Persons, places and things: Bike-racking experience

By Barb Arland-Fye

Heading west on Interstate 80, I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw my bicycle bouncing up and down like a bucking bronco, ready to break loose from the bike rack. In a panic, I pulled off the interstate at the next exit and called my husband, Steve, who had secured the bicycle for me.

Arland-Fye

One of the rubber straps that held the bicycle in place had broken off. The bicycle hung at a weird angle, the front end still restrained, barely, by the remaining strap and bungee cord. I had less than 20 minutes to get to the park for a ride with the Quad Cities Bicycle Club the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend. It would take Steve about 15 minutes to come to my assistance.

Steve arrived quickly enough, strapped down the bicycle and said that should keep it secure and in place. He left, and I resumed my drive to the park. Not more than five minutes later, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the bike flapping wildly in the wind, threatening to become airborne. My usual morning prayer transformed into a single plea: Please, God, keep the bike in place!

I pulled over to the side of the road and tried to call Steve. In his hurry to reach me the first time (he told me later), he’d forgotten his iPhone. That explained why my calls went directly to his voice mail. I sat in the car, stewing. The other bicyclists would have taken off for the 28-mile loop through trail and city streets. Catching up did not seem possible.

A few yards ahead of me, an SUV pulled into the shoulder with its back lights flashing. What a coincidence, I thought to myself. Someone else needs assistance. A mistaken assumption, I learned quickly. The driver got out of his vehicle and approached me slowly. “Do you need help?” he asked. “Are you out of gas?”

I explained my predicament and thanked the man, who identified himself as “Dave,” for coming to my assistance. He knew a lot about securing bicycles to bike racks and in short time expertly anchored my bicycle. Then he said, “I want you to get in your car and pull out in front of me, driving about 40 mph. I’ll follow you to your destination (about five miles away) to make sure you get there safely.”

Why would he go out of his way to help me out? Other motorists had sailed by. Dave told me he’s always thought it was important to help other people out. He puts himself in their shoes, hoping that in a similar situation, someone would help him out. “You don’t have to follow me,” I told Dave. I’ll get there safely.”  But Dave insisted. He had to return home to take his wife to work, but he had already called her to let her know he was assisting someone.

When we arrived at the park, Dave instructed me to take a photo of the secured bike as a visual reminder of what to do. Then he took off and I got on my bicycle for what turned out to be a solo adventure. A conversation with my friend Karen came to mind. She said that a nun once told her: “Life is always a mixture — painful and joyful, great happiness and sorrows, difficulties along with amazing beauty. It’s important to see and feel it all. God is there with us in it all.”

I recognized God’s presence in the midst of a bike-racking experience.

(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at arland-fye@davenportdiocese.org.)

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