Wilmington traffic can be heavy in places, often with no reason at all. If there is a reason, it’s usually just because of a fender bender where the participants decided it was better to block traffic than move to the side of the road. Wilmington is also one of those towns that does not have a great pattern of roads. There is no easy way to get from one place to another. Even leaving our neighborhood can be tricky.
However on Saturday there was a reason for the slow and stopped traffic. There were 1800 people participating in the Beach 2 Battleship Triathlon which necessitated the blocking of one lane of a busy thoroughfare and also stopping traffic on occasion to let cyclists cross the road safely. Now, I have no problem with this and wouldn’t have a problem if I was one of the drivers either, however it seems there are some that don’t share my feelings.
By the time I got to mile 18 of my cycling adventure, traffic was at a standstill and I was riding by all the stopped cars. The first “boo” I heard out a car window just confused me. I wasn’t sure I heard it correctly, so I shrugged and just moved on. The next comment was “Hurry up, we are all waiting on you!” Even though I knew it wasn’t true, it gave me pause. As I mentioned in my race report, I was struggling with a bent derailer which was not allowing me to shift gears at all. The negativity just added to my frustration and discouragement. It certainly did not increase my pedal speed. There were 5-6 more negative comments, and surprisingly only 2 positive cheers out of car windows as I cycled on. The whole experience left me wanting to just give up.
Let me pause for a minute and say that I am not petite. (You might have already gathered that from the Fat to Triathlete name of my blog) I am an overweight triathlete. On this particular day, I was at the back of the pack. There were no other cyclists to be seen, and I was being followed by a van with a big sign on the side that said “Last Cyclist”. So, I’m sure these motorists thought that as soon as I went past, the roads would miraculously clear and they would be free to go. (Not true since they weren’t technically waiting on me, but they didn’t know that.)
Thinking back on it later, it really made me mad. I wish I had been able to stop my bike at the people who yelled and asked if they wanted to trade places. At least I was out there, and not sitting in my car. My next thought was shock. Why would you put someone down like that? It’s crazy to me.
I remembered those feelings later on that day as we were driving away from downtown. We were stopped by a police officer so some race participants could run across the street. You better believe I rolled down my window, shook my cowbell like crazy and cheered! I hope they heard me and it brightened their spirits some. I hope I can continue to remember and encourage others no matter what their journey may be.
This small instance is not indicative of my experiences the rest of the day. I heard a huge amount of positive and encouraging comments along my journey, and every one of them lifted my spirits and my pace. The encouragement far outweighed those few miles of negative jerks.
I was downtown a few weeks ago and saw a great church marquis. It simply said “Avoid Negative People”. What a great idea! The cow in the picture is Mr Beau Vine, a ”Stress Ball” that Gayle carries with her to record her travels. You can follow their travels here.
The whole experience got me thinking, I wish I could have avoided those negative people on Saturday. I wish I could avoid negative people everyday. However, as a large woman participating in a sport dominated by skinny people, it seems to follow me. I just need to remember (as do all of us that are not the “ideal size”) that I am not doing this for other people. I don’t run and ride my bike for those guys stopped in traffic. I do it for me. It makes me happy, it’s making me healthier and thinner (I hope). So, while I can’t avoid the negative, I can choose to not let it bother me. It certainly won’t cause me to quit! I am a fat triathlete. I’m having a lot of fun! and I’m still tri’ng