excerpt from Sam Walter Foss’s, ‘The house by the side of the road’
‘I see from my house by the side of the road, by the side of the highway of life, the men who press with the ardor of hope, the men who are faint with the strife. But I turn not away from their smiles nor their fears, both part of the infinite plan, let me live in my house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.’
Today I woke up to a flat tire, before we had started on our way, so I changed it with a bit of apprehension, hoping that it does not come back again. At this point the fall back plan is to hide my stuff in the woods, go on Craigslist and find a $50 bike to ride home if any more trouble comes up, so close are we at this point. These problems are likely due to the rough road we have been riding on these past few days, our bikes not well suited to the rattling they’ve been taking, and Sonali’s bike took a bit of a beating as well, losing a vital screw from her pedals, making it hard to clip in and out of. By the time she realized what was going on however, we were in Schenectady NY, and were able to find a bike shop a mile away.
What can be said about today? The familiarity of the forests we are now riding through resonates as a place that I have called home for the past 27 years of my existence, everything around us, just a few hundred miles from home, speaking in the flora and the fauna that I have become accustomed to over the course of my life. In that breath I look forward to communing with the ones that I have planted and watched grow, some taller than myself by now, at which point I bid them well, no longer under my care, to hopefully live a life much longer than my own.
This was part of the sense that I rode with today, and zoning out in this regard, I narrowly caught myself from bisecting a snake that was sunning himself lengthwise in the bike path. After that point I used a greater discernment of stick vs. snake, and in doing so was able to better avoid another one just a short bit up the road.
Today we were on more trail, the last of our stint along the Erie Canal trail, and I think we shall part with it without too much nostalgia for its questionable ending miles.
In the evening we ended up in Delmar, a suburb of Albany, and stayed with a couple, Anne and Steve, whose son had just completed a coast to coast ride himself, a few days ago, going east to west. In hearing all the positive stories and generosity he had been shown on his trip, they decided to host cyclists themselves, and we were their first guests.
In attempting to reach a certain expectation for hospitality, they greatly outdid themselves, as usual, and provided us with a wonderful home cooked meal, desert, and stories and pictures from their son’s adventure. The model they said they were following, based on their son’s recommendation, was to, ‘be like the extra set of grandparents the cyclists didn’t know they had,’ and so, for this one evening, we were showered with all of the familial care that a pair of roaming cyclists could ask for.
In this regard, and in reflection of the ‘Warm Showers’ cyclist hosting experience as a whole, I’m reminded of the Sam Walter Foss Poem that had come up once before in our trip, as a line of it had been spray painted on the side of a small house out in Montana, I believe. Rather than analyze it, I’d rather let it speak a bit more for itself,
‘I know there are brook gladdened meadows ahead, and mountains of wearisome height, that the road passes on through the long afternoon and stretches away to the night, but still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice, and weep with the strangers that moan, nor live in my house by the side of the road like a man who dwells alone.
Let me live in a house by the side of the road, where the race of men go by, they are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong, wise, foolish, so am I. Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat or girl the cynic’s ban? let me live in my house by the side of the road, and be a friend to man.’