People watching on the trail is perfect, especially when Kate's around. You get a good glimpse of someone, but since you're most likely traveling at different speeds or in different directions, it's just a quick glimpse. This is a really good thing for Kate, who likes to people watch as much as I do, but with her it usually turns into people staring. Like it's some kind of sociological study, but she doesn't realize that there isn't any of that two-way mirror glass between her and her subject. So the general movement of people on the trail means that you get a good enough look, but can't get caught staring. All of this time out on the trail has led me to classify all of my fellow trail people into one of the following six categories:
Creepy Guys - So I don't want to start out by scaring y'all. There aren't a whole lot of these. It's rare to see more than one on a given day. There's the guy who is always wearing jeans and a rugby shirt and carrying a baseball. Then there's the guy with the beard who talks to himself. I'd also put the people who have their own one of a kind workout equipment here. You know, people who are working out on something that looks like some kind of concept vehicle. I'm not sure if they bought it off of an infomercial or built it in their garage. Oh, and I'd probably put myself in this category as well. Not that I'm a dirt ball, but I certainly look the part. As mentioned earlier, I'm out there 4-5 times per day. It's pretty much the only time I leave the house, so in the morning, I'm usually rocking the plaid pajama pants, hoodie, white man afro, and quasi-beard. It's a good look.
The Moms - Usually in their 30s. Either pushing kids in a stroller or walking their dogs. They never travel alone. I've found that there are usually 3 of them in a group. They always manage to take up the ENTIRE width of the trail. They only do this between 10 AM - 2 PM. I think they consider this to be Mom time on the trail. If you're out exercising during these hours during the week, then you're on their turf. From what I can hear (I listen to their conversations while trying to get past their human wall) they spend most of their time talking about other women.
The Spandex Crew - These are people who are actually using the trail for actual exercise. They don't all wear spandex, but many of them do. I guess I could fit into this group for 20-25% of my trail time. They rarely talk to other trail people, and get pretty annoyed at most of the other groups for doing things like the mom wall described above.
The Rockwells - These are the perfect families. You see more of them on the weekends. I actually don't mind having the Rockwells out there, with their awesome jogging strollers or little pull behind the bike buggy thing that sort of looks like a tent. My only knock on the Rockwells is that little kids are really bad at riding their bikes in a straight line. Their mom and dad are usually up ahead with the little baby in the pull behind thing, but the 4 year old is swaying from side to side, running into a creepy guy here and a group of moms there. Oh, and the Rockwell parents (Mom and Dad Rockwell) always make the same light deflecting accessory decisions. If Mom Rockwell is wearing a baseball hat, then Dad Rockwell is too. Same thing goes with sunglasses.
Editor's Note - I think I'm going to start doing some charity work where I teach little kids how to bike in a straight line. They already know how to ride their bikes by the time they get to my clinic, but I want to get them to stop swaying back and forth like a drunk cyclist.
First Timers - It's probably not their first time ever on a bike path/greenway, but it's also not something that they do four times a day (or even four times a year). You can usually spot them based on their attire (running in Khakis, a bike with visible dust on it, rollerblades because they didn't realize there are gravel parts of the trail). They are also the most likely to do a walk/run. Mostly just walking, but then running when someone that they know or think they know is approaching. These are usually the best for people watching, and most likely to be by the side of the trail nursing some injury after you make the turnaround.
Old People - Old people on the trail are awesome. They usually aren't out there for any particular reason. They aren't trying to get from point A to point B. They just don't have anything else to do. Lots of them have binoculars and look at birds. They stop and talk to me and Gilbert when we approach. Sometimes they have dog treats in their pocket. Yes, you heard me correctly...they don't have a dog but carry dog treats in their pocket...how awesome is that? I guess that's sort of a life goal for me. Once I can walk down the trail with dog treats (and no dog) but be viewed as a harmless old person instead of a creepy guy, then I know I've made it. Old people on the trail always travel in groups of two or groups of 10+. Actually, I guess that could be said about old people in general. It seems like it's always a couple, or a massive tour group. Except for when you pass a Buick on the interstate. There are always two big white perms in the backseat. Nevermind. That theory about either 2 or 10+ isn't very good.
So those are the people that I spend all of my time with these days. Next time you're on a bike trail, you can try to put people into each of my categories as they walk by. Or, if I missed some, please let me know.