According to the Awesome Project, a Trail Angel is someone who provides help, transportation, lodging, or food to a hiker. Many times these random acts of kindness are what it takes for a hiker to pull through and continue on their journey when they feel like they have reached their breaking point.
Like hikers, I find that cyclists watch out for one another, whether on the road or mountain trails. There’s an unwritten code that we help each other when needed, a sense of camaraderie that is one of the things I love best about cycling — and cyclists.
I had heard the term Trail Angel used to describe people who help backpackers along the way, but hadn’t heard it used to describe cyclists until recently. Here’s what happened.
My friend, Debby, met me for a mid-week mountain bike ride at Phil’s Trail. The trail system snakes through miles of the Deschutes Forest and, while it’s well mapped, it’s easy for the directionally-challenged to get lost. With that in mind, Debby asked me to pick a route and off we went.
My friend is fine company. We ride at about the same pace, and the miles flew by. Our paths crossed that of other riders out enjoying the day, as we took a breather at trail junctions and hilltops. The riders were in fine form, obeying trail etiquette (such as giving uphill riders right-of-way) and cheerfully calling out greetings, like “Have a good ride!”
After climbing a few hills, Debby and I looked forward to cruising down a section of trail that we’ve dubbed Phil’s Canyon. Here the trail winds down through woods and over rocky stair-steps.
About halfway through the canyon we came upon a rider we’d seen earlier, as he politely passed us. This time the rider was jogging alongside his bike. “That’s not good,” Debby said. “Are you ok?”
“Just a flat,” the rider said. “I borrowed a demo bike and left my repair kit with my own bike.”
He was trying to make the best of a bad situation but it was at least three miles back to the trailhead. We hopped off our bikes and I offered the rider a tube, tire irons, and my pump.
“Really?” he said.
“Yes, lots of people have helped me in the past,” I said.
Debby and I hung out and chatted with the rider as he replaced his punctured tube with a new one. As we sat in the shade, every rider who passed us slowed to ask, “Everything ok?”
“I found some Trail Angels!” the rider said.
Debby and I laughed. We liked the sound of that.
We enjoyed our short break and the sight of seeing our new friend ride off, happy that we’d helped a fellow cyclist. We were just as likely to find help should we need it, in the future — since the world is full of Trail Angels.