“You have to turn back. The road’s closed and you’re not going any further,” the deputy sternly told me.
I had come to a complete stop on my bike. A large Lewis County Sheriff’s Office truck sat across both lanes of a rural road and the deputy inside was all business. Up ahead, I could see a railroad crossing, a train stopped beyond the crossing, and investigators looking under the train.
I certainly was not going to cross those tracks that day.
Rogers Road south of Chehalis is one of my favorite “connector” roads, and like the theme to Nickelodeon’s Roundhouse stated in the 90s, you truly can go anywhere from here: south as far as you wish, west out to the Pluvius Hills, or north back home.
I could do neither of those three on this rather chilly December day in 2018. I had to turn around and alter my route.
Concern for the situation sat at the forefront of my mind as I bombed down Rogers back toward I-5, over the overpass and past the Port of Chehalis. Before long I was at Jackson Highway and decided to just simply head home.
With my bike pointed north, I fought a crosswind from the west and was lollygagging on the shoulder. Twenty-five miles on this day would be a decent feather in the cap, I decided, and I had plenty to think about on the way.
Suddenly, two other guys on bikes pulled up on either side of me on the shoulder of Jackson and introduced themselves: David and Scott, and they lived not far from me.
“We saw you up here so we thought we’d catch up and say hey,” Scott said. “We can paceline it back if you want.”
We chewed up 10 miles together, each taking two minute pulls so the other two didn’t have to work as hard, and when we got back onto a couple rural roads, we spent some time properly introducing ourselves. David spoke of his job at a local textile manufacturer, Scott talked about his construction business. I shared a bit about my IT background.
We exchanged numbers and pledged to meet up for more rides, and the day was certainly not a bust.
Funny how things work: in the coming months after I met David and Scott, I began to ride with their cycling group on Saturdays. I started off skittish, learned how to paceline and corner at higher speeds than I was used to, and two new friendships turned into ten before I knew it. Most importantly, I had a regular cycling group.
Had I not been forced to turn around that day, who knows what would have happened in the months since.
Meeting David and Scott confirmed to me that nobody meets by accident — and that’s a tenet that has guided my life for the past two and a half years.
Every interaction happens for a reason, even if we don’t know why at the time. Maybe it is to bring someone a moment of joy. Maybe you meet someone and they become a resource of knowledge.
And on a rare occasion, someone that you meet ends up changing the course of your life.
I now look at my interactions with people I meet much differently after that day, especially while on my bicycle.
Every person from a kind driver scooting into the other lane to pass and give a friendly wave, a farmer whose property sits at the top of an eight-percent climb offering to refill my water bottles, even a hello and a smile given to someone whose path intersects mine on the Willapa Hills Trail — absolutely none of it happens by accident.
Life brings us these beautiful intersections with other people’s lives, and in the grand scheme of my life I am fascinated that I can intersect with others whose life paths were so different than mine a month, year, decade before we met.
Nobody meets by accident.
It’s with that central concept in mind that I put pen to paper and begin this new venture I like to call Bike Like a Brewer. Camaraderie and community are as important to me as coffee, cycling, cameras and climbing — and I will attempt to merge all six into this space.
In the coming days, weeks and months, you’ll see this website grow in form and function as I chronicle the miles I chew through as I pedal onward. The mission will always be the same: to share my love of cycling with the world at large, and to be a source of inspiration for everyone wanting to get out on two wheels.
Bike Like a Brewer will combine personal experiences with photos, guides, routes, anecdotes and more. It’ll be a resource, photo gallery, story book, and chat space all in one.
I hope you find yourself at home here as well, and that the content I share is not just a meaningful way to spend your time, but that we can mutually feel as if we are connecting over a shared love of cycling and the outdoors. This space will be as much yours as it is mine.
Nobody meets by accident, and I’m really happy you’re here.
Onward we pedal. This is going to be fun.