bus stop in a small town in Greece, waiting for a bus which I'd managed to work out from the information on the stop would take me where I wanted to go. It was hot, I'd been there a while, & there was nowhere around to get a cold drink. A bloke came up to me, and asked where I was going. I told him, & he muttered something about a long wait.

Some minutes later, he returned, carrying two chilled bottles & an opener. He sat down beside me, opened both & gave me one, saying he'd phoned up to check the bus timetable, & we had plenty of time to finish them. Saw me onto the bus half an hour later, & took his empties back.  :thumbsup:

Many, many, more. Some of them even involve bicycles.
"A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Type-Writer Girl, 1897

John Henry

Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #12 on: 07 October, 2009, 07:16:44 pm »
Quite a lot, mostly involving bikes, hammering rain, and shelter being offered.

Ignore what the tabloids say. Most people the world over are really nice, especially if they can see that you're in a spot of bother.  :)

But yes, particularly for other cyclists, it's what you do. There's a certain amount of self-interest in it, as I'd be worried and guilty if I didn't, and from time to time I need the karma back again.

JH

Salvatore

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Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #13 on: 07 October, 2009, 07:52:57 pm »
... and was put up by an elderly couple for a few hours:  "They have no bambino - I was their bambino".
Aww.  :D  :'(  ;D
Lovely.

I think I should point out that Roberto's first task was to disuade his hosts from calling the police.
Quote
et avec John, excellent lecteur de road-book, on s'en est sortis sans erreur

Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #14 on: 07 October, 2009, 07:54:17 pm »
On tour a couple of years ago Brittany. Had been hammering down all day and looked like continuing, so we decided it might be better to got for a B+B that evening rather than camping as originally planned, especially as we had our 1.5 year old in his trailer behind us. Nothing booked of course, so rolled up to random B+B just as a car arrived. They (a German couple) were also calling in on spec, but very generously had already decided that if there was only 1 room free (as indeed was the case) that we could have it as it looked like our need was greater. We were ever so grateful.

Earlier the same day (in the pouring rain you'll recall) we'd hit the outskirts of town at lunchtime and couldn't work out where there was anywhere to eat. Happened to see a club cyclist heading back to his clubhouse, so we asked for directions for an eaterie. He tried to explain, but in the end decided it was easier to ride in front to show us where to go. He ended up getting far wetter than he needed to and was almost certainly late for his lunch. People can be really kind!

αdαmsκι

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Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #15 on: 07 October, 2009, 08:07:34 pm »
I was cycling through London when the front rim on my bike gave up and I ended up walking. Someone offered me an inner tube, which was really thoughtful of him. Unfortunately, he couldn't conjure up a front wheel for me! I've also helped people, the most recent I can think of being the couple who I found near Penrith who were doing the C2C. It was pissing down and seeing a bike upside down and a guy looking at the transmission part of the bike isn't a good sign. I stopped and discovered the bike chain was broken, as was their chain tool. I provided toolage and they were most happy.

I've received numerous counts of kindness when I've been travelling in foreign places and have discovered a positive relationship between the perceived dodginess of a country and the kindness of it's inhabitants.
What on earth am I doing here on this beautiful day?! This is the only life I've got!!

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Rimnod

Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #16 on: 07 October, 2009, 08:56:48 pm »
Post this on another forun in Sep this year

To the gentleman who stopped on the Denhead to Peat Inn road in a rural part of NE Fife this afternoon, to make sure I was alright, thank you for your consideration.
I gave a hamstring a sharp tug, honking up a hill and was forced to perform a rapid stop and abandonment, resulting in me dropping the bike on the grass verge while clutching the back of my left leg.
When I spoke to the driver of the Laguna to confirm that I was alright he mentioned that he was a cyclist.
So, on the off chance you read this. Thank you.

rogerzilla

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Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #17 on: 07 October, 2009, 09:13:35 pm »
I have previously recounted the story of my father-in-law driving along the A1120 at 4am to collect me from Dunwich.  He sees a cyclist (off-piste slightly) with a totally wrecked rear wheel. 

"Are you going to Dunwich?" he asks.  What are the chances of someone turning up at that time of day with an empty estate car, going to a godforsaken carpark on the North Sea?

The bloke hugged him, apparently.
Hard work sometimes pays off in the end, but laziness ALWAYS pays off NOW.

Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #18 on: 07 October, 2009, 09:27:42 pm »
I have previously recounted the story of my father-in-law driving along the A1120 at 4am to collect me from Dunwich.  He sees a cyclist (off-piste slightly) with a totally wrecked rear wheel.  

"Are you going to Dunwich?" he asks.  What are the chances of someone turning up at that time of day with an empty estate car, going to a godforsaken carpark on the North Sea?

The bloke hugged him, apparently.

Similarly.  On the Dun Run.  I spy a cyclist at the side of the road.

