Those Giving Souls We So Often Meet Out On The Road
I have created a monster, a monster of negativity that was an unintended consequence of a letter I wrote to a stranger in the Yosemite Valley who critiqued my moto-lifestyle, then walked away.
After publishing the letter on Road Dirt, text messages from RD editor-in-chief Rob Brooks popped up in rapid succession on my phone.
“You touched a nerve, man,” he said. “So many on social media are saying, ‘This is everything I’ve ever wanted to say to those – – – holes, but didn’t.’ ”
Social media can be a fertile petri dish of negativity and I just added more agar, not my intention. I shy away from social media partly because the likes I care about come from my family and friends but also because of the negativity. I have added to the negativity and made things worse. My soul says ‘whoa’.
It’s time to do something.
Yosemite Valley stranger’s interaction stood out since it was rare, a blip on my travel radar because overwhelmingly I find the American spirit of kindness to strangers permeates every place I visit. I could write stories ad infinitum (kind of my job here at Road Dirt) about total strangers who have waved hello, offered a kind word, given me food, welcomed me into their homes, granted access to their garage to repair my bike, given me shelter in a storm, let me spend the night on their couch, became close friends or even adopted me into their family as their own son. This is the rule. Yosemite Valley man, you are the exception.
A few years back I ran into the Collier family, literally. I pitched a tent next to their trailer, then pissed off Matt. Now Hutch (far right), his wife Dawn and sons Currie (next to me, second from left) and Matt (not pictured) are close friends. Dawn is my track mom when I ride to Laguna Seca and they treat me like family. Currie was almost the death of me, but that is another story.
I need your help to turn this around. I want to hear your stories, your tales of kindness from the road. When did a stranger greet you with a smile, say a kind word, strike up a conversation or go out of their way to help you out? I know those stories are out there and this time, instead of reading mine, I want to read yours. We do our best to respond to every comment from our readers because at Road Dirt, as in our sport, everything is about relationships.
Our group ran into Rocky Shultz while we party crashed a quilt show. She snuck us beer and we have been good friends ever since. Her hospitality and the stellar roads means we are frequent visitors to her slice of heaven in southern Washington. She is the model of kindness to strangers. Here, she shows Rob the lay of the land while photographer Aaron Whiteman captures the moment.
I know those stories exist and we at Road Dirt want to read them. Share your stories below or yes, even on our social media pages. We can’t wait to hear from you.
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I was riding a Ducati ST4 from Colorado to Georgia. On a Sat afternoon, in N Alabama, my rear tire wore out. My fault – through the cords and all. I was in a small town with no motorcycle-related businesses within 50 miles. Got my bike towed back to last small town and got a motel room. My bike had a center stand, so actually got tire off the bike and off the rim. If you have ever changed a rear sportbike tire you understand that was a major accomplishment! Started calling around to see how fast I could get a tire delivered. It was going to be Tuesday minimum. Wandered over to a nearby autoparts store and was asking if maybe they knew anywhere I could find a motorcycle tire. A kid working there said, I know a guy with a shed-full of bikes – he might have something. He calls the guy, says come on over, the garage is open, see what you can find. The kid says – come back at 12, I have lunch, Ill take you over. I go back, he takes me over – the shed is full of awesome harley and britbike stuff, and literally has tires hanging from the ceiling, but they are all old and narrow. The owner says he knows a guy with a Honda sportbike, may have some tires. We call him – yea, I’ve got a new rear I bought, haven’t put on – you want it? Fuck yea, how much? $100 – Deal! He says it’s in the ceiling, over my garage, the kid knows where it is. The kid drives me to an ATM, I get some cash, go to the garage, get the tire – it’s not the exact profile, but close enough, and he drives me back to hotel. I muscle the tire on, roll it over to Walmart and pump it up, and on my way. People are awesome!
What a great tale of good will! Thanks for sharing, Ted.
This is really as much my husband’s story as mine: we were riding from our home in north central Washington to Wisconsin, by way of the heartlands. After a dream-like crossing of the prairies of Nebraska and a firefly-bedecked camp along the Niobrara River, we headed east through Iowa. It wasn’t a particularly hot day, but the humidity crept up and all of a sudden I pulled off the divided highway and draped myself across my tank and declared I couldn’t go on.
We pulled into a gas station of a small town and got sodas, then as we returned to our bikes somebody pointed out that the tire on Mark’s VFR was nearly flat. We stood there somewhat stupidly, then I reached for the tire kit we hoped we wouldn’t have to use.
Out of nowhere a fellow in a pick-up truck silently took it out of my hands and went to work on the tire. He patched it up and refused everything but our profound thanks. We went on from there and found a shop with a new tire in the next big town we came to, thanks to his kindness and expertise.
Moral of story: stop when you’re tired, and you may find other life-saving issues you might have been too weary to spot.
Fantastic story, Sara! Thanks for sharing this. And great “moral of the story”, worth taking to heart.