“I’ve been watching you for years”.

“I’ve been watching you for years” seems like a creepy little greeting that sounds like I’ve got a bunch of stalkers but, it’s actually a good thing.. sort of.

It’s a statement I’ve heard for quite a while. I hear it because I’ve been cycling in the very same place for eight years and my schedule becomes familiar to people who see me regularly. Even with the recent transition to focusing on night sessions, the change has been recognized by a lot of people and they have been helping me out in small ways with things like exterior illumination.

I see many of the same faces day after day but have not talked to some of those faces before. If I’m ever seen stopped at the intersection of East and Moore, I at times get approached while I’m chugging a bottle of water. By the time I get to that point, I’m pretty gross looking. I typically do that between the 28th and 30th mile of the day. Although, sometimes I don’t stop at all if it’s not that hot.

It’s this time of year that I get the most attention from people. Because the weather is nice out, people who aren’t yet committed to a fitness (or are picking up their New Years resolution) begin to really come out in numbers. Even people who are just starting out start to come out now because we are in that small window of nice weather. I can’t blame them though. I debuted¬†cycling in mid-May many years ago and refused to start riding before March 1st for the first few campaigns until I converted to being a year round cyclist. The weather for exercising is kinda crappy most of the time until like April at earliest.

Enter: a woman who moved to the area late last year. She caught my attention very early during the cycling session yesterday. She lives nearby and I’ve seen her drive past many times before. Her car is kind of different looking and I would recognize it anywhere. But it was the first time I had ever talked to her. She told me that she had heard about me when she first moved in and tried to find me for a few weeks until she eventually did (she was searching at the wrong times). It was the first time I had ever seen her on a bicycle and that was why she caught my attention. She asked if she could ride with me in the opposite direction so that it didn’t feel like I was lapping her. I was cool with it and am always down with people coming on a neighborhood ride along.

She lasted about four miles and told me she was in pain. Her facial expression looked like it too. She felt bad that she couldn’t do the things I pull off on a daily basis. Then, I told her not to feel bad because I had to spend years working up to what I do. I spent months during my first campaign doing less than twelve miles a day because I would get tired easily and feel pain because I was riding a bike I was way too big for.

And, that’s always important for me to tell people if they start trying to follow things I’ve done over the years. The first thing is “You won’t be able to ride a lot without pain at first” (I still feel some pain at first years later). The second thing is “You will eventually fall off your bike”. I’ve fallen off fourteen times over the years and I will probably fall again at some point. It’s all about growing and learning from what you screwed up. Everything I’ve been able to achieve with cycling comes out of something that I had screwed up in the past. We will all make our mistakes and errors in our lifetimes. It is up to us to learn from them instead of dwell on them.

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