In Defense of Niceness
Posted: Jun 27 2017
Spending too much time in LA traffic has an impact. We’ve likened it to one of those police training simulators where everything appears just fine and then bad guys pop out from nowhere. Eventually, you may find that you’re always on edge. Both hand on the wheel, eyes darting left and right, ready to take evasive action on a moment’s notice. It might makes you a more cautious driver, but it sure does put you on edge. The same applies on the bike as well. Angry drivers are the norm and danger seems to lurk behind every corner.
Pretty soon, it’s just a way of life and you don’t realize the impact it has on you. At least you don’t until you experience the polar opposite. Like we did when we went to Denver recently.
We had gone out to cheer for everyone racing the Coeur Sports, Tribellas Women’s Triathlon and got in early enough to have some fun. On Friday morning, we got up and headed over to the Single Track Factory to rent mountain bikes.
On the way over, we came to a four way stop in the car and arrived at almost the same time as another individual in a pickup truck. We had one of those moments of uncertainty as both drivers tried to figure out who had the right of way. While it wasn’t a big deal, we instinctively braced ourselves. In LA, you might expect the other person to aggressively defend their rights and charge into the intersection just to make a point. At a minimum you might get a “don’t mess with me” glare from the driver and on some occasions, it might be combined with some type of hand gesture.
So, we weren’t completely surprised when the driver of the truck stuck his hand out the window. What did catch us off guard was when he smiled and waved us through and appeared to mouth something to the effect of “after you”. What the heck? He let us go first and he waved with all his fingers!
The next clue that something was different was in the bike shop. While we love to mountain bike, we’re not experts by any stretch and our palms may start to sweat if we hear that the trail is single track with lots of rocks. So, we were further thrown off when the team in the shop welcomed us with open arms. They fitted us to our bikes, showed us how everything works (including a hydraulic seat that could be completely lowered mid-ride) answered our silly questions and gave us directions to a great set of trails. Now, having someone helpful in a bike shop shouldn’t be a cause for celebration, but believe us, it’s not always the norm.
The politeness continued once we hit the trails in a park area called “Lair O' the Bear”.
As we poked cautiously along on the trails, we were pleasantly surprised time and again as fellow bikers waved hello, called out “on your left” as they came up from behind, and even asked if everything was ok when we had to pull off to the side to take in scenery and catch our breath.
Maybe it’s a Denver thing, maybe it’s a mountain bike thing, or maybe it was just random, but the collection of waves, hellos, and smiles put us in an incredibly good mood. From our perspective, there was a very big impact from relatively small gestures. It was really surprising how a quick smile and a hello would leave us feeling good for quite a while afterwards.
While we hope that we’re always cordial, the collective niceness of everyone in Denver had a big impact. Even after we returned to LA, we found ourselves saying hello to strangers and waving (with all our fingers) to our fellow travelers on the road and the trails. Hopefully we'll make someone’s day a little brighter and they’ll pass along the good will to the next person they see.
So, our hope is that everyone reading this will give it a shot. The next time you’re on a ride, a run, or at a race, take a second to wave and maybe even say hello to someone. Trust us, you’ll likely put them in a better mood and they may pass it along!
Happy Training and Racing
Your friends at Coeur