Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road is an online cycling magazine. It is intended for writers and riders who want to share their on the road cycling stories and pictures. Submissions that follow our guideline are gratefully appreciated. See the appropriate page in the site menu. Will publish the best of the best each month. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @PicosCycling.

Friday, 30 May 2014

The Kindness of Strangers: A Safe Place to Sleep

By Nancy Sathre-Vogel reprinted by permission from her site http://familyonbikes.org/
It was a long day in rural Texas. We had battled stiff headwinds for 50 miles already and were more than ready to call it a day.
For ten miles we had been searching for a spot to pitch our tent, but Texan roads are known for their vast stretches of miles and miles and more miles of nothing but empty Texan roads with fences on either side of the road.
cycling on windy day
With 5000 miles under our belts, we felt we knew the ropes. We had camped in woods or deserts off the side of the road about 150 nights already, and had never been stuck. There was always a spot for a tent hidden back there somewhere.
Until Texas.
As we wearily pedaled our heavily-laden bicycles along that long, lonely, fence-lined road, we pondered our options. Should we set up our tent in the narrow stretch of grass between the road and the fence? How dangerous would that be? Would we be able to forgive ourselves if – God forbid – a car veered slightly and flattened our tent while our precious children were sleeping?
Mile after mile passed slowly under our wheels. The cold wind whirled around our faces, turning our noses and ears rosy red. Our fingers ached in the near-freezing temperatures.
cycling Texas
Absolutely exhausted, we collapsed onto the side of the road as the sun made its final approach toward the horizon. “I wish a rancher would pull up and invite us to his ranch,” my husband mumbled.
winter cycling“That would be wonderful,” the kids and I mumbled.
Less than a minute later, a big black SUV pulled up beside us. A window came down and a friendly face popped out.
“Where are you going to sleep tonight?” he asked.
“We have no idea,” John replied. “There’s just no place to set up a tent around here.”
“I tell you what,” the rancher replied. “Why don’t you come on back to our ranch? The gate is just up here about half a mile.”
Elated, all four of us piled back on our bikes and set out behind that black car. The rancher unlocked the gate, and we all bounced and jiggled down the rough rocky road back to the ranch house.

And that is how we found ourselves sitting around a table eating an enormous pot of spaghetti with Greg, Marthalynn and their four children.

About the Author 

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people’s kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family – three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It’s a fairly sure bet that you’ll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she’s collected all over the world.