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In record heat, a trail angel saves the day

The hot, eerily empty
Springwater Trail yesterday.
(Photos by Erin Greeson)

Today, while commuting home midday to finish my work from an air-conditioned office, a great thing happened. Just when I thought I’d prepared smartly for the 100-degree ride — dousing my head in cold water beforehand and chugging water all morning long — my lack of preparedness on another front led to an unexpected situation.

As I rode down SE Lincoln, I noted an atypically low number of fellow cyclists on this usually busy route. The heat has kept people indoors or in their cars, I thought to myself. I made my way through Ladd’s Addition, under the Hawthorne Bridge and onto the Springwater Corridor Trail (popular bike routes, which were all sparsely populated).

Within a five-minute time span, a flash of dread on the bike path was remedied by the selflessness of a stranger, who was willing to stop in overheated conditions while hurrying toward a demanding day at work.

The relentless heat made me eager to get out of the sun and oven-like wind gusts. As I rounded a midway bend in the trail that curves with the Willamette River, I heard the dreaded “Pop!” then “Hissss”. My tire was flat.

Embarrassingly, today I had set off for my commute with all supplies necessary to fix a fouled tube, except for one essential: Air. But before I could even start to worry about the long and hot walk home, something fantastic happened.

A lone passerby clad in serious-looking cycling gear looked over his shoulder and shouted “Need help?” Mortified but elated, I replied: “I’ve got everything but my pump.”

A generous stranger
lends a hand.

My newfound friend Tim swiftly took control of the situation, fixing the flat on his own in only a couple of minutes (it would have taken me twice as long). We chatted, and ironically, he was on his way to work at Jacob’s Heating and Air Conditioning.

“Man, I’ll bet you’ve had quite a work week,” I said.

“Yeah, I had a ten-hour day yesterday and will probably do the same today,” Tim said without even a slight hint of complaint in his voice. He brushed aside my apologies for holding him up in the heat while wrapping the replacement of my punctured tube with dizzying speed.

Within a five-minute time span, a flash of dread on the bike path was remedied by the selflessness of a stranger, who was willing to stop in overheated conditions while hurrying toward a demanding day at work.

The lessons of this story are obvious, so I’ll leave them at that. My main intent in sharing my heat wave commute experience is to thank Tim and to prompt some storytelling of similar happenings in the community. Have you experienced similar instances of sudden goodwill while riding amid this record-breaking heat wave?

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