In this relentless information age of who can beat whom to get information out that's critical at that moment, and who can influence more people with something they broadcast, post, or tweet, the pace can be unrelenting. Information seems to be colliding and broiling in a contentious sea, battling for supremacy. Instead of talking over each other, what would happen if a simple greeting and introduction was followed by ... silence?
Near the beginning of this trip a very good friend of mine quoted Sean Stephenson, "Communication is merely an exchange of information. Connection is the exchange of our humanity." What if I squelched my desire to do the two-minute drill to get the ride's purpose across? What if I just greeted someone and then listened?
A bicycle can be such an inviting instrument. Put on a couple of large travel bags, add a sleeping bag and a small flag and you now have an attraction, really an oddity. This has helped some interactions develop into good exchanges and eventually into awesome connections and friendships.
Before even getting on the train in Royal Oak, Mi this past November I was approached by a person from Free Bike 4 Kids Detroit who was asking questions about the upcoming ride. He uses bicycles to reach out to underserved kids in Detroit. With similar interests, I'm looking forward to developing that relationship.
The very first ride day, John, a retired cyclist from Santa Monica, was looking to reminisce about his long rides along trails on the Continental Divide. He prefers the roads now and suggested taking a shortcut through a particular canyon. Two days later my reticence was confirmed when he texted, saying that particular road "wasn't very bike friendly now."
Then there was Nacho, the subject in a separate blog in this column.
Nick the cancer patient from Las Vegas stopped me at a gas station on that I15 mountain pass. He was returning home after his Hodkins treatment at UCLA. "You need to get to Vegas to get the casinos to help. They got a lot of money." I passed on that one. What could possibly have gone wrong with a detour to Vegas?
There was Sam from Vermont who was camping in Joshua National Park after his IT training workshop. He strongly suggested supplemental water supply in New Mexico. I should have paid more attention to that issue in the mountains of eastern. That could have been a disaster.
Gabby who moved from Ohio and has worked for the last 8 years at the RZ Mini Mart in Salome AZ, agreed with an Arizona state trooper that it was not a good idea to ride down Salome Rd at dusk. It's windy and hilly. "Drivers like to go kind of fast.
These messages avalanched daily, reminding me constantly that even complete strangers were protecting me, guiding me, and genuinely looking out for my best interests. All I needed to do was quiet myself, turn off the phone, and listen.
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It's rarely the miles ridden or the mountains scaled that are memorable. Rather it's the people you meet along the journey that highlight meaning.