Dale’s Story

CIMG0139I commute by bike the 13 miles from Bellingham to Ferndale and on the way home one evening I spotted a guy pulled off on a side street with an unfolded map and a confused look on his face. I almost didn’t stop but then I noticed he was touring with a loaded bike and was obviously not from around here. Not even close.

I’ve ridden across the U.S., Indonesia, and Australia with countless people in all three countries doing ridiculously nice things for me along the way (like that one time, in Indonesia, when the volcano erupted…) so I figured this may be my chance to pay back a small portion of all those kind deeds.

Masayuki Ikeo (goes by Masa), is a Japanese college student from Kobe who had just finished a 6 month English speaking course in Vancouver. He was on day 2 of a west coast bike tour that would eventually take him to San Diego, CA.

The first day of his journey was rough as he got a couple flats (that he didn’t know how to repair-luckily he was near a bike shop) and had some navigational issues. He didn’t know where he was going to sleep that night so I told him he could spend the night at our house.

Riding home with him I noted his rig, a 1970s vintage “Chi-Mo” branded 10-speed that was loaded down like a Nepalese porter. It probably wouldn’t make it to San Diego even if the 50cm frame had come close to fitting his 6’2″ body. So I thought I better “trade” him my 58cm Jake the Snake commuter bike if he had any hope of finishing his journey.

Masa’s one night at our house turned into three by the time I fixed up my commuter, gave him some flat changing lessons, took him to a party to watch my hockey game, to a BBQ, out to eat, shopping, etc. My wife and I went through all his gear and picked out 1/3 of it that would be left behind as he was way too heavy. Laptop, 2 walkmans, full size shampoo & conditioner, had to go. We even gave him a few pieces of more appropriate Kona gear to complete his kit.

Thus went his first few days in the U.S. after being warned that most of “us” were gun totin’ rednecks drivin’ big trucks with confederate flags lookin’ for cyclists to run off the road after bouncing a beer bottle off their heads. I think he rode away on my/his bike in a state of shock.

He completed his trip down the coast with some good tales then came back to Vancouver where his mom met him from Japan to travel around the area for a few weeks. They took us out to dinner, gave us presents from Japan, and spent the night at our house. It was the first time his mother had slept in someone’s house outside of Japan which was a big thrill for her. Masa took the Jake back to Japan to use as his campus bike so it’s fun to know my trusty old steed that I raced ‘cross on for a couple years before turning it into a commuter is on to another fun chapter in its life.

Not that I totally paid my past debts, but I feel as though I made a good dent in the imbalance I have felt in my traveling fortunes over the years.

11 thoughts on “Dale’s Story

  1. zrider says:

    what an amazing story!!! that is how riders work together to make things better on a small scale and the impact can be global. i hope there is a time one day that i can help someone like this. san diego is a great place to finish a long ride.

  2. Good karma to you! That’s always a nice card to have in your back pocket… I hosted two backpacker kids from Belgium last summer after they blew a hole in their budget when they mentally reversed the price of their hotel room- they thought it was $48 when in reality it was $84 plus all those lovely American taxes. We’re Facebook friends now 🙂

    I started a blog… it’s in its infancy but I have great hopes. Check it out at mountainkidd.wordpress.com

  3. barb pflaum says:

    I have always known you are the nicest guy!!! What fun to have a new friend!!!

    Love ya, Barb

  4. TrailMonster says:

    Awesome! Keeping the kharma file full of good sure doesn’t hurt.

  5. Ted Nugent says:

    “…presents from Japan”

    I want to know more. A samurai sword with the blood of a “gun totin’ redneck..”?

  6. Kevin says:

    Way cool! It’s awesome how your random act of kindness turned into an adventure that all of you will remember fondly the rest of your lives!

  7. Scott says:


    That’s a great read and so you to help Masa.

  8. Karen says:

    It is sssoooo nice to hear of a human being human in this day and age. Thank you for showing kindness to a stranger. (even if you felt you were repaying a debt) Either way you still showed the way the world should act. We are here for each other. We were programmed to need each other from the very start!

  9. Todd Scott says:

    That Dale person sounds like a great guy!

  10. Linda Kidd says:

    Brother Dale,
    You are the coolest guy I know. How lucky Masa was to have met you. Everything happens for a reason and you were at the right spot to help him. I am glad he now knows we Americans are good people. Some of us still like to drink beer however!! Keep up the good work. Love you, Sis

  11. Denny Smith says:

    Dale you are a great guy to help a stranger. Your kindness was priceless. Those memories will last forever.

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