Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to Get Great Service on Your Next Bike Ride

It seems to me that road cyclists understand the importance of serving others. We do it all the time in our pacelines: pointing out road hazards to the rider behind us, offering hand signals for our next turn, offering spare tubes to a rider with a flat. It's part of our culture. At our core, we're "cycling servants."

This past Saturday's ride showcased our cycling servant culture. And it was a joy to watch it all unfold.

Our ride began under baby blue skies. Finally. For our coldest April on record, we were rejoicing that today's ride would be in temps broke the 65 degree barrier. After I shared a brief devotional message for this Easter weekend and then prayed, we hopped on our bikes and headed west along the Burke-Gilman trail into Kenmore. We were headed to Mukilteo for our favorite coffee and lunch stop on this circuit—Red Cup Café—overlooking the Mukilteo ferry terminal and Possession Sound.

The route weaved through Kenmore and Briar and then we jumped on the Interurban Trail. I've mentioned before that the Interurban Trail generally follows the route once used by the Interurban Trolley that ran from downtown Seattle to Everett from 1910 through 1939. I like this paved trail for two reasons. It's not well known so there are few other cyclists, walkers, joggers, dog owners crowding it. And it's not well known so often I'll have cyclists with me experiencing it for the first time. For Bob D., who usually rides in the south end, that was the case. New territory for him.

We were pedaling toward Martha Lake behind a Walmart when I heard the call from behind me, "Flat!" Kimberly had flatted—or as the British like to say, "punctured." We pulled to the side of the road and I casually mentioned to Kimberly to give her tire to Mike as he was the champion tube changer on our team. Five flats on one ride earned him that title. Mike didn't miss a beat and gladly donned his rubber gloves and pulled out his tools. Kimberly's tire was repaired in record time. Unknowingly, Mike had just set the theme for today's ride. Serving.

Before we left our impromptu stop, a middle-aged man in a blue cargo van called over to us. "Are you a cycling club?" I walked over to him and told him yes, we're from Eastside Foursquare Church. He was looking for a cycling club to ride with. I gave him my card with a map on the back and invited him to join us some Saturday. Serving. This is feeling good.

We pressed on to the north, back on the Interurban Trail as it parallels Interstate 5. We passed Everett Mall, Casino Road, and were descending a small hill and about to turn left onto Beverly Blvd. when I heard what sounded like a gunshot. I looked behind and saw Jim pulling off the road. No blood. But instead he leaned over his bike and inspected his rear tire. Not only did he have a flat—our second for the day's ride—he had a rear rim that had splintered.

The rim was original and hadn't been replaced since Jim bought the bike several years ago. The brake wear had worn through the rim and caused it to break much like when a sidewall on a semi-truck rips away from the rest of the tire. He held the splintered and frayed rim in his hands and we all gathered around brainstorming a solution. There was a Bicycle Centre bike shop 2.2 miles north of us. Too far to walk. Should we call his wife? (We all have at some point in our riding career). A taxi? Maybe a guy in a pickup truck would come by and give Jim a lift, I thought out loud.

Not a moment later, a minivan with a 4-position bike rack on the back carrying a single road bike and the passenger window down rolled to a stop at the traffic light next to us. Mike ran over to the van and explained our situation. The driver quickly nodded yes and pulled into the parking lot next to us.

We introduced ourselves to Zack and thanked him for stopping. We couldn't have planned a better solution. Zack was more than willing to give Jim and his bike a ride to the Bicycle Centres shop. The rest of us would pedal on and meet him there. Talk about service. This guy was an answer to prayer. One cyclist gladly serving his fellow cyclists. This was real serving.

By the time we reached the shop, Zack was just about to drive away. We shouted our thanks and then went inside to find Jim and his bike eyeing a new pair of rims. Since the repair and installation was probably going to take an hour, the five of us with bikes intact decided to ride on to Mukilteo. We would either meet Jim back here or give him directions to catch up with us.

I found a quick route to get us back on course and soon we were flying along Mukilteo Boulevard under warm sun and bright blue sky. At Red Cup Café, we placed our orders, sat back in the sun, shared good conversation, and enjoyed our coffee and sandwiches. As we were finishing, Jim phoned. His bike was done. I gave him directions for the 5.5 miles between him and us. Within 20 minutes he made his appearance at the Red Cup complete with brand spanking new rims. The best part, now Jim could finish the ride with us... all the way back to Bothell.

So our thanks goes out to Zack. The guy driving the white minivan, carrying a bike rack, and arriving at just the right time.

Thanks for serving your fellow cyclist.

Riders: Jim, Bob D., Mike, Kimberly, Randy, Bob H.
Distance: 50.8 miles
Time: 3:31
Flats: 2
Servant-hearted Cyclists: 2 (at least)

No comments: