Adventures of Alex from Berkeley

Paul was riding his bike in Austin, TX when a stranger on a bike asked for directions. It turned out to be somebody kind of famous: Comedian Bill Murray.

Last Wednesday night I was in Menlo Park hot footing my way to church when a Chinese kid on a cheap discount store mountain bike asked for directions to Stanford. He didn’t look like anybody famous, so I blew him off and continued on my way.

Ha ha, just kidding.

Chinese Alex from Berkeley

Alex rode BART from his home near Berkeley to Union City, CA. To travel from the East Bay to San Mateo County requires crossing the Bay on a bridge. He told me he just traveled “roughly west,” found a bridge and crossed it in the traffic lane. Which is illegal and just a little insane, but never mind that — the kid made it to the Peninsula. (Yes, I know about the bike path alongside the Dumbarton Bridge, but Alex didn’t know about it and shared the lane with traffic crossing from east to west. I wonder how he got past the toll booths.)

I wasn’t headed to Stanford and started giving Alex directions, but decided this kid needed some help and offered to escort him to the campus. I told him I’d ride slowly for him. I also warned him that the Willow Road crossing over Highway 101 is a little sketchy, so stay behind me and do what I do. (Which reminds me: I owe Murph a Willow Rd article for his Hwy 101 crossing project.)

Alex, naturally, hugged the gutter and must have done something crazy because I heard multiple car honks behind me. I didn’t hear any collision noises so I kept going and stopped at the light in front of the VA hospital to wait for him to catch up.

From there it’s bike laned roads and a short bike path into Palo Alto. I decide to take him to the Caltrain station on University Avenue, where Alex can catch the free shuttles that loop around campus.

“What part of campus do you need?” I ask. He responds that he just wants to look around the campus, so I tell him to catch any of the Stanford shuttles.

I hope he made it home safely last night. Union City to Palo Alto is not a trivial journey for the uninitiated, but major props to Alex for putting aside the objections that ninnies like me make and taking this journey. He got on his cheap bike, rode 50 miles via transit and bike to parts completely unknown to him, and made it there.

My journey was delayed and I didn’t make it to my church service Wednesday night, but I did my part to be a good neighbor. Christ made it pretty clear in Luke 10 that service to others worship.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

He answered: " ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ "

"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"


  1. Great post!

    The other day somebody sneezed going past me in Orlando. I said, “Bless you.” My cycling club at Colonial High School has LOTS of kids with cheap bikes–it's available transportation, you know? But what I like about your post is that bike riding is humanizing.

    Oh, and great perspective on the teachings of Jesus. Something else to think about: People like to mock the “What Would Jesus Do” thing, but Jesus was a storyteller and a rebel who taught with metaphor, argued all the time and challenged people. Plus nobody from his hometown took him seriously. He also didn't drive a car 🙂

    Take care, and enjoy your riding!

  2. @Mission – I thought exactly the same thing. I looked through the 3/24/2010 entries but didn't find any likely candidates, so either nobody called or the CHP bot didn't catch the incident.

    I also took a look at the Dumbarton Bridge — no shoulders at all on those lanes!

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