Chatting and riding

This morning I rode my bike into work. It takes about an hour depending on how I’m feeling. I follow a paved trail here in town until just a few blocks from the office. At various points along the trail I can always count on there being more people — joggers, walkers and other cyclists. Since I don’t bike commute every day, I’m not familiar with specific people who may. And on the days that I do, I often leave at different times depending on my own mood and when the sun is set to rise.

I’ve never met up with anybody for any kind of chat on the trail. Other cyclists are either too slow for me or too fast. And I may only see a half dozen commuting any morning.

This morning was different. I got passed early on in my ride by a cyclist who was moving only slightly faster than me. I usually take it easier in the mornings than in the evenings — need to save something in the morning for the ride home! Anyway, I thought ok, let him go, whatever.

For the next half hour or so, I saw that he hadn’t created a huge gap. And after a few road crossings — where you often have to wait for traffic — I caught back up to him.

He made a comment about the traffic. I returned a comment about the traffic.

He asked me how far I was going. I did the same. And coming from.

Small bursts, keep on pedaling. It’s nice, though. Conversation makes the time go by faster. The nice thing about chatting on the bike is that the stress of stuttering is cancelled out by the enjoyment of the ride.

I got stuck when I was telling him about my coaching for my son’s soccer. He tried to finish a word for me. I took no offense. He was an older gentlemen. We talked a little about this and that, and soon it was time to head our separate ways.

I was genuinely anxