by Tim Watkins
It had been a ridiculously hard week. I was way past the state of being tired. The seemingly endless pieces of my spectacularly dysfunctional existence were falling onto my feet in all sorts of disarray, and successfully squishing my toes. I’ve dealt with most of my problems throughout life in a narrow fashion, with only three options explored so far. The Number one method is to exercise so long, and or, hard that I no longer care, or until effort finally rewards my exhaustion with some clarity, with some, good thoughts to drive out the bad, or I collapse in a heap. Door number two method consists of retreating sullenly to some corner of solitude and stewing on my problems until I melt it all down and sift through what is left in an effort to make sense of it all. Door number three is Prayer, but sometimes the answers aren’t all that quick or obvious. Being somewhat polyphasic, sometimes I use all three methods at the same time.
Recently I have had to try on a new suit of emperors new clothes. It is currently the height of fashion to talk about everything and I do mean everything! Sometimes it has been a great tool, but still an exhaustive process for someone like me, and of course, being part Scot, I am inherently resistant to change. There are also the times when it just plain doesn’t work.
It was a chilly, but not unreasonably freezing cold Sunday. The sky was thickening up with some fast moving, but wimpy looking clouds, just barely filtering out the usually bright Colorado Front Range sunshine. It was not our typical, as if there really were such a thing, Colorado weather. In further development of unusuality, there was very little wind: just a light breeze out of the north. I was not in my best frame of mind, but I had done all of the talking and stewing I could stand. It was time to ride my demons into some form of submission. I pulled on some cold weather riding clothes and filled up a couple of water bottles, got out the emergency, under the seat bag, with spare tube, tools and such necessities. I aired up the tires of my “war pony” road bike (purchased used from Dede Demet Barry) and rode off heading south out of Palmer lake, my home town, at a blistering pace going down hill with a slight tail wind. I blasted through Monuments main drag and across the bridge, onto the frontage road and through the Glen Eagle development still going much faster than usual. After Glen Eagle I turned East on the North Gate road and headed towards highway #83. This was before all the newer houses and developments had arrived,
“Oh my!”, the wind is picking up across the prairie and even the antelope have sorta sought out the leeward side of hillsides” . Realization hit my stewing brain slowly. Just before Roller coaster road my rear tire went flat. Just try to guess what I had forgotten in my rush to get out and ride. Yep! The “team short bus boy” fergot the spare
tube, pump, and emergency repair bag!! OOOpsie!!
It was not awful to be riding along on a flat tire. I had done it before. The tricky part of it was that the weather, being truly Colorado, had changed in a matter of very few minutes. I was now riding out of the saddle on my little flat tire into the increasing strong wind on Highway #83, within a few more minutes the wind began carrying huge wet snowflakes, rapidly accumulating on the trees, fence posts and the road in an artful and lovely fashion. Of course the heavy wet snowflakes were gently wrapping their little tender arms quickly, alarmingly quickly, around me! Visibility was rapidly diminishing. I was mostly concerned and bit paranoid that some motorist, not seeing me at all, or venting their general dislike of cyclists, would in the cover of a now raging snowstorm, manage to steer my way.
Riding along in this tunnel of wind and thick heavy snow was rather peaceful compared to the weeks”, raging difficulties and festivities of pain. I thought it best to just keep moving along. (Obviously, this was pre-carrying of cell phones everywhere). It seemed movement to create warmth was the smarter recourse, rather than standing still on the side of the road in the relentless wind driven snow. Several cars had passed me, focused entirely on the task of driving in the snow. Some of them slowed in a gesture of mild alarm, perhaps a bit of concern, for L’diot out there struggling to stay upright on skinny tire with snow and wind of the sudden springtime blizzard conspiring to flatten him.
A blue and white Jeep passed me by. Continuing on up the road, sliding on the slippery shoulder on a flat and skinny tire was taking almost all my concentration. The blue and white jeep, with a soft top, passed me again going in the other direction. A few minutes blew by and then that very same Jeep came by me again, going my way again. I thought it suddenly looked suspiciously like a large metal version of a vulture circling around my head. The Jeep stopped in a wide spot a few yards up the road from me. The driver got out and stood behind his vehicle (out of the driving snow and wind) and calmly watched me slithering up to his Jeep. He spoke, his voice was calm, and “I don’t suppose you would be willing to accept a ride somewhere?” I almost fell over, but instead, in frozen stutter responded with my utmost intelligence “Fuh… Fuh… Flat tire, buh… buh… buh… buh… blizzard, cah cah cold and wuh wuh wuh wet …, aaahhhmmm okay!!” Quickly we took the wheels off of my, my ice encrusted high end bicycle, and jammed the wheels and frame into the back with all his recently purchased groceries AND his teenage daughter, who had generously found some cranny to place herself amidst parts of my disassembled bike and the bags of groceries! She gestured me into the wide open, spacious by comparison, front passenger seat .
She went on playing teenage human pretzel in the back. Bill, his name is Bill, from Dallas, a year ago, and Jenn (the human teenage pretzel in back) asked me where I was going and I told them Palmer Lake, but they could drop me anywhere convenient ( my spu spu spu spu frostbitten stutter had returned to normal speaking. They lived only a couple of miles from where we were, on Hodgen Road. Bill was not willing to leave me off. He drove me all the way to my front step! He drove in a wild, windy blizzard with cars scattered about like jackstraws on shoulders. The windshield was ice encrusted in spite of the heater blasting away. Bill drove at least 15 miles out of his way! He furiously refused my lousy ten bucks I was carting In my soaked jersey, and then helped me unload my bike , un-pretzel his wonderfully kind daughter, and waved out the window as he drove away.
It is so nice to know that there are still some angels of mercy floating by on the breezes of rapid change. Violence, indifference and cynicism seem to be so prevalent or, at least, most reported by the mass media circus. It’s good to know there are still angels floating ‘round in those same breezes. A few years after this event, I am still impacted by it. Every time I hear “Train” sing “Calling All Angels”, it is one of the quickly passing memories that makes me smile at the lyrics and the warm memory of a strangers’ kindness in odd circumstances. I hope that there are more of those kinds of things happening than we know. I pray that those who do such acts of random beauty and kindness have their reward here on earth. I also hope that riders everywhere realize that they share the road with motorists who are frequently kind and generous to those of us who choose two wheels.