It’s OK to Say Hi

The mercury hit 70 degrees in Omaha yesterday. By any stretch of the imagination, that’s pretty ridiculous for January. Last year at this time, we were girding for another winter storm to hit.

And it did:

As it turned out, that was the last gasp of winter. We were outside with regularity within a week. This year, it’s been so dry I can count the number of days I’ve been forced inside because of bad weather: one. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been cold; that it hasn’t been windy. But you can dress for those conditions. Add more layers and get to it.

Really, the biggest challenge has been riding to work with more regularity. It’s early and chilly, generally, and somehow there always seems to be a headwind on the way home. But I’ve been doing it. There have been some cold, cold mornings. And, actually, there have been some cold, cold evenings, too.

But despite that, I’ve fallen into a nice routine. And there are others along my route in a similar routine. Half of my ride in is on one of Omaha’s paved recreation trails. It follows a creek that runs through the city north to south. There’s no traffic to speak of and it’s fairly flat, making it a good place to walk, run, ride or be totally oblivious to your surroundings thanks to your iPod headphones.

Each morning, I say hello to the same people — at approximately the same time and place — on the trail. They’re into their routine, too. It’s a friendly greeting — a salutation to a fellow traveler — and it takes one second. I typically arrive at the office happy, relaxed and ready to tackle the day. (Or, depending on the strength of the coffee, ready to tackle my coworkers.)

With the recent heatwave, the trail system — in the afternoon, at least — has been a lot busier. More walkers, riders, runners, kids, dogs (and a cat, for some reason) and people totally oblivious to their surroundings thanks to their iPod headphones. On the way home last night, I saw a few dozen riders in total. I nodded and waved, much like I do in the morning.

And I was almost completely shut out. Not a not or a wave or a grunt or any form of acknowledgment from any of them. Nothing until I came upon a fellow racer, who said “hey!” before I could even get my hand off the bar to wave. The rest of them? Not even a twitch.

Even the people who were totally oblivious to their surroundings thanks to their iPod headphones were more responsive than that.

Cycling is at its best when it’s a communal undertaking. That’s why my morning greetings make me happy — especially on the coldest of days. That’s why most of my weekend riding has been with a group. It’s way more fun that way.

Keep that in mind next time you’re out there hammering away. It’s only bike riding. There’s no need to be so wrapped up in your own world that you can’t offer a wave or a nod. I’d take a grunt even. It’s supposed to be fun. And it’s OK to say hi.

Random link time:

  • Had Alberto Contador been sanctioned immediately, as he should have been, his suspension would be three-quarters over by now. But no — it’s still dragging on. And at this point, I really don’t care anymore.
  • The Capo Padrone thermal jacket got some love from Bike Radar recently. You can buy it here — and it’s on sale.
  • The men’s world cyclocross championships was, in essence, a replay of the Belgian national championships. More impressive to me, however, was Marianne Vos’ ride in the women’s race. He’s easily the most dominant cyclist in the world right now. She can win anything, and watching her dismantle not only the course but her opponents, too, is a treat.

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