Have you met a “Sheila?”

My work commute is an 18 mile round trip that consists of a straight line down Orange Blossom Trail, from Pine Hills to Parramore. Not exactly scenic, OBT, but the straight line ride is fast and for a novice like myself, that “shortest-distance-between-two-points” concept works for me. Over the last few months since I began cycling, I’ve had close calls, catcalls, and “Move your fat ass!” calls, but about 2 weeks ago, a woman named Sheila proved that there are people on the road who appreciate two-wheeled vehicles and their human motors.

Pedaling home in the 90-degree heat, warily watching the the approaching storm clouds, I heard the hiss of my front tire losing air and stepped off my bike to take a look. I was just south of Lee Road on OBT, about 3 1/2 miles from home. Having not replaced the spare tube from my last flat (yes, everyone, lesson learned), I thought,  “okay, it’s just like a 5k, I’ll just walk it home.” So I turned on the iPod and started hoofing it.

……which was difficult, seeing as there was a large sedan coming toward me–on the shoulder, in reverse. Very nice, I thought, with annoyance, what now?  The car stopped in front of me, and out popped a small and spry elderly woman with her white hair loosely tied back in a ponytail. “How can I help you?”  she asked in a New England-accented, Katharine Hepburn voice. Even as I was assuring her that I’d be fine walking home, she was opening her trunk. “Think your bike will fit?”  She started moving objects from her trunk into her back seat. “That front wheel pops off, right?”  Next think I knew, my bike was packed into her car and we were on the way.

Sheila told me that she always smiles when she sees cyclists on the road, and how cycling looks so “freeing” to her. We chatted all the way to my house, where, when I tried to thank her for the help, she took my hand and said, “What a pleasure it was to meet you, Robin; thank you for allowing me to help!”

The next time someone yells at me to ride on the sidewalk when they buzz by, I’ll remember this gracious stranger.

May you always meet a “Sheila” when you need her most!

8 replies
  1. LisaB
    LisaB says:

    Great post, Robin. Your wonderful story, and Sheila’s act of kindness, is just what I needed after the handful of “honks” and Keri getting “buzzed” (by a driver/car with a “share the road” license plate, to boot) on a jaunt to DeLand today. I’d like to think there are many more Sheilas on the road. We rarely hear about them. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kitzzy
    Kitzzy says:

    What a great story. Like Lisa, we had a close call today too and Jason got buzzed by an SVU with a bike on the back. Do we all turn stupid when we get in a car?

  3. andrewp
    andrewp says:

    Nice post, Robin!! For someone in a car, to stop and offer help — why, that’s a guardian angel.

    May Good Karma to come to anyone who is a Shelia ….

  4. Robin Frisella
    Robin Frisella says:

    I’m starting to feel like we’ve coined a phrase–
    “Sheila”= good Samaritan!

Comments are closed.