Embracing my Inner Recluse

Normally I am a social person.  I love to be around people.  I thrive on social interaction.  Except when I am participating in an endurance sporting event.  When I was able to run, it was a matter of survival– it was either breathe or talk.  In most cases, I chose to breathe.  I also enjoyed being in my own mind when I was running.  I found it refreshing and relaxing to be by myself.  It was my “me” time.

I am discovering that I am the same when it comes to biking.  Even though my husband and I now have an activity we both enjoy doing, I prefer to ride by myself.  I like that he is with me- or more accurately ahead of me- but I like to keep a large circle of personal space around me and my bike.

This weekend’s Tour de Palm Springs only confirmed my need for isolation when riding.   I enjoyed most of my fifty-five mile ride by myself.  My husband would go ahead of me and wait for me at certain points to make sure I was doing alright (yes, he’s nice that way).  Then I would send him on ahead because I didn’t want to slow him down, but also because I wanted to be on my own.

What do I think about when I ride?  Well, for some reason Taylor Swift’s song, Love Story, plays over and over in my head when I ride.  This is true for every ride… no matter where or how far.  I do like the song but I cannot figure out why this particular song plays in my head.  It has nothing to do with bike riding, traffic, flat tires, or road kill.  Yet, it’s there.  Over and over again.  “It’s a love story, baby just say yes”.

When I was a runner, I could listen to my iPod so I always had a variety of music.  I saw a few people with iPods during the ride but I prefer to make it home in one piece, so I’ll stick to my head version of Love Story.  There are lots of songs I would risk my life to get out of my head, but any Taylor Swift song is fine with me!

Besides listening to phantom music, I found myself giving people nicknames.  I used to do this during running races, too.  It’s amazing how many of the same people you see over the few hours it takes to complete an endurance event.  When I was running, I would come up with names like “Lobster Head” (for the guy in the lobster hat), “Faster-than-me-Grandma” (no explanation needed), “Heavy Breather”, “Barefoot Dude”, “Litter Bug”, and so on.

Some of the running nicknames also work for riding… such as “Faster-than-me-Grandma” and “Heavy Breather”.  Some unique nicknames I came up with during my first bike event were, “Hairy Chest Dude” (for the guy who seemed extremely proud to bare his extremely hairy chest for the entire ride), “Pointer” (for the lady in front of me who felt it her duty to point out every piece of debris, road kill, and poorly paved road along the way), “Love Birds” (for the couples who insisted in riding next to each other, thus making it difficult for others to pass), “Clickers” (for those riders who brave the clip-on bike shoes), “Squidward” (for the guy in the recumbent bike who looked like his namesake), and the “I’m-on-your-left-which-means-I’m-expecting-you-to-ride-your-bike-off-the-road-or-I-will-knock-you-downers”.

I could go on… I came up with lots of nicknames for lots of different people.  My husband thinks it’s mean but I honestly do not mean any malice in my names.  Well, except maybe for the “I’m-on-your-left-which-means-I’m-expecting-you-to-ride-your-bike-off-the-road-or-I-will-knock-you-downers”.  For most people, I come up with nicknames solely to entertain myself.  After a few hours in my own mind, I find myself pretty amusing.

During the ride, I even thought about what nicknames people may be giving me.  I came up with “Shifty” (I shift gears a lot, trying to find that happy place), “Neon-pink-shoes Chick”, “Slow-poke”, “Runny Nosed Rider”, and “That-crazy-lady-who-seems-to-find-herself-amusing Lady”.  Any of these nicknames would fit me just fine.  I take no offense.

I never completely understood why I liked to run alone alone.  I don’t understand why I like to ride alone.  I both envy and am baffled by people who enjoy sharing either sport with someone by their side.  As long as people can respect my need to ride alone, however, I will respect those who need to ride with someone else.  Just stay out of my way when I come up on your left, Love Birds!

Here’s a visual for those of you who do not watch Sponge Bob Square Pants