East Texas neighborhood supporting cyclists with popsicles, cold water, encouragement
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - One East Texas neighborhood has taken the initiative to support local cyclists through encouraging words, hydration, and friendship. Every Tuesday, just before 7 p.m., those in the Briarcrest neighborhood start heading to their neighbor Hazel’s yard. Some people bring lawn chairs, others ice. It’s for their own fellowship, but they also share popsicles with those who come through their neighborhood by way of bicycle.
“These people are so wonderful with their cheers and encouragement. It feels so good. It’s almost like you’re almost in the Tour de France race. They make you feel great,” said cyclist Kristin Blaise.
When COVID-19 hit, the neighbors began distanced walking to keep in touch with their older neighbor, Hazel Edwards.
“We wanted to make sure she was safe and that she had people to talk to,” said neighbor Diana Koop.
They’ve done evening walking this whole time, up until a few weeks ago when it got too hot for walks, so now they gather in Hazel’s yard for popsicles.
“I love it. It’s a great group of people; it’s my support system,” Edwards said.
Tyler cyclists have come through their street for years, and eventually the two activities merged. Jim Jackson has been riding for about 12 years and says their support (and now the popsicles) have been great.
“Especially this year, it’s really really big. Sometimes it’s been over 100, so we’re like, well, do we want to ride? But actually sometimes some of us will ride just because we get to come and visit with these people. It’s really neat,” Jackson said.
Kristin Blaise has been riding for 21 years and says it means a lot when non-cyclists support them.
“It’s very important. I myself was hit by a distracted driver eight years ago, so when people in a community give us cyclists respect, it’s phenomenal,” Blaise said.
The group catches up on the week’s happenings, cools off, and tells jokes: “What has a neck but no head and still wears a cap? A bottle!” Those nearby cheer and enjoy the community they’ve created. Koop lives on the street and said they do whatever they need to take care of one another.
“We know they’re hot; we know they’re thirsty, and I think it was last week, one of them got overheated and we were here,” Koop said. “We had fresh water for them. We have cold water; we have popsicles. We’re just having the best time encouraging them, which then encourages us.”
Jackson said anytime cyclists can get together with non-cyclists, it’s a good experience.
“Just watching the fellowship here and people laughing, and I’ve become Facebook friends with some of them, and just watching the kids, that’s been really special,” Jackson said. “Every week there’s a few more adults come. We just love being outdoors, so getting to talk to these people, it’s really great.”
At the end of the day many of them are more similar than they may have realized before the ride.
“We’ve learned that we really are a small community, and so as we’ve all talked to each other, we all have these connections that we didn’t even know we had,” Koop said.
Blaise said it has been an excellent pit stop for them.
“We all look forward to it now. They just started it this season, so it’s been going on about six or seven weeks, and we’re so thankful for it. The heat makes a big difference, and their popsicles are the best,” Blaise said.
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