On this morning's ride I noticed something unusual. I was not waving, nodding, winking or “hello-ing” to my fellow riders. Very unusual behavior for me, the Trailer Park Cyclist, Friend of Man and Champion of the Underdog, Noble Knight of the Downtrodden, King of Beers, well, you get the picture. I always make a point of acknowledging those with whom I share the road, but not this morning. Why? Well, I would like to offer some some valid explanation, but instead I will just tell the truth: I was riding fast.
Blame It On the Frankenbike
Fast for me, that is. I was pedaling fast along the Indian River in an attempt to garner some kind of exercise out of what would have to be a short ride. As my loyal followers (both of you) know, my trusty 1981 Schwinn Super Le Tour is sitting in the corner of my palatial single wide, waiting for funds to become available for the new wheel set she has so long needed. So instead of long, long multi-hour rides on the Schwinn, I am now back to riding my '96 Mongoose Alta Single Speed Frankenbike.
And for whatever reason, pedaling fast and not waving to my brethren. And sistren(?).
I Become My Own Cliche
Who cares? Glad I asked. While riding fast, it seems I was thinking fast as well. At heightened speed it becomes necessary to pay closer attention to the road, traffic, squirrels, dog-walkers, all the myriad things that can go wrong fast when you go fast. But more than that, I was also just plain thinking fast, indulging in the Racing Thoughts Syndrome that I was trying to escape when I started taking those long slow rides. No, not thinking about racing, I mean thinking about how if I don't get it together pretty soon my head will explode and I need a new motor for my big work truck and a new transmission for my little work truck and for that matter I need some work and today is the second-to-the-last-shuttle launch better go watch it at 8:56 and right now it is 8:10 and I just realized the last two riders I passed said hello or waved and I ignored them.
How It All Began
Which is important to me because it all began with being ignored. A while back I submitted a guest post to the World Renowned Fat Cyclist's Blog. It was a story about how I was riding along in the country, listening to birdsong and daydreaming and not having racing thoughts when a guy blew past me from out of nowhere. I said hello but he ignored me and for whatever reason I started having racing thoughts, yes, thinking about racing.
The rest of that story can be found at the Fat Cyclist (Trailer Park Cyclist Vs. Cervelo Guy) but that isn't what is important here and now.
My story resulted in a lot of comments about attitudes in cycling, particularly that of riders in full kit on costly machines and, well, everybody else. One commenter said that while not meaning to snub their fellow riders, sometimes they are just concentrating on their training. I found this remark particularly vacuous. Training for what? The Apocalypse? The next time you need to blow off some poor old guy out in the middle of nowhere limping along on his crappy old ten speed?
But then there I was this morning, doing just that. TRAINING. Ignoring my fellow cyclists. Blowing off old guys on beach cruisers with fishing poles strapped to their rear triangles. Not seeing smiling, waving couples on matching comfort bikes. At least I'm still too poor to own a jersey, so I was mercifully arrayed in my homeless guy cycling wardrobe. Come to think of it, I blew off a homeless guy this morning, too. What a d-bag.
So what does it all mean? Well, truth is, once I realized what was happening, I spent the rest of the ride waving and smiling and nodding like a Pedaling Politician and it wasn't easy, in fact, in the interest of getting that exercise (training) I was after, in order to keep going fast (for me) I had to resort to the hands on the bars finger waggle thing that I sometimes get from those fast roadies who deign to acknowledge my wave. And it was kind of a pain to even do that, I would have been happier to just put my head down and concentrate on my spin, block out the world and those troubling thoughts in my head and just GO!
I Am Only An Egg
I don't know what it all means, man, or why I even worry about such things. I feel like an embryonic cycling experiment, searching for answers to questions nobody else is asking or even cares about. Except that I think other riders also think about this stuff; there were, after all, well over a hundred comments to my post at the Fat Cyclist on this very subject.
A Toast To Chad
I have some kind of Chad Gerlach-ian fantasy in my aging Rebel Soul of perfecting this image of the wild man Trailer Park Cyclist who can just chug a beer, jump on a bike, and then go out and blow off the Peloton Peacocks while doing a wheelie at the finish. But while fun to ponder, we all know that's not how it works in the Real World, a place I hope someday to visit.
But the truth is, I just want to get lean and strong and fast on two wheels. I want to knock out long rides with aplomb and write about it and maybe get others to do the same. I want people to realize that it is, after all, Just Riding A Bicycle. How you dress or what you ride is secondary to the fact that it all starts Out There. I know something else: once I get my Old Schwinn back up and running, I'm gonna go out and hunt down Cervelo Guy and tell him this story. We ride the same roads.
Here's how this morning's ride ended: as I got close to home I saw a roadie coming towards me at a good clip. I finger waggled. In our split-second encounter he seemed surprised, then said 'morning and finger waggled back. For some reason, we both smiled.
Whispering Pines Trailer Park