October 17, 2018
Spokes Broken, but Spirit Not

I’ve been having quite the ups and downs this week and I’m not just talking about all the hills (though those have been insane). On Sunday, after one of the longest days I’ve had on this trip, I got to camp about an hour before sunset. A biker behind me mentioned that my back wheel looked a bit wobbly.

I knew this meant I might have a broken spoke. When I examined it I found that two were broken and it was wobbling quite a bit. At this point it’s about half an hour until sunset and there is no service at the campground. An old book we had suggested a bike shop, but it was about 15 miles back towards where I had biked from and I didn’t feel like adding an extra 30 miles of biking.

Instead, I asked a couple in the campground with a truck if they could take me into town the next morning. Not only did they say yes, but they gave me coffee and great conversation to boot. The woman taught Special Education in elementary schools (like my mom) and was very pleasant to chat with. Unfortunately, when I got to town, the bike shop said it’s closed this year.

Again, I asked for the help of a stranger. A friendly guy quickly agreed to give me a ride to the next town where there was a sporting goods store that sells bikes. I was hoping to get my bike fixed, but they very apologetically told me they don’t work on bikes anymore. They only sell them. I looked around to see if I could somehow buy something to salvage, but it was clear that wouldn’t work.

Over breakfast, I decided to call a bike shop from my hometown. They’ve always been helpful and they proved to be once again. They walked me through a solid solution of how to fix the bike myself. I walked to the highway. With a bike wheel in one hand and the thumb up on my other hand, I tried to hitchhike. It didn’t work for about 45 minutes, but finally a locksmith picked me up in his work truck.

He was nice enough to go out of his way and drop me off right at my campsite. At this point it’s about 11:40 in the morning and I see the biker from the night before was still there. The guy had one of the tools I needed and we asked various people around camp for wrenches, spare chains, and bunch of weird MacGyver type of solutions.While we weren’t able to stop the wobbling entirely, we got the spokes fixed.

We biked to this campground where everybody stays before tackling the biggest climbs of the ride. Several bikers I had met at different points in my journey all showed up there. It felt like this weird coming together. There were girls from Switzerland, an Irish man, Sean from Britain -what tied everybody together was biking. We spent hours drinking, laughing, and sharing stories at a little convenience store / grill across from the campground.

Time and time again, whenever I’ve been close to getting upset or losing spirit, people have picked me back up. Yes, there’s a lot to say about the nature I’ve been biking through and camping in. I’m also seeing a lot of personal growth. But the most amazing part of this trip are all the people I’ve been meeting along the way. When I was ready to become totally frazzled at my bike woes, genuine folk from all over came through and kept my spirits high.