Helpful Montana couple honored in Bike Travel Awards

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It must be difficult these days for the Adventure Cycling Association to decide who to honor in its annual Bike Travel Awards.

More people than ever are being nominated for awards associated with helping touring bicyclists get down the road. Alison Riley, awards committee chair, said they received 60 nominations for the 4 awards this year.

"Trail Angels" Patti and David Bruner; photo from Crazy Guy on a Bike

“Trail Angels” Patti and David Bruner; photo from Crazy Guy on a Bike

A case in point is the 2014 Trail Angel Award. The first Trail Angel was the famous Cookie Lady, the late June Curry of Afton, Virginia. It is given to people who go above and beyond to rescue bike travelers, feed them, give them a place to stay, or offer other support.

The winners this year are David and Patti Bruner, of Ryegate, Montana. They were nominated by Mark Metz and Ray Boyer, who pulled into the town with no motels or campgrounds on a stormy afternoon last summer.

In the nomination, the cyclists said they were setting up camp in a city park when David Bruner came by and invited to stay at his home. The nomination tells more:

“As we settled in for the evening, Dave explained that when the weather is bad — and frequently when it is not — either he or Patti drive by the town park to see if any touring cyclists are there, and to extend the offer of shelter, a place to sleep, shower, do a laundry, and enjoy a few home cooked meals.

“In other words, we were the rule, not the exception. David and Patti seek out cyclists riding through their town and extend their offer. It is not unusual for them to do it when the weather is good, just out of the fellowship of the road. They are avid cyclists themselves and so know how much a warm bed, a laundry, and a meal mean to riders on tour. They’ve been extending their hospitality to cyclists for years.”

More help

I had never heard of Ryegate before, but I assumed it was on the Northern Tier Bicycle Route. I did a quick Google search and pulled up a reference to Ryegate in Crazy Guy on a Bike and discovered the Bruners weren’t the only hospitable folks in Ryegate.

Four guys biking the Northern Tier to raise awareness for wounded vets (CCC4Vets – We Ride for the Wounded, John Foldberg, Nathan Macfarlane, Daniel Macfarlane and Evan Gillham) were three weeks into their cross-country trip when they approached the town.

June Curry 1984

June Curry 1984 (the first Trail Angel Award winner)

One of their wives searched Google for a place for them to camp. Turns out, that a couple in Ryegate takes in bicyclists and lets them camp in their yard.  I thought this would be the Bruners, but no. It’s another hospitable Ryegate family, Tex and Sherry Carpenter. Here’s what the cyclists wrote online:

“(My wife) emailed them and asked if we could pitch our tents in their yard. All we had to do was make it the 4 miles off the road we were on. Let me tell you, the ride was absolutely worth it. This special place is owned by Tex and Sherry Carpenter. They cooked up 16 oz grass feed beef steaks, potatoes, home grown beans, homemade bread and butter … and some awesome desert. We had a delightful evening sharing our ride and the purpose for it with the Carpenter’s, and their friends. It was a wonderful evening.”

Ryegate, Montana, population 245, of which 4 readily take in traveling bicyclists. Maybe the town should get an award.

More awards

Other awards handed out by Adventure Cycling:

Pacesetter Award: Bruce White of Fredericksburn, Va. As scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 165, he’s integrated bicycling into their routine. Scouts have participated in short learning rides to trans-continental adventures.

Sam Braxton Bike Shop Award: Green Mountain Bikes of Rochester, Vt. Not only is the owner and staff knowledgeable about touring bikes, but very helpful to rescuing traveling cyclists who have broken down on the road.

Volunteer of the Year: Rami Haddad of Lexington, Mass. Rami helped Adventure Cycling in its beta testing of a digital mapping project. This is in additional to his regular volunteer role in helping bicyclists with questions about GPS.


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    • Jack on February 4, 2015 at 5:40 am
    • Reply

    Whether it’s empathy, sympathy or simply generosity it’s nice to know that cyclists are getting help when needed.

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