The expression kindness of strangers was something I knew from cheap comedians that didn’t ever want to pay gas money. When you finally gave up on them offering and asked, you’d get “I rely on the kindness of strangers” in the hopes you would let them off the hook for sharing the cost of getting to and from a gig….oftentimes five to nine hours in the car round trip. So from that passenger seat crap I grew to distrust the term. Coincidentally, have a mild suspicion of grown men without drivers licenses.
Over the Tour For Kids weekend I warmed up to the term again. Because here it was, pure and generous. It was kindness and it was from a stranger. And it was beer.
At the start of each days ride you group together with people you know and don’t know but who all want to travel at about the same pace. For the most part we ride side by side for safety but the bonus of this is making new friends as you make your way around the peloton. We all have name tags on our bikes like we’re at a convention so it’s easy to say “Hi Mel. I’m Anna” and take it from there.
This day flew by and the ride was fantastic but alas, because of our super human and mighty legs, we made it back before the beer tent was open. What beasts! Cold beer to a hot and sweaty cyclist is like an ice cube on a bee sting. It makes all the bad things go away. The aches, the stiffness, the inhibitions around meeting new people. Our new friend Mel shook us out of our stunned silence at the empty beer buckets and rode us over to her racquet club where she parked us on a patio and surrounded us with pitchers of cold beer and snacks. Her husband did the same for the group he was riding with. THIS is how you turn a stranger into a friend, my friends. Invite them into the , now christened, Very Icky People lounge.
Generosities are often witnessed at events like this. People will hang back so you don’t get dropped by the group. A hand will be laid on your back to help you up a hill. Crowds coming out to the road to cheer you on or clang cowbells as you go by. A donation from someone you’ve never met from a different country just because they read your blog, thanks Randy. I gave a burning redhead a sunscreen wipe at a water stop. Probably saved her life. Nurse in a car pulled up with a hand full of chamois cream that saved my friends life, or her love life at least.
So if you are thinking about doing a big ride like this know that you can, and will, rely on the kindness of strangers. It’s everywhere.