Updated: Jul 31, 2021
by Tej Mehta
On last weekend’s biking trip, our group was out on the Mt. Vernon Trail in Virginia when a member suddenly got a flat. We were faced with a dilemma, as the only tubes we had on hand were for the wrong size tire.
We moved to a bench and began to consider our options. Calling for a ride was always present, but we were an hour and a half roundtrip drive from home. This wasn’t the most appealing choice as it was already getting late, so we began to think of other plans. Ultimately we decided to put the smaller tube on and see how far it got us, hopefully enough to be a bit closer and make calling for a ride feasible.
While we were taking the tire off and preparing to install the smaller tube, a group of riders was passing by and they stopped to ask us if we needed anything. We explained to them that one of our riders got a flat and that we needed a 28 inch tube. By a stroke of luck, one of them happened to be riding a bike that also had 28 inch tires and gave us a tube they had been carrying. We thanked them and offered compensation, which they graciously declined.
However, the help didn’t stop there. The group stayed and helped us put the tube onto the tire, and even offered one of their CO2 cartridges to allow us to forgo manually pumping up the tire.
During this exchange we found out that these riders had just completed the entire C&O Canal Towpath, about 180 miles. Even though they were at the end of a huge journey, they still stopped and gave their time to help us that Sunday evening.
We are so grateful and feel indebted to this kind group of cyclists, who were willing to selflessly give away materials and time to help our stranded selves.
From this experience there are many lessons to be gained, for example the essence of good preparation and readiness. However, the most important lesson to take away is that of kindness. The actions of these bikers reveal the extreme positive impact that a caring act can have on others. So, next time you see someone stranded on the side of a trail, stop to ask them if they need help. Just the gesture of checking in on them will reassure them and improve their day. I know I’ll definitely be more than ready to stop and offer assistance, as although I can’t pay back those riders I met I can definitely pay it forward.