Some days are just full of happy coincidences. 

 

On my way home from a Rotary committee meeting Tuesday around 2 p.m. I saw three bicyclists on north Adair Street who were obviously not local.  Front and rear panniers, overflowing truck racks and that healthy road tan indicated they were touring bicyclists.   They were riding slowly like they might be looking for something. 

 

I braked my vehicle, and shouted out the passenger window, “You guys need some directions in Pryor?”

 

They looked a little startled.  “If you need directions, I can help.” 

 

We were holding up traffic, so I swung into the Health Department parking lot and they followed me in.  I quickly explained that as a fellow cyclist, I’d be happy to help them.  Then I asked them where they were from.

 

“Winnipeg,” answered the darker, road-bearded one. 

 

“Wow,” I said.  “Have you cycled from there?”

 

“Yes,” was his reply.

 

The next obvious question was, “Where are you headed?”

 

“Mexico.”

 

Okay, I’ll admit my Cyclist Impress-O-Meter was pegged.

 

Then the motherly instinct kicked in.  “How are you guys holding up?  Do you guys need anything?”

 

“We’re doing well, just slower today.  We understand that Pryor doesn’t have a bike shop,” said Road-beard..

 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t answer in the affirmative. 

 

“Well, we’ve been patching tires and we could really use some tubes,” said the fairer freckled one.  “And we’re looking for a place called the Boomerang so we can get something to eat.”

 

In the course of the conversation that followed, I found out that they had met up with a guy on the road outside of Adair who given them the tip about the Boomerang serving some great burgers, and he even offered to take one of the guys to Claremore to the closest bike shop around 3:30 if they would meet him at the Conoco station.   But I wondered what would happen if, for some reason, they didn’t make a connection with this Good Samaritan. 

 

So I asked them what else they needed besides tubes. 

 

“We could use a tire for back up, and we’re a little worried about the map south of Muskogee which says that the highway is a controlled access highway.  Do you know what that means?”

 

“On the map, the highway changes color,” said the up-to-now quiet one.

 

I had to admit, I hadn’t a clue what a controlled access highway is.  But these guys had come a long way, they were trying to be safe and legal on Oklahoma roads, and they could use a bit of assistance.  And besides, “a fellow cyclist in need is instant family indeed,” so I developed a plan. 

 

I arranged to meet them within the hour at the Boomerang. Then I drove home, found two tubes in the bike gear stash, an extra tire, and called the OHP to find out about the highway.  Twenty minutes later, I found them polishing off the Boomerang’s finest and downing ice cold water.  I delivered the tubes, tire and highway information.

 

That motherly instinct kicked in again.  What if these guys got in a bind in the next few days?  They had mentioned some mechanical problems earlier.  Bike shops are not plentiful between here and the Texas line.  On a slip of paper, I gave them my name and cell phone number in case they needed help in the new few days, or their ride didn’t show for Claremore. 

 

Then I found out their story.

 

All 20 somethings, Lyndon Froese (Road Beard), Mike Friesen, (Fair and Freckled) and Mike Lenaghan (Quiet Guy) are on a grand adventure.  Lyndon is the only one who cycles. He basically encouraged his friends to do the trek.  Mike F admitted that his ride and equipment are borrowed, and the last time Mike L was on a bike prior to the trip was when he was 15. 

 

Lyndon is self-employed, Mike F is a senior social science major at Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg (but obviously not graduating this year!) and Mike L is a disgruntled mechanic no longer.  He quit his job to get on a bike and ride with his buddies.

 

Sometime over the summer, according to Lyndon, they decided to ride from Winnipeg to “the ocean” in Mexico.  So on September 4, they loaded their camping equipment on their bikes and left Winnipeg.  And 1039 miles later, on the 23rd, they arrived in Pryor.  When I commented that they were making good time, they said they thought they might be getting slower.  Oh, Youth!

 

The cycling Canadians are meeting some really interesting folks along the way.  They all laughed when they described a man named “Crazy Legs” in Baxter Springs, KS, who wowed them with his double jointedness.  I must admit that curiosity got the best of me.  Googling “Crazy Legs Baxter Springs”  brought me to the public radio station KRPS website where Dean “Crazy Legs” Walker is featured as an institution on Route 66.

 

Finding camping sites can provide challenges for touring cyclists.  Campgrounds are few and far between.  Most are located on interstate highways and cater to RV owners.  And bicyclists are not allowed on interstates.  Many municipal parks do not allow “overnight campers.”  The Canadians found that out in Afton, OK.  However, this traveling trio discovered what many cyclists who tour soon learn.  They walked across the street from the park, knocked on the door of a complete stranger, and asked nicely to set up camp on the property. 

 

“No problem,” said the homeowner, according to Lyndon. 

 

There are, however, often camping restrictions. 

 

Take, for instance, their overnight stay at Club Mucho, a “shooting club/bar” in Minnesota.  The name alone should have screamed, “Beware…Strange Place!”   They could hardly find a spott on the ground to pitch a tent that wasn’t covered in spent gun shells. 

 

“We were warned not to make camp in the front of Club Mucho because that’s where they shoot,” said Mike F.  “We kind of wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.” 

 

As they told more stories of their trip, I was impressed with their camaraderie, their confidence in their ability to complete the journey, and zest for adventure.  These guys were living way outside most people’s comfort zone, but they were having a great time.  I was envious.

 

When they complete their trip, they haven’t quite decided exactly how they will get back to Winnipeg. 

 

“We might take a bus, or a plane if we have to,” said Lyndon.  “Whatever works at the time.”   It was all beginning to sound very reasonable. 

 

They’ve been camp cooking quite a bit on this trip, but they’ve had their share of diner food also.  I asked if they had managed to score a free meal yet. 

 

“No, not a meal, but we’ve had free convenience store food,” said Mike F.  “You know, it’s the end of the day and the convenience store is trying to get rid of stuff they will have to toss anyway.”

 

“Hey, we did get some free Oreos,” said Lyndon.  “Not exactly health food, but they were good.”

 

“No one has taken pity on you, invited you in for food or decided to support your journey by funding your restaurant check?” I asked.

 

“No, not yet,” said Mike F.

 

“Well, there’s always hope.  I bet it will happen before this trip is over,” I offered.

 

And then happy coincidence struck again.  As they approached the register to pay, the cashier told them that someone had paid for their lunch.  As she handed Mike L a slip of paper, she told them that the person’s only request was that they send her a post card when they reached their final destination.  They were all smiles. 

 

As they thanked me for the gear and the info, and I thanked them for their time and sharing their story, I snapped a photo. 

 

Cautioning them to be extra careful, especially on Highway 69 which has some pretty bad traffic and plenty of tire-flattening road debris, I wished them Godspeed.

 

For a brief hour, I was a part of their journey.  What a happy coincidence…all the way around.

Canadian cyclists Lyndon Froese, Mike Friesen and Mike Lenaghan agreed that Boomerang burgers are the best they've had on their trip.

Canadian cyclists Lyndon Froese, Mike Friesen and Mike Lenaghan say that Boomerang burgers are the best they've had on the trip.

 

 

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