My former boss had an expression he liked to use: “Be a sponge, Jeff. Be a sponge.”
Typically he would utter these words in one of two situations: (1) when he was trying to teach me something new, or (2) when he had just spilled some coffee.
To this day, whenever I find myself trying to learn something new – or whenever I see a latte puddle – I hearken back to his advice and become a sponge. Since this whole concept of “training for a 300 mile bike ride” is completely foreign to me, I’ve found myself acting quite spongy lately. When I go on each of my training rides, I try to learn from the other riders. I observe their attire. I note their gestures. I guess you could say I soak it all in.
And – in no particular order – here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- It’s perfectly normal for a woman to ride her bike while wearing a silk negligee tucked into a jean skirt.
- When you’re riding behind a man who appears to be in his late 70’s, and you inform said man that you’re “on the left,” you’re actually encouraging him to veer off to the left while staring off into the horizon in search of the rare hummingbird you apparently spotted “on the left.”
- If you have really bad B.O. and tend to breathe in a manner similar to Darth Vader, your best way to endear yourself to other riders is by pulling up right alongside them and pedaling at the exact same speed.
- If you can’t track town a clean pair of shorts and a t-shirt – but you still have your Halloween costume from ’93 when you dressed up as Richard Simmons – by all means, you’re good to go.
- If you’re a child riding with your parent on one of those dual bikes and you get a bit tired, you should feel free to lay your head down on your handlebars and drag your feet on the road while your mom shouts out encouraging words like, “Bethany, do you want any d@mn ice cream or not?”
These are my key learnings so far. While I clearly feel like my sponge is full, I’m not sure if I’m any better off?