The Classification of Runners, Walkers & Cyclists

SUNDAY, JULY 7, 2013

I’ve been traveling back and forth to Austintown visiting some family that came in to town this past week, so I had to do a couple long runs on a bike path near my parent’s house. Man, do I wish this thing was around when I was growing up!  It’s 20-some miles of paved bike path, through some really great scenery, most of which is shaded by tall trees and forest. It’s quite lovely and peaceful.

I loved the path and to my surprise, there were really a lot of people on it!  I did a 7-miler at 8am on a Saturday and I probably passed about 30-35 people over the course of my run. Three and a half miles out. Three and a half miles back in. Seven miles gives you plenty of time to start stereotyping your fellow bike path enthusiasts, so of course it didn’t take me long to start classifying some of the types of people I encountered:

1. RUNNERS

  • Hard Core Friendlies (HCF) – This was me. This runner waves to everyone that passes by, whether eye contact has been established or not. The HCF wears a Fuel Belt (which to me, means they are running at least 6+ miles) and will eventually look like they ran through a car wash. (Unfortunately that look only takes me until about mile 2.) The HCF will also say “good morning” (or whatever time-appropriate greeting is in order) as they run past. It will be stated loud and proud between miles 1-4’ish… a wee bit more winded and forced over miles 4’ish-7…. but the sincerity is always there.
  • Hard Core Unfriendlies (HCU) – I only saw one HCU on the path, but our turn around points had me passing by her twice, so I got a double dose of her ice. The HCU also wears a Fuel Belt, but she’s got zero time to lift her arm to wave. I like to think she’s in a state of total concentration and so zoned in and focused that she is physically unable to lift her hand to wave or mutter a hello. That is a better thought than the alternative, which is that she’s just a big meanie and has no respect for the runner’s code that encourages us to support one other.
  • Short Distance Friendlies (SDF) – Anyone not in a Fuel Belt. They’ll wave, smile and say hello. They know they’re going somewhere from 1-3 miles, so they’re happy. They’ll be done in, like, 30 minutes, so there is no time to get ugly or zoned in. They have a spring in their step and the sweat on their skin seems to glisten.
  • Newbies (N) – Sometimes they’re happy. Sometimes they look like they’re about to croak. But the Newbie will always return a wave. I think they need the support more than anyone else on the pavement, so I’ve even been known to kick it up a notch from “hello” and throw out an encouraging “looking good” or the like in their direction.

2. WALKERS

  • Over-Friendly-And-Maybe-A-Bit-Lonely-Old-Guy (OFAMABLOG) – He’s super sweet and gives you a nice big wave and smile and when you smile back, you feel like you’ve actually brightened his day. There is also a bike version of the OFAMABLOG. As you pass walker or biker OFAMABLOG, you think to yourself, “I hope everyone is returning his kindness.” But then you remember there’s an HCU on the course and that won’t be the case.
  • Power Walkers (PW) – The PW is incredibly busy pumping their arms and there is no way in hell they are about to break stride to say hello, let alone wave it. You can see a PW coming from a mile away. They tend to send chills down the spines of everyone on the path. Even the HCU.
  • Teenagers Looking To Score (TLTS) – You can see the looks of disappointment on a TLTS’s face as they realize the bike path through nature isn’t as remote and deserted as they had hoped it was.

 3. CYCLISTS

  • Spandex Helmeteers (SH) – These guys are no freaking joke. They are in helmets and are wearing neck-to-mid-thigh spandex and they will run your sweaty ass over if you don’t get out of their way. (Sidenote: I always think to myself as an SH passes me by, “He has to go twice as far as me, but in less than half the time as me and we both kill the same number of calories. Why is my ass not on a bike right now?!”) The SH never… I mean NEVER… acknowledges other people on the path. But maybe it’s for the best that they keep both hands on the wheel.
  • Sunday Cyclist (SC) – Much like the “Sunday Driver”, they’re just out on the path because it’s a nice day and it’s a fun thing to do. 99% of the time they are with a friend or their significant other and 99% of the time they will wave or say hello. They’re really quite lovely people, although even the SC should be wearing a helmet, and 99% of the time, they are not.

I also came across my fair share of bunnies on the path.  Bunnies who think it’s fun to stay in your way until you’re only a couple steps from them. By that point, you’re in a mild panic because you are unsure which way they will dart off. I know they will always choose to dart in the direction closest to the woods, but it never fails to scare the pants off of me when they finally do.

Of course all of these classifications are made up in my head. I’ve developed life scenarios, estimated paces and guessed distances for people I don’t know, have never seen and will never see again. I’ll do just about anything to keep my mind off of the task at hand. And it must have worked, since both my 6-miler and 7-miler on that path went pretty darn well!

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