Thursday, May 1, 2014

Making Friends -- The other Benefit of Running and Mountain Biking

When I lived in Camas, Washington I had a 16 mile commute to work which was usually done on a bike, even in the rain which was pretty much every day. Because Camas and Vancouver border Portland, the most bike friendly city in America, there were tons of cyclists commuting or just riding. My favorite commute home from work was to take the bike lane on the I-5 bridge from Vancouver to Portland, take the bike path along the Columbia River to the I-205 bridge, cross back over and head home.

The I-5 bridge bike path

The I-205 bridge bike path

I-205. The bike lane goes down the middle

It was hard to beat the views, especially in the fall, but the views were only one of the benefits of riding in the Northwest. Maybe the best part was the camaraderie among fellow cyclists. It seemed that when you rode by someone, you were instantly best friends for the sole reason that you were both on bikes and both had endorphins raging through your systems. I made several close friendships with people on my commute and during weekend rides. For example, because my place of employment was on the same road but farther than the hospital, I rode almost every day with a cardiologist. We got to know each other well through the spring and summer before his shifts changed. 

Road biking in Utah is a lot different. There is an elitist mentality that infects roadies here. It seems that you have to be wearing a full kit, carbon soled shoes with the proper logos, the right helmet and glasses, not to mention a bike that  must retail on or above $5000. When we moved from Washington and I took my first road bike ride in Provo Canyon then to the top of South Fork, then up to the Alpine loop, I waved at everyone and was full of cheery greetings. These were met with reluctant acknowledgement, mild annoyance, smirks and complete disregard. The only guy that returned a proper greeting was a shirtless guy on a Walmart bike smoking a cigarette. When I got home, I told my wife that I was going to be the happiest, most cheerful guy on any road bike in the state (not hard based on what I had seen) to see if I might rub off on people and show them a better way. So far I have been unsuccessful. 

Not so with runners and mountain bikers in Utah, unless the mountain bikers are actually roadies. At mile four this morning a fast runner passed me, waved and we chatted for a bit. His name is Seth Myer. 

Seth Myer -- A happy guy and a good runner

Seth is a fast runner and a great guy. I think he did about 14 this morning. I ended up at 11.1. He is the kind of runner that is consistently in good enough condition to run a marathon on any given weekend. I'm pretty sure we will end up at the same events more than once, and we will get to know each other better...or maybe given his clenched fist, he was getting ready to punch me. If you read this, Seth, please leave a comment. 

Near then end of my run, I saw my good friend and Cat 1 rider, Bryan Adams. 

Bryan Adams -- Pure animal and speed demon

Bryan is an animal on two wheels and in running shoes. He was on his way to the Altar, a ride I will cover in a later post. Earlier in the season, after a long day riding, he drove to the bottom of Bearclaw Poppy, turned on his Strava and let it rip. He ended up second overall out of about 1000 riders. I can only imagine what he could do on fresh legs. On that same trip, we converted him to slick rock riding. He wants to go again so bad he can hardly stand it. 

I suppose the message is to have fun and share good will. Unless you are a roadie, high endorphin levels have a way of bonding people together. Next time you are out, wave and say hi to everyone, especially roadies. They really need it. 

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