“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
I walked into a bike shop today to pick up the tires I ordered weeks ago. After explaining why I was there, the guy who worked upfront smirked and said, “Yeah, someone just called in about you, he wants to buy the tires for you.” I was absolutely baffled and could hardly imagine that someone had really tracked me down in order to buy them for me. Sure enough, twenty minutes later, a cyclist I had met on the road yesterday (who I biked with for a good ten miles) walked into the shop. There are no words to describe how touched I was by his kindness. How was it possible that a guy who I had only known for a day drove over thirty miles through San Diego to buy all the bike gear I needed for the next leg of my adventure.
The outpouring of kindness I have received in the last month as I biked down the Pacific Coast has been absolutely astounding. It all started in Bend Oregon when the owner of Northwest Sports and Cyclery helped me get everything I needed to bike around the world. I was shocked that someone I had never met before walking into his bike shop was willing to put that much time and effort into getting me ready to go, for no personal gain. Since then, I have been taken in by countless of people for dinner, a place to pitch my tent, a shower, or a space on their floor. I had a cyclist in LA guide me through the crowds, then take me out to lunch on the beach. I had a guy pull up beside me in his car and yell, “hey, I’ll buy you lunch,” before handing me a handful of power bars. I had a surf camp instructor invite me to stay for dinner, the night, and breakfast at their camp before sending me off with a dozen packets of cookies and a huge jar of peanut butter. I have even had people hand me money because they want to support me in someway.
And it’s not just the physical things either. I can no longer count the number of times I have been cheered on by passing cars, or been stopped at a street corner by a curious bystander who wanted to wish me all the best. One of the most touching comments I have received came from a guy I briefly met while biking in Southern California. We only talked for ten minutes, but I gave him my blog, and later he emailed me this: “Shirine, you’re a real inspiration to all who come in contact with you. Your passion and enthusiasm reminded me of some of the people and their great expeditions of the past, like Lewis and Clark’s expedition across the US, and Ernest Shackletons expedition to the Antarctic. They never knew what was coming around the corner, and in a way, you will experience the same thing. “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.””
I have said it countless times, that this trip is not about the bike, but rather about the people, the different cultures I will experience, and the overall adventure of seeing the world from the saddle. That being said, I have really enjoyed pedaling the 3,000km down the coast as well. I feel healthier than ever before (guess six to eight hours of exercise a day will do that to you) and more free, unstressed, and happy, than I could have ever imagined. There has never been a moment since starting out on this adventure when I would have rather been somewhere else, nor a time where I have felt in danger or threatened. I am proud that in thirty-six days I was able to bike down the West Coast of the United States, but most of all, I am proud of the fact that a young, small, single female can cycle over 3,000km, and experience nothing but kindness.