Monday, October 4, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers….

As I wrapped up the blog about our recent mountain bike adventure, I spent some time just thinking about what a cool trip it turned out to be. Even with the crash and having to cut it short, it was still the trip of a lifetime.

In addition to the amazing riding, the gorgeous views and the time spent with good friends, the thing that really stuck with me was how nice everyone we met turned out to be…

It started with my email conversations with Nikki at the San Juan Huts company. She was so helpful on the phone and over email as we put this trip together, answering question after question after question. Never once telling me to just read the dang handbook even though I’m pretty sure every question I asked was covered in there. Pretty sure I would have pointed that fact out had I been on her end of the phone.

Then, the day we arrived in Moab, we wandered into Chile Pepper bike shop looking for info on where to ride. The gal that worked there, even though she was in the middle of a conversation, stopped, came to the front of the store and asked if we needed help.

Now, if you’ve been in to some of the bike shops here in the bay area, you know that we were already in uncharted territory since many bike shops here are staffed with people either too “busy” or too impressed with their own abilities to bother helping someone that walks in off the street.
Not only did she stop what she was doing and come forward, she spent the next half hour going over maps talking about different rides, and generally being really nice about helping us find a place to ride.

It’s one thing to help people that you have to help. Both Nikki and the lady at the bike shop were in the service industry. Technically we were their customers so the expectation is that they would be helpful.

It’s different though for total strangers that you meet on the trail. When Chris crashed and we ran into Dan and his wife on motorcycles, they went out of their way to help us. Not only did they give Chris a ride up to the road where he was able to get cell service, but Dan came back after dropping Chris off and picked up his bike to take it up to the road.

They also waited with Chris until Jerry and I got up there and while they were waiting with him, they shared their flask of rum. It should be noted that they were there celebrating her birthday with a motorcycle ride and never once complained about helping and never once thought about leaving us until they were sure we were taken care of and had everything under control. They essentially gave up more than a couple hours of their vacation day to help total strangers.

From there, we were in the hands of Tim from San Juan Huts. He showed up, loaded us into his truck, handed Chris yet another flask – this one with Tequila – and proceeded to drive us back to town. Not only was he willing to take us wherever we wanted to go, Telluride where we started, Montrose where they have an airport or Ridgway where their shop is located, but he did so pleasantly and cheerfully. Never once making us feel like we ruined his day or inconvenienced him in any way.

After deciding on going to Ridgway and planning on having Jim from the shuttle company come and get us, Tim took us to his shop so we could drop off the bikes and gear and not have to deal with them for the rest of the day. After giving us a complete tour of his shop and an update on everything they had going on (and introducing us to his 6 dogs) he took us to a hotel and made sure we were situated before bidding us good bye. Turns out he was heading out to find some hikers who hadn’t checked in yet on another of the hut routes.

I’m not sure if it was the fact that Chris was on crutches or that we looked so desperate, but the kindness continued as we checked in to the hotel. The young lady at the desk felt really bad that she couldn’t offer us any first floor rooms, but made up for it by giving us a really good deal on two upstairs double rooms. Then she actually got mad at me for teasing Chris about not carrying his own bag. She even went so far as to offer to carry his bags upstairs to the room….who does that?

So, the question becomes, is everyone that lives in CO and UT really nice or are they normal and I, having been born and raised in the bay area, just surprised when people offer common courtesies?

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