Sitting on the sidewalk was a man somewhere in his 40's. Next to him was a mountain bike, fully loaded, hauling a trailer that was loaded also. On the back of the trailer was a cardboard sign that said: Going to Albuquerque with my dog, anything will help. Sure enough, there was a dog tucked between him and the bike.
I tend to be somewhat wary of the increasing number of people that stand on the street corners with similar signs. But, I asked Jack to go and talk with him: if he needed food we have a truck full, but I wouldn't just hand him money.
Jack went over and spoke with him and I joined in. His story is: he lost his job last November; everything he owned was on the bike, he was heading to Albuquerque to try and find work; every day things seemed to go worse. He was at the rest stop sitting out a rainstorm. His chain kept breaking and if it broke again he was in trouble: his chain tool broke. Any food or help that we could give would be appreciated.
As he and Jack talked, I looked shared a moment with his dog. A well fed mix breed, about 50-60 pounds, with the happiest bright brown eyes you can imagine. I felt that her eyes were saying, "isn't this great? I am on a road trip with my best friend! I get to ride in this trailer! I get to meet all kinds of people and see all kinds of new things!" I could see that she was not fazed by the rain, the broken chain, the loss of a job, the long miles ahead. I could see how happy she was as I stroked her head.
We gave the man food for a few days, a few dollars, and a chain tool. He waved us goodbye and wished us safe travels.
It gave me something to think about for the next 200 miles. For many of us that cycle it is mainly a hobby; a sport; a way to stay in shape; a vacation. We have our credit cards to fall back on when the cash runs out or it rains so hard we want to stay in a hotel. We have all the best gear. We sometimes have a caterer that keeps us well fed and watered. We sometimes have someone to haul our luggage. We sometimes have a mechanic that fixes our bike when it breaks. We don't ride if we don't have too or we don't feel like it. We complain when it is too wet, too cold, too hot, the hills are too big, the miles too long. We go home to families, our cars, our jobs.
I thought hard about this man and his dog, cycling because he has to. Trying to find a way to support himself and his happy dog. Relying on the help of a few people that will care until he can. Really gave me something to think about.