Gillett, WY – I don’t think anyone ever plans on crashing. I didn’t. On my way out of Gillett, WY on Sunday morning I had a slow roll going down the sidewalk on 12th Avenue. I just picked up some fuel at the grocery store after foregoing supper the night before. My 70-mile day just wore me out.
There was a low-hanging branch that I thought I could duck under … and I did, but it was followed by another branch that caught me in the face, and since I was still clipped into my pedals my world ended up sideways and shortly thereafter on the pavement.
A scraped knee, a little blood, and since I didn’t hear any bones break I thought I was no worse for wear. Plus, there was only one witness, and he stopped his car to see if I was okay… so my pride wasn’t really hurt either.
I gathered my thoughts, took a couple of deep breaths, and pushed along for 30 miles with some soreness in my left arm.
I had trouble shifting and there was some swelling. At the Sinclair gas station in Moorcroft, WY I stopped to reassess the situation and asked for help.
One of the things I’ve learned on the road is 99% of the time if you reach out and ask for help people are genuinely responsive.
There was a big mobile home trailering a yellow Jeep and a guy at the pump filling up. I told the man I had fallen and asked if he could give me a lift to Sundance, WY. He eyed me with a little speculation and said I’d have to ask his wife.
Normally, this leads to a much better scenario.
Noreen was in the passenger seat. She and her husband Jeff were in their 80s and from California. They had been to KOA campsites all over the US, including Alaska.
Noreen came down and listened to my story. “I don’t want any money. I just hurt my arm in a fall and need to get further down the road. I don’t want anything…. Just a little help,” I said. “And it’s good that I picked you because there’s a female in the mix.”
Noreen was sharp and she got it right away. Plus, I think judging by my age and the gear on my bike … who else was going to help this crazy woman riding across the country.
“We can get you to Sundance, WY but we’re going to Rapid City, SD,” she said.
Even better. Rapid City was on my route and I was done with Wyoming anyway.
Using my good arm I unloaded my gear and tossed it in their Jeep. Then I tucked my bike in the alley of their motor home and joined them on a much faster adventure to Rapid City, SD.
It’s a compromise I’ll gladly make and adds to the adventure. The kindness of strangers is always a good story to tell.
Noreen and Jeff had three kids, and five grandkids and they ran their own business. They loved to travel and go to concerts. Amy Grant was the CD they were playing on the ride to Rapid City.
“If it’s Sunday and we don’t have a chance to go to church we listen to Gospel songs,” she said over the music.
Within a few miles, conversation came easy. Noreen and Jeff were both adventurers; she still reveled in a hot air balloon ride she had taken in New Mexico and Jeff talked about white water rafting.
We made one stop at a wayside and Noreen went in to use the facilities and came out about 15 minutes later having run into another friend with a mobile home. She was also armed with promotional pamphlets of things to see in South Dakota.
Noreen was loaded with touring information. “Our younger friends have stopped traveling,” she said. “But since we’re still able to do it we’ve got a lot to see yet.”
Asked if they had ever been to Wisconsin, Noreen recalled a Bluegrass festival in the Kickapoo Valley. They really did get around.
We pulled into the KOA campground and went our separate ways. I secured a little log cabin to spoil myself and avoid sleeping on the ground with my injured wing.
I would review the situation in the morning but according to the camp nurse, it just looked like a bad sprain. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.
On a side note:
-I did call my mom to let her know the latest. Funny, she seemed unfazed. “You sound fine,” she said.
-Do you know the little KOA cabins come with air conditioning?
– I gave Jeff and Noreen a thank you note with money for helping me and I chipped in for gas. They tracked me down at the campsite and gave me the money back, asking that I donate it to music and exercise programs for people suffering from Alzheimer’s.
-Received a touching note from a friend. “You old bag… you’re still tougher than the youngsters today.”
“Have I not commanded you? … Be strong and courageous. … Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
The 2023 Amazing Ride for Alzheimer’s is raises money every year for music programming for seniors at Cedar Community, a 501c3, so all donations are tax-deductible.
Donate via the secure website through Cedar Community. Donations should be marked “Amazing Ride 2023.” Click HERE to make a secure online donation.
Checks may be made payable to “Cedar Community Foundation” with “Judy Bike Ride” in the memo line and mailed to 113 Cedar Ridge Dr., West Bend, WI 53095
Be sure to include the Federal Tax ID Number for the Foundation: 39-1249432
You may also find a downloadable donation form HERE.