This evening was the first Run Far Time Trial of the year in Austin. It’s run every other Tuesday from now through September. I didn’t ride it tonight, because I’m pointing toward this weekend’s MS 150, but I did head out there for my usual Tuesday evening Veloway ride.
I won’t go into details about the time trial itself, because I’ve written about it once or twice in the past. For me, being there held the prospect of putting some faces with the names of people I see all the time on social networking sites.
I like social media. Besides this blog, I use Twitter every day. I have two accounts — one is work-related and the other is dedicated to bicycling (my most recent Tweets appear in the right column here). I’m also on Facebook. It doesn’t eat up as much of my time as you might think.
This afternoon, the Tweets started appearing about the time trial. My friend @weiland said he would be there, and @T_Starry replied that he would, too. Then @cyberjunkie21 said he’d join the group. I replied that I’d meet them there as well. We all posted what kind of jerseys we would wear.
I got to the Veloway, where riders check in for the time trial, a little early, and decided to take a lap. Most of the time trial riders had the same idea.
When I got out to the parking lot, I saw @T_Starry right away. His coach from Austin Cycle Camp was explaining how to attach the timing chip. I first met Tim Starry through his blog, An Old Guy On Two Wheels, then met in person back in January at an MS150-Tour de Cure training ride. We follow each other on Twitter, and read and comment on each other’s blogs, but I hadn’t seen him since then.
While we were talking, an attractive woman pulled up on her bike and greeted Tim. She introduced herself as Patti Hill. I stuck out my hand and introduced myself with my real name. Her reply was polite, but lukewarm.
“I’m Bike Noob,” I said.
“Oh, Bike Noob! Hi!” @pattidhill answered with a smile.
Another rider stuck out his hand. “I’m cyberjunkie,” he said.
“Cyberjunkie! That’s terrific!” I exclaimed.
A man standing by laughed. “You guys are a lot more friendly when you use your phony names instead of your real names,” he said.
Maybe. It’s our common ground — a starting point. We joked about our Twitter pictures, talked about rides we’d been on recently. But it was time for them to head out on the time trial course. I resumed my easy laps of the Veloway.
When I finished, I found @T_Starry and @weiland back from their time trial runs. They exchanged stories about how it went. The southeast wind was tough tonight, and smacked riders in the face during a nice downhill when they’re supposed to be making good time. Tonight, it was a struggle.
They’re all great folks, and without social media, I doubt we’d have ever met, even if our paths crossed at various cycling events. Now that I’ve met their real selves, instead of merely their virtual selves, the connection is that much more meaningful.