June Curry Afton, Virginia
Retired store clerk, now Cookie Lady, age 82
"Ive been aiding cyclists since 1976, when a bicentennial tour brought a bunch of them through our little town. Afton had become part of a national bike-club route that took them on the Blue Ridge Parkway for 33 miles with no gas station, campground, or anything. My dad and I put out a hose and made a sign that said Water for bikers. Then, whenever I saw cyclists come through, Id give them what I had on hand: homemade cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Thats how we got started, and its why they still call me the Cookie Lady.
"When my uncle diedhe lived next door and enjoyed talking to all the cyclists who stopped bywe decided to turn his place into a bike house and stock it so people had somewhere to eat and rest overnight. I dont have beds but I have four sofas and a big stack of blankets and pillows. All the rooms have carpets on the floors, so they can put down sleeping bags. For years it was free, but Ive had to go on Social Security, and I get only $292 a month. So now I have a cookie jar out for donations, and some of the bike clubs who come through also help out. Ive had cyclists from all 50 states and 50 foreign countries. The logbook in the bike house has more than 11,000 entries!
"Some say its dangerous to let strangers stay in your house, but Im much more comfortable with cyclists than I am with someone in a car. I asked one of the bike leaders why it was that when a bicyclist comes to the door Im not afraid but when a fella comes in a car I am. And he said, First, we move too slowly to get away; second, weve got more to carry than we want to already, so why do we want what you have? Last, most people who do bad things are looking for the easy way, and what we do is definitely not easy. I dont have any close family left and so I just call the cyclists my bike family." interview by Marilyn Berlin Snell
Pedal Pushers: If each resident of an American community of 100,000 replaced a nine-mile car trip with a bike trip just once a month, it would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 3,764 tons per year.