I am involved in all three triathlon sports, namely: swim, bike & run. As a runner and cyclist I regularly see other people on the road as they train. I started running in the 80’s and it was drummed into us as runners that we should always greet other runners.
The majority of runners still greet each other on the roads.
Mountain bikers generally greet other athletes on the road, and will often stop to help cyclists who have broken down.
Road cyclists generally do not greet anyone.
I complained about this on twitter about a year ago and a number of responses came through that were quite fun. They went as follows:
What do you call a road cyclist who greets people? An ex-mountain biker.
What do you call a runner greeted by a road cyclist? Surprised.
What do you call a swimmer greeted by a road cyclist? Lost.
So where does this culture come from?
Road cycling generally attracts more type A personalities whereas mountain biking generally attracts a calmer nature loving group of people.
Where should we go from here?
I firmly believe that all involved in road/off road training need to be encouraged to greet each other. The cycling/running community is a smallish group and this group faces some unique challenges.
All athletes face a number of challenges.
1. We use roads and therefore can be victims of bad drivers. A year and a half ago, five runners were killed by a drunk driver in Midrand. At the beginning of this year, Burry Stander died in a tragic bike vs mini bus accident. We are therefore all at risk.
2. We all face health risks. Things go wrong in athlete’s bodies from; heart conditions, dehydration, asthma, diabetes e.t.c. In such cases your life might just be dependent on the cyclist who just rode past. A number of runners that I run with are members of the medical profession, or are trained in first aid.
So, with tongue in cheek, here is some advice to road cyclists.
Subdue that type A personality just a bit and greet those around you. You will not drop your average speed too much.
Realise that runners love to run because they love to run. They are not forced to run because they cannot afford to buy a bike. Realise that your greeting will be reciprocated by a smile and a friendly wave and that will probably encourage you to go just that bit faster.
I regularly run past one of our customers. He is retired now and takes his dog for daily walks. Whenever he sees me approach he calls out, “Looking good!”. Those two words have a dramatic effect on me. My running style transforms itself, and I begin to resemble Haile Gebrselassie. This transformation, however, only lasts for 7 to 8 seconds, and then due to a whole number of reasons, I settle back into my plod. However, there is a moment of brilliance that otherwise would not have been experienced.
I purposely chose a picture of Chrissie Wellington for this blog. The reason for this is that she embodies two things. 1. She was one of the world’s fiercest competitors. 2. She never forgot how to smile and greet.