Between April and October is the period when there are many bike events. I enjoy these events because I ride in locales that I would not have ridden on my own; it also forces me to ride longer distances. I use the time during bike riding to formulate what I am going to write about. It is one of the few times during the week when I cannot be distracted.
Normally I start the year with the Tour of Staten Island in April and end it with the Tour de Bronx in October. Not this year. Every bike tour was cancelled due to COVID except for the Nassau-Suffolk Bike Challenge, which was held on October 25. The tour is usually in June and the longest distance is 66 miles. However, this year, not only was it in October, but the longest route was 35 miles.
While I was riding, I decided that I was going to write about positive thinking. I was going to mention that instead of dwelling about the negatively, which in the days of COVID and a divided country there is plenty of, it is important to try to look at the bright side of things. For example, instead of lamenting why this year the bike ride occurred on a cold day in October instead of during warm June weather, consider that it did not rain. Instead of dwelling on the cancelled bike rides, be happy that there was a ride and that I am healthy enough to participate.
Even though we are in the middle of COVID and a contentious election, people are voting in record numbers, including many who are waiting hours to cast a ballot. Since the courts are operating remotely, I have saved so much time not having to travel or wait in court for my case to be called.
After I had decided what I was going to write about, a few miles before the end of the ride, disaster struck. I got a flat tire - a pinch flat in my rear tire. The second the tire hit part of the road that was sticking out, I heard the sound of air escaping. I may have many talents, but changing bike or car tires is not one of them.
The good thing is that I was within walking distance of the starting location. Maybe there could be someone who could fix the flat. Also, in the past, I had driven to the starting location in Tappen Beach Sea Cliff, but this year my wife dropped me off because she was going to help my daughter, who, with her husband and daughter, is moving to West Hempstead. I was planning on riding home after the bike ride.
I called her and she said she had not even left to drop the stuff off in West Hempstead. Therefore, unless there was someone at Tappen Beach, I was looking at a situation where I would have to wait a few hours in the cold until my wife could come pick me up.
I started walking and crossed the street to walk toward traffic. Two riders who had finished the ride were going in the opposite direction. They were not the first riders to ask me if I needed help, but they were the first ones to do something. They stopped and changed my tire. I had my helmet on so there was no indication that I was frum by how I was dressed (my tzitzis were tucked inside). They helped me not because I was a fellow frum Jew, but because I was a fellow bike rider in distress.
While they were changing the tire, I mentioned about my wife bringing stuff to West Hempstead as part of my daughter buying a house and moving there.
Turns out, they are both from West Hempstead and know my son-in-law’s family. One of them lives only a few blocks from where my daughter is moving.
They told me their last names and I did not think much of it until I was a few miles from home. I remembered that the leader of the Etz Chaim minyan which I had davened at as a teenager in Bayside had the same last name as one of these men, and he had sons in West Hempstead. I reached out to him and sure enough it was one of his sons. It was over a long period of time, but father and son of the same family helped me. The father helped me spiritually and the son helped me physically.
This is just another example of even in these trying times, there is hope in the goodness of humanity.