Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rolling Out the Welcome Mat

Everyone loves their own sport.

I had heard some negative things about bikers and swimmers, mainly they are both hard "cliques" to break into.  However, I have found that to be incorrect. I think it's a matter of logistics. Think about it, when we run, we run together, side by side (well, if you run in a group). Swimmers might swim in the pool together, but it's not like you can really talk as you swim laps. That is a sport best suited for those people who are happy in their own world, because if you spend much time in the pool at all (unless you have a really great waterproof MP3 player), you are very alone with your thoughts. Like it or not.

Having said all that...everyone I've met while swimming has been just as friendly as all my running buds.  The guy who sits at the front "desk" of the pool who checks my pool pass always greets me with a smile and makes a point to bid me a cheery "have a great day" farewell as I'm leaving.  Any time I walk past the life guard (almost every time I'm at open swim), he/she smiles and asks how I'm doing. (I think they are probably just laughing at my less than fashionable swim shorts, but that's beside the point!)  Since I started swimming with the Master Swimmers (more on this in a bit), I've met two ladies in the locker room who were unbelievably kind in welcoming me to the sport they love. They made a point to introduce themselves and told me if I ever needed anything to let them know. (I don't think they can teach me how to be as comfortable in my own skin as they both obviously are, but maybe the act of sharing pool water with them will create some osmotic effect!!)

Biking is much better suited to friendly conversation (compared to swimming) as far as I've been able to tell....however, it's still more difficult than running (to chat that is). I have to qualify my comments because I've only been on one group ride so far. The only problem was that out of 10 or so people riding together, there were only a few of us with road bikes. The ones riding mountain bikes and Schwinns, and even the ones on road bikes equipped with platform pedals just didn't stand a chance to keep up with those of us who were clipped in.   It's not so much about fitness level as it is about equipment.  (Well, fitness level might have a little to do with how fast one can go, but I trust you know what I mean.)  So...on my "group ride" I spent a good bit of time alone.  ((This wasn't really a group ride for me, but training, otherwise I'd have slowed down to a more comfortable speed as opposed to pushing it.))

Having said all that, I have met several "bikers" who have graciously welcomed me to their sport of choice.  Although none of them have suggested we go on a ride together (probably because they are well aware I'm not up to the miles, or the speed, just yet) they have all been more than willing to share their opinions on everything from the best gruppos to shoes and even sometimes which finger to use to wave hello to the nice drivers who honk fond greetings as they whiz past.  (I choose to keep both hands, and all fingers, on the handle bars...but that's just me.)  While runners all have their favorite shoes, bikes and their components seem as personal to the user as a favorite meatloaf recipe. Sure, there are some widely recognized "favorites", but as soon as you think you know what the best of the best is, you'll find someone who has their own twist ("I use Dura Ace crankset, but prefer the Ultegra cassette..." much like "I use Ritz crackers in my meatloaf for that extra buttery flavor"...  My question is, could the average person really tell the difference??)

If you tell a biker they are crazy for spending $400 on pedals just to lose 8 measly grams of weight, you might not get a very good response. If you ask a swimmer how on earth they manage to spend hours in the water with nothing but their own thoughts to keep them going, you might not spark the warmest of conversations. What I've found, just like everything else in life....if you knock on a person's door with good intentions, he/she will generally roll out the welcome mat and invite you in.  I have been welcomed into the worlds of biking and swimming with all the enthusiasm I experienced from the running community.  I think I just might stay a while!!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon.


  1. When I was just a runner I looked at bikers as an us or them thing. Now I have swimming friend and biker friends and tri friends. They are some really great people in all these sports.

    Keep up the training. Are you going to do the Wet Dog. The Decatur Tri clubs is going to have an Aquathon in June. It will be a swim and a bike ride.

  2. Post made me smile. I agree. My gateway sport was running, but biking and swimming have proven super fun and people in all three are great. Glad I found your blog!


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