Loooong ago I needed a job for the summer, so I went to work at WordPerfect (a few of you will fondly remember WordPerfect) as a customer support operator.
There, one person at a time, I learned to dislike the human race. It was inevitable, really. When all you do all day is talk to people who are in crisis and need someone as a target for their frustration and anger (and, frequently, as a mask for their embarrassment at their ineptitude), your view of humanity starts to get a little skewed.
Well, it’s taken a long time, but I’m starting to revise that worldview. I’ve got three reasons why from just this week.
Reason 1. I Recognize that Jersey
Earlier this week, when I described my first ride on my new Fillmore, I left out a few parts.
First of all, I left out that I was wearing shorts and a short-sleeved jersey (the original — and highly collectible — black and orange Fat Cyclist Jersey).
Second, I left out that any time I was not in direct sunlight, it was pretty darned cold. Cold enough, in fact, that there was snow still on the ground left over from Saturday’s snow.
And not just in one or two little isolated patches, either:
My question is, how did this happen? I swear, it was too hot to ride outside just a couple of days ago. And now there’s snow?
I’d like to file a complaint. I need a much, much longer period in between the too-hot-to-ride season and the snowshoeing season, please.
Let’s start a petition. Those are usually effective.
OK, back to the story.
Anyway, as I got to the summit — totally winded from the climb — I saw someone wearing a Pink Fat Cyclist jersey.
“Hey!” I yelled out.
He looked up, recognizing my jersey.
Everyone, meet Justin, a guy I have never met before, but who was wearing the Pink Lemonade Fat Cyclist jersey. He was out there in patchy snow, getting in a MTB ride before winter takes over completely.
I know there are more than 500 people like Justin out there, wearing the Pink Lemonade jersey to support Susan and fight cancer. People I’ve never met, but are doing something nice for Susan and me just because that’s the kind of people they are.
Reason 2. I Need a Lift
After I talked with Justin for a few minutes, I turned around and headed downhill toward home.
And that’s when I started getting cold. Really, really cold. The long shadows cast by the mountain in the afternoon, compounded with wind, compounded with a sweaty jersey, compounded with a nice little breeze, had me shaking with cold.
And then I got a flat.
I should now back up for a moment and reveal that before the beginning of this ride, I put together a new seat pack for my new bike, so I’d always have everything I need to change a tire, should I get a flat. However, as I did this, I realized I didn’t have a spare tube or a spare CO2 cartridge in my garage to put in this new pack.
I could have easily just moved the seat pack I keep on my other road bike over to the bike I was riding, but I made a decision: “Nah. It’s a brand new tire. It won’t get a flat.” And I also decided to not bother bringing my phone, since I don’t get a signal when I’m in American Fork Canyon.
It’s like I’m jinxing myself on purpose.
So there I was: halfway down the narrow mountain road, with a flat. No way to fix it.
Six miles to home. Time to start walking.
A truck with a trailer zoomed by, honking at me. I assume they were angry at me for choosing to take my bike on a walk on this narrow road, and miffed that they would now have to move their hand two inches and tap their brake slightly in order to avoid me.
This did not improve my mood.
Ten seconds later, though, a car slowed as it went by me. The guy in the passenger seat shouted out, “You OK?”
I shook my head, no. And in fact, I wasn’t OK. I was shivering cold.
They pulled over, popped the trunk, and directed traffic around them while I took the wheels off my bike (luckily, I did have my Jethro Tool with me). They were both coming back from doing some rock climbing, and said they’d be happy to give me a ride home.
To be clear, they made that offer before they knew that I lived relatively close and was pretty much on their way.
All the way home, we talked about how incredible Utah in general — and American Fork Canyon in particular — is if you love the outdoors, whether you’re a rock climber, a cyclist, a kayaker, or whatever.
In short: I waited for less than two minutes after getting a flat before getting a friendly, genuine offer of assistance. I know that kind of help wouldn’t always come that fast, but I say that it’s pretty darned cool that it comes at all.
Reason 3. Family, Friends, and Fat Cyclist Readers
Wednesday night, after a particularly bad day for Susan and me, I posted a scared, stressed-out message on my blog.
Yesterday, I heard from everyone in my family — my Mom dropped everything and came over, Kellene’s coming over to help for the weekend, Lori texted me from wherever she’s camping, Christy called, and Jodi commented on the blog and wore her Fat Cyclist jersey when she went running (where she was evidently seen by Bike Snob NYC on his way to work — small world).
Friends have called, emailed, and instant messaged me.
And more than 110 of you have left incredibly thoughtful messages of support. I have read every one of them, and Susan has, too.
Of course, this blog has always been — and will always be — primarily a goofy place for me to say whatever wrongheaded cycling-tangented idea that’s popped into my skull. But it’s incredibly reassuring to know that when I need to be serious, Fat Cyclist readers are more than happy to help me out.