Good Samaritans Helped Me Finish the Tour of Hope After Mechanical Breakdown

Tour of Hope DC Fund-raising Ride
2004 Tour of Hope DC Fund-raising Ride:
Map includes labels of places where events
in this story took place. Data came from my
Garmin Forerunner 201,
and was mapped by GPS Visualizer.
Click on the image for a larger map.

I had a mechanical incident during the 2004 Tour of Hope DC Fund-raising Ride-- one of the pedals on my Marin Bear Valley SE mountain bike broke off the crank on a steep hill about 8 miles into the ride. Support was supposed to be available on the course, but I didn't see a course marshall or a support vehicle near the place where I broke down.

I found that I could keep the broken pedal on the pedal axle bolt by pointing my toe inward while pedaling. I decided to continue riding until I found a support vehicle or until I reached the restaging area at the Irish Inn in Glen Echo, MD. The Irish Inn was about 10 miles beyond where my pedal broke. I didn't find a support vehicle before reaching the Irish Inn.

When I got to the restaging area, I saw my friend Cecil Ledesma almost immediately. I told him about my problem, and he suggested that I go to the announcers table and find a bike mechanic immediately. For the next 10 minutes, I waited for a bike mechanic to be located. Finally, the people at the announcers table told me that the Mavic Support Vehicle was parked a couple of hundred feet past the Irish Inn on the side of the road. They told me to walk my bike to the Mavic car and they would help me.

I found the Mavic car, but it was locked and there were no technicians around. I found another marshall with a race radio, and he told me that the drivers had gone to use the mens' room and would be back in a few minutes. I went back to the Mavic car to wait.

Thi s time, two men and a young boy were standing next to the Mavic car, admiring it. The kid asked me something like, "Do you work for Mavic?" I said, "No, I just need help." One of the men asked me what was wrong. I showed him the broken pedal in my hand. He said that he could fix this at the bike shop he keeps in his basement at home, a couple of miles from here. If I came with him, he would replace my pedal in 10 minutes or so, and get me back on the road in time to meet the peleton when they leave the Irish Inn. I said, "OK, let's go."

We threw my bike in the back of his pickup truck and took off down the road to his house. The man introduced himself as Dr. Steven Sharpe, an Emergency Medicine doctor at a DC-area hospital. We were riding back to his house with his friend Greg Millett and a son of one of them, whose name I didn't write down.

sharpe_attaching_new_pedal_1.jpg
Sharpe Attaching New Pedal: Dr. Steven
Sharpe
attaching a new right pedal to my
mountain bike, helping me finish the 2004
Tour of Hope DC Fund-raising Ride.
[ photo: Greg Millett ]
More photos of the Tour of Hope.

When we arrived at Dr. Sharpe's house, we went into his basement, where he had hundreds of pieces of sports equipment including road and mountain bikes and ice hockey skates. He did find a right-footed pedal that was about the size and shape of the one that had broken. He quickly installed it on my bike and figured out how to get my toe clip assembly to attach to the new pedal. I was thanking them and posing for pictures only 15 or 20 minutes after we arrived.

They pointed me in the direction of Macarthur Boulevard and said that I can meet the riders there. I followed there instructions and came to an intersection where a number of spectators were waiting. I asked, "Which way are the riders going?" Most of the spectators pointed to the right. I started riding in that direction, thinking that the peleton had passed a while ago, when one spectator said, "But they haven't passed by here yet."

I turned around and rode northwest a short distance on Macarthur before I found the police escorts and the other lead vehicles for the peleton. I pulled off to the side of the road and waited, looking for my friend Cecil. I hopped on my bike when I saw him, caught up, and told him and a few other nearby riders about the adventure. I finished the ride with the rest of the field, under my own power.

aiello_sharpe_bike_pickup_truck.jpg
Posing with Dr. Sharpe and the Fixed Bike:
Thanks to Dr. Steven Sharpe and his friend
Greg Millett, I was able to finish the ride.
[ photo: Greg Millett ]

Needless to say that I am indebted to Steven Sharpe and Greg Millett for their help. What they did is in the spirit of the entire Tour of Hope-- they helped someone who had no expectation of being helped. I just hoped to be able to finish the ride to honor the memory of my friend Peter Frank and to meet my friends and family.

Greg took a few photos of us while the repairs were underway. Hopefully, he will send those along in the next few days. If he does, I will add them to this story.

Update 10/28/2004: Greg Millett sent me his photos this morning, so I added a couple of them to this story. The rest can be found in the Tour of Hope Photo Archive. [ Thanks, Greg ]