That got me thinking I could do it. Get out and do it.
So I did. As I rode, other characters became a part of this journey.
Truth be told, I have never seen him with a cigar. I only saw a still lit cigar once in the gutter, and then saw him. I assumed they belonged together. Every morning he leaves from his house to go on a walk (perhaps to smoke a cigar?). Every time he sees me, he always smiles and nods. I nod back.
Min Pin woman.
She has never acknowledged me. To be sure, she sees me and we make solid eye contact, but never a nod or a word. She walks her Min Pin with purpose and doesn't let anything distract her. Not even me saying good morning.
Mini Dachshund woman (sorry folks... if they're walking a dog, that will be their identity... it's how I operate.)
The Dachshund has a variety of sweaters and always seems cheerful. The woman always says some variant of good morning to me.
He is an elderly gentleman who walks with a cane. I can't say he uses it much. Except perhaps to wave at me. The first few times it was just the wave of the cane. Now we're up to a wave of the cane with a smile, sometimes punctuated with a gravely "morning".
His Rottie is old as dirt and sweet as pie, extra long tail stump always wagging. At first, the man gave me a smile, but we're up to a good morning too.
Labrador Retriever couple.
A gentle yellow lab out for a slow morning stroll. The couple often holds hands and the woman occasionally walks her alone. Every ride, we share a good morning.
Black Lab Walking Man and his Wife Who Watches.
It took me several days to figure this one out. I would see the man walking a black lab who was really walking the man. I would then see her in the driveway watching the man walk the lab. It wasn't until one day that my ride was timed just right to see him returning to the house with the dog. Then I rode back past their house and passed the two of them walking together, sans lab. Whatever works I guess!
Old Husky Woman.
Meaning the dog is an old Husky - the woman is neither! I don't see her regularly - it will depend on the time of my ride. She is often engrossed in her cell phone, rarely, if ever, looking up. She is the one I didn't think even noticed my existence. Until one day she looked up at me and said "You're doing great!" as I passed by.
Regular Walking Couple.
I see them most every early morning ride. He walks in the street and she on the sidewalk. He has always been forward with good mornings, and she with a smile. This is the only set of characters where conversation has evolved, albeit stunted and not terribly deep. They have asked where 'my other half' is when she hasn't been able to ride. Over the course of several passes - because our routes in this neighborhood will often take me past them two to three times - I was able to share that she was out of town on work. Or the next time that she had injured her back.
Here's a funny. It took me until just after Thanksgiving on a late morning ride to discover that Old Husky Woman is the wife in Regular Walking Couple. I rode past their house with the two of them outside. The three of them rather, as the dog was in the front yard as well. Funny how context is so necessary for recognition sometimes.
All of these people have a purpose for being out there. And out there regularly. To me, it feels like we're in the same club. A ginormous fitness club encompassing 8.5 miles. Some do it so their dog gets out. Some do it so they can keep moving. Others do it for whatever reason that gets them out of bed and on to the street. But we're all out doing it. Whatever their reason, I take their nods, smiles, good mornings as encouragement to keep on riding and to do it again the next time. I know motivation has got to come from within, and it does, but encouragement helps stoke that motivation.
The Asian man that started it all? That pushed me out on the bike to try to change my life? That I saw nearly every morning that I drove to work, steadily jogging down the sidewalk in loafers and khakis?
I have never seen him again. Makes me wonder if he was all in my head.
73 rides (plus 9 or so days on an indoor trainer...I really hate the cold!)