20 July 2014

A Slice of Runner-Cyclist Harmony on the W&OD Today

I'm fortunate to live right by the W&OD trail, but I avoid it in the summer, at least after 6 am or so.  Too much traffic.  As an early morning runner-cyclist, I find there to be less traffic on the roads, and I feel more visible, and -- oddly enough -- safer.  Yes, I'm lit up like a Christmas tree.

But this morning I started my run about 5:15, and I put in the first couple of miles heading out west on the trail, through Falls Church and to the hill by Shrevewood Elementary.  Usually there aren't cyclists at that hour, but today there were a few.

I'm used to the silent "whoosh" coming up from behind.  And then I will usually say "Good morning!" to their rear-ends.  I like to think I've shamed them, but I doubt I have.  And then I try to stifle my bad thoughts about them, because I too am a cyclist, and I always warn runners/walkers (and cyclists) that I overtake.  Okay, I don't always warn people wearing ear buds because I figure they're deliberately drowning noisemakers such as me.  But I don't wear ear buds, so I expect a warning upon being overtaken.

Anyway, today in that two-mile stretch, I was passed from behind four times by individual cyclists.  Each time I got a polite "ding" or an "on your left."

I always say "Thank you.  Good morning!" to cyclists that pass me.  Good behavior should be reinforced.  And it costs me nothing.  Makes me feel good.

Today, the last one passing me wished me a good run.  No joke.

At that point I knew it was too good to be true, so I picked up the pace and finished up that portion of my run on the trail before some Tour de France wannabe spoiled it all.

It is remarkable, though, the difference that courteous behavior makes on rail-trails.  Sometimes I'll have a great ride or run and have to finish the last mile or so on the W&OD, and I can have my mood spoiled by someone with poor etiquette right near the end.  I shouldn't let that get to me, I know, but that's how I'm wired.

Included for your enjoyment below is the obligatory stock photo of runner-cyclist conflict.

The man is actually saying, "How did WE become the poster children for bad behavior?"
(Credit:  runwashington.com) 
It's a beautiful day.  Hope you're able to exercise outside.