I didn’t realize it until google photos reminded me but today was the 5th anniversary of the end of the 500 Kindnesses Ride. What was this? Daegan, then 13 and I did a ride together to promote the idea of doing random acts of kindness. We treated it like a fundraising ride but instead of asking people to give money, we asked them to do something nice for someone. We would ride from Toronto to New York City – both cities with reputations as cities filled with unkind and irritable people. It was pretty successful and changed my own attitude and outlook about humanity. I learned that there are a ton of people doing wonderful things all over the world.
The day, our 19th on the road and 25th away from home started just about 50 km outside of New York City at a couchsurfing host’s. Since our next host would be near Coney Island it seemed appropriate that we play this as we got dressed:
(Somehow for no good reason, the Beastie Boys get a great deal of airplay on our trips – far more than they do at home)
Like us up until then they were a homeschooling family and we had a really great time chatting about that and parenting in general while they fed us piles of french toast. Once full we headed out. About an hour later as we rode down a busy road, we heard a loud diesel truck approaching and horn honking repeatedly. What could this be? Big trucks don’t honk their horns for good reasons and so we looked nervously at the person passing. A giant construction truck drove by honking and stopped ahead. As we past, our previous night’s host cheered from the drivers seat. “You’re almost there!!!!!”
We rode closer to the city, and soon another cyclist on a much faster bike rode up next to our tandem and asked us about our trip. Then he asked how we were getting the bike back home. As Daegan was growing out of it rapidly, we had decided to give it to Achilles International, a nonprofit that works with differently abled athletes including blind and visually impaired cyclists. Our tandem bike would be staying at our arrival point in Central Park where a sighted cyclist would ride in the front and a visually impaired athlete would be in the back. The other cyclist was extremely interested to hear about this as he was an eye surgeon and hadn’t heard about it before and thought it might be a good thing to refer some patients to. Funny how connections are made sometimes.
Finally, we reached the George Washington Bridge – the border of New Jersey and New York where we would end our trip.
Once we got over the bridge (there’s a separate bike/pedestrian path so no sharing that crazy road), we headed down a bike path near the Hudson River. We rode to Central Park where we met the guy who would take our bike and a film crew who made a short video about 500 Kindnesses – I’ve shared it before but it’s here if you missed it:
One of the things we did was to ask strangers to make pledges on white boards and be filmed with them. We got a bunch but one of my favourite moments was with this guy:His idea was to say an encouraging word to the next guy he saw. And as soon as the camera turned off, there was an older man working hard riding up a hill near us. He ran along side him saying “You can do it!” very sincerely. It was so beautiful to see.
After the filming was done, we grabbed or panniers and headed down to Brooklyn. Where we did sleep – and met another really wonderful host whom we are still friends with five years later.
(Having a great trip, by the way – but will make it a short entry today. Riding tomorrow then taking another rest day so will likely write more then.)