Random Acts of Kindness


I’ve already thanked Chris, who took me through Pittsburgh to my motel, but I forgot to mention probably his greatest help to me. Before we parted, Chris gave me meticulous directions about how to get from the end of the river trail to the beginning of the Great Allegheny Passage Trail, which runs from just outside the city to Cumberland, Md. The connection from one to another is not obvious as it requires walking alongside the railroad tracks for a few hundred yards and passing through a gate that appears locked and which has a sign about trespassers being prosecuted. Our journey was greatly assisted by Chris’ thorough guidance and advice.

Do unto bikers as you would have them do unto you…


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More accurately, this post is in tribute to a “not-so-random” act of kindness for which I am indebted to Brian at HubBub Custom Bicycles, which is where Thomas got his Salsa Casseroll a couple years back. Anyway, Thomas took me and my bike over to the shop so Brian could give it a look before I got back out on the road. Brian adjusted the brakes and tweaked the front rotor and made sure everything was working properly all while declining to accept any payment from me. When (if?) the time comes for me to get a custom-built bike, I know where I want to go; thanks Brian!


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Here’s to the SD DOT

My cycling glasses unexpectedly broke this morning so when I got into Pierre (pronounced “Pier”), I went into the LBS to look for a new pair. They didn’t have any, but I got to talking with a customer named Andy Jackson, who works for the state DOT.

I was asking about where I could get road maps of MN and WI, and Andy gave me the name of the woman at the DOT that has most of the state maps filed away and told me I could pick up a couple for free.

Which all turned out to be true as states have an interest in making their maps available for free – another public good!

Thanks Andy!

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Saved by Ryan

Man of the hour:


Today we were going to take the shorter and more direct route from Rapid City to Wall even though we would miss out on some scenery.

But we discovered that old Hwy 14 had traffic but no shoulder so we bailed and struck out south to pick up a road that would allow us to get to Wall by going through a western section of the Badlands, albeit with some 20-odd miles of gravel road and a couple of decent climbs.

Water was a bit scarce along the way, and because of a later start (since we were originally going to go the direct route) and the extra miles caused by the detour, we found ourselves riding in the hotter and hotter part of the day.

We got down to Scenic, a little town so misnamed that it sold itself to a church in the Philippines leaving the post office and a knick-knack store as the only going concerns. Thank goodness for the tiny rural post office as there was water outside and A/C inside, both of which we could avail ourselves of for free.

The locals we talked with were pretty dubious about our plan to ride through the Badlands on the gravel road to Wall. We were hot and a bit tired after some 50 miles on the road, and the prospect of slogging through gravel and up and down hills for the next couple of hours in the 100 degree heat was unpleasant to say the least.

So we started up the old cadge a ride routine to see if we could get a lift into Wall. While we were waiting to see if the knick-knack lady’s brother-in-law might be able to help us out, a guy from the state DOT came in out of the heat.

He was part of a road crew that had been in the area for awhile and had some unsettling tales from the week before about bikers and heat stroke. And Kim, the knick-knack lady, also had stories about people seeking refuge in her store for hours.

So, while we were waiting on Tom, Kim’s brother-in-law, Ryan, the DOT guy, offered to take us past the gravel and most of the way to Wall. He couldn’t take us all the way because he’d have to pass some of the road crew and he wasn’t supposed to use the state truck to give even a couple of hapless bikers a lift in the extreme heat.

Once we learned Tom couldn’t take us, we happily accepted Ryan’s offer and piled into the truck with him for a very enjoyable ride. He lives in Rapid City (which evidently the locals all call “Rapid”) and hates his job though he loves the area and goes to the Badlands every year on his birthday. He’s an avid mountain biker and was happy to help a couple of fellow bikers out. And he’s the reason I’m posting this in air-conditioned comfort instead of grinding along a gravel road – thanks Ryan!

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Late recognition

I’ve been remiss in acknowledging the people who have helped us out in the days before I created the RAK category, and since I just got a nice comment from Carla at the Idle Spur in Dayton, MT, here goes.

Thanks to Carla for giving us a pitcher of Arnold Palmer – mix of iced tea and lemonade – on the hot afternoon we sought shelter there back at the end of June.

And thanks also to some public sector folks – two park rangers at Glacier let me back into the park after hearing my story about losing my one-week entry pass (true story!); park rangers are great.

And thanks to Border Patrol Officer Becky who volunteered to refill our water bottles, despite regulations and her male colleague’s complete indifference.

And then there was this kind lady, whose name I’m afraid I’ve forgotten. We were looking for some shade in which to sit and have our lunch when we were in our way to Walla Walla, and I knocked on the door of this delightful farm wife’s house to get her permission to sit under her tree.


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Today’s Random Act of Kindness

So it seems that the modal post in this category is going to be people whom we descend upon whilst covered with the dust of the road and seeking water. If it wasn’t so ordinary, it would be like two trackers on horses crossing the west and looking for a cool drink of water from some settler family who has run afoul of the villains doing the dirty work of the big ranching interests and we have to …

Sooo, a bit of a cinematic interlude there.

Anyway, here is a picture of Mark (Jessie, his wife was camera shy but she’s actually the one who filled our water bottles) who lives outside of Dunkirk, MT, on the Hi-Line and from whom we secured some much-needed water for our long ride into Chester.

They also had some delightfully playful dogs that I gave a bit of rousting to.

Thanks Mark and Jessie!


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About Me

Born in Baltimore and raised in Cincinnati, I have lived on both coasts and driven back and forth across the country a number of times. I now have the "midlife opportunity" to do so on two wheels.