"You ok?"
"Dunno.  Bike not working"
"Ah yes, you have broken 4 spokes"
"Is that bad?"
"Nope.  It looks like I have more than enough spares, which length would you like?"


I don't post this to blow my own trumpet, but more to ask who's the idiot who took sufficient spare spokes (in 3 lengths) and nipples, and cassette tool and chain whip and adjustable spanner and spoke key and other required tools on a 110 mile ride.

I hadn't before and haven't since.  Wierd innit.  Why did I get the feeling I needed them?

Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #19 on: 07 October, 2009, 09:42:24 pm »
In Waikiki I met a girl called Carol, and Australian from Melbourne and two guys from Sydney, we shared a room in the hostel. Carol had met a girl from New Zealand on a boat trip and arranged to meet her later in the evening. She invited us three guys along too. We met this girl in a hotel where her father was staying on his way back to NZ, he was talking to some associates and suggested the five of us might like to go to his room to sup his duty free liquor while he finished his business in the bar. We did. Across the balcony I got talking to two couples who where having drinks on their balcony. They all lived in Auckland, one guy was Scottish, his partner was English, another guy was a Kiwi and his wife English. On hearing that I was heading there, the Kiwi/English couple invited me to stay with them. As it happened I'd arrive while they were still in Hawaii so on my departure from NZ, as I'd fly out of Auckland I gave them a call. I was made very welcome in their home, invited to treat it like my home, they made a fuss of me and showed me where they kept the spare key and from the first morning where happy to leave me their alone while they went to work. The other couple held a barbecue in my honour so I could meet their daughter and her friends. Which I did.

On my second trip to NZ I called Bob & Beryl, since that was their names, again but they already had house guests but told me to call Lisa, the daughter of the lady in the other couple, the English lady. I'd alerted them of my impending arrival by postcard. Lisa met me at her new flat and let me in while she went back to work, she was a TV assistant producer with Sky TV  and worked late. Again someone left me home alone. Not just that, she had had to move house with her flatmate because in between my first and second visits they had been broken into and the flatmate raped in her own bed. This girl returned home while I was there alone and was still OK about being in the house with me.

In Taupo, New Zealand I burned my leg on a pot belly stove. About 3"x 2". After 3 days of cycling it showed no signs of not weeping puss so on Friday evening I ventured into A&E in Wanganui. After they realised they could treat an Englishmen I was ushered into a treatment area. The nurse started cleaning up the wound and dressing is, she said I'd need to come back on Sunday. I tried to persuade her that I could keep moving, I wanted to get to Wellington the next day or Sunday. A staff nurse called Alison came into my treatment area and asked where I would be staying that night. I had no plans at this point, "a hostel" I said. Then the acts of kindness started. "Will you come back and have the dressing changed on Sunday if I look after you for the weekend ? Then my husband will drive you to Wellington on Monday". How could I refuse ? Alison tried in vane to phone her husband, this was 1990 in New Zealand, few mobile phones. She was unable to contact him so took me home during her break and was prepared to deposit, me, a stranger, in their home to wait for her husband to return from his road trip. I was uncomfortable with this arrangement but she insisted he'd be cool with it. As it turned out Sean, Alison's husband was home by the time we arrived so Alison introduced me then returned to finish her shift in A&E. Sean took me out to the supermarket and car wash with him and once Alison and their boys, aged 16  and 19 returned home we all ate dinner.

Next day the boys showed me off to their friends and gave me a tour of their town. Sunday, Alison took me to work and personally changed my dressings. On the afternoon I joined her sons and their mates at their rowing club for beer. As promised Sean drove me to Wellington on Monday. He was a furniture salesman and was going that way, making calls on the way. He bought me fish & chips and dropped me off at my hostel. Tuesday I went to A&E in Wellington and found that they were expecting me, Alison and her colleagues had rung ahead and told them about me. I received excellent treatment there and left with a bag of dressings, saline solution to clean my wound with and some ointment for the new dressing and instructions on how to do change it myself.

My travels have loads of such stories. People are really kind on on the whole. I have some great memories of my 13 months on the road in USA, NZ, Australia and France. Saw some fantastic places and had some great fun but best of all were the people I met, not  just the other travellers with whom I had a piss up with or spent some time traveling with but the locals too like the ones described here or all the others in the American camp sites who brought us beer or sodas as we erected our tent or invited us into their RV for breakfast as a means of 'applauding our endeavour' and in a small way helping us on our way.

eck

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Re: The kindness of strangers
« Reply #20 on: 07 October, 2009, 09:45:20 pm »
LEL in 2005. OtherDave and I got a bit lost coming out of Lincoln on the way back to Thorne. Pissing rain, rush hour. Eventually a young lady stopped. On looking at our soggy routsheet, she decided she couldn't really help.
"But" she said, "my dad's a cyclist. I'll phone him and see if he can help."
She rang him, explained our plight and handed me her phone. Dad soon got us pointing in the right direction.  :thumbsup:
It's a bit weird, but actually quite wonderful.