Saturday, October 9, 2010

Everyone is Different and . . .

Different is Good!

If you hang around my house often enough you will eventually hear that being said. When my now 9-year-old daughter was born, I decided that I didn't want her growing up with any type of prejudice. I wanted her to grow up knowing that we are all different in some way or another and it's best to make the decision whether to like/respect somebody based on how a person behaves and not on what they look like, where they come from, or what they believe in, etc. (Right about now Scott is out there reading this and singing Kumbaya ;-)

I'm guessing you are asking yourself what the f#@k does this have to do with a bike blog. Well, I know it's going to shock you to hear this but, I ride a recumbent. I LOVE my recumbent. My recumbent is fast, my recumbent is comfy, and my recumbent is different. However, the recumbent world is a small one. So when one friend leaves the country and another gets busy making wine or doing some other equally interesting thing, there aren't many other people with whom to ride. So, when I saw in the local community education booklet that there was a series of 24-mile rides being offered to those who had road bikes or hybrids, I was faced with a dilemma. I wanted to meet some local cyclists to ride with, but I am different - I ride a recumbent!

Well, I'm guessing you've figured out by now that I don't let little things like that get in my way. So, I wrote an email to the ride leader asking what the average pace of the rides would be and why it was only being offered to road bikes or hybrids. (I kinda forgot to mention that I had a recumbent ;-) She wrote back that the rides typically break into groups to accommodate different speeds and that the only reason they requested road bikes or hybrids is because the bikes need to be comfortable for the ‘long distances,’ but I could ride whatever bike I had. So, I signed up!

On the day of the first ride I did, indeed, show up with the bike I had! I am extremely happy to report that, at least from what I could outwardly see, nobody had an issue with the fact that I had a recumbent. On the contrary, I found people to be extremely intrigued by my bike. This reaction was in extreme contrast to what I was given to expect from recumbent riders who had previous experience riding with upright cyclists. As a matter of fact, when I told one recumbent-riding friend that I had signed up for this series of rides without disclosing that I had a recumbent, he said, "They are going to love that . . . NOT!" But it turns out, it's been great!

My guess is that this open-minded attitude has everything to do with the type of riding these people do. They are people like me. They aren't competitive. They just want to get outside and get some exercise while enjoying the world around them. So they aren't even a little bit intimidated by the fact that, with very little effort, I speed out in front with my friend Bob and we don't see them for the rest of the ride (more on that later.) Or maybe, they've met my daughter who has told them that, "Everyone is different and different is good," so they are judging me by how I treat them and not by the fact that I am one of those evil recumbent riders.

To that end, I have done my best to just be friendly and not say too much about what I see as the benefits of a recumbent over an upright bike. (After all I am trying to make friends here.) However, after the first ride when one of the women was complaining that her butt was killing her and that she needed to buy a new seat, I couldn't resist recommending that she try one like mine!

And now, I'm going out to ride on this beautiful day. I hope you are out enjoying it, too!


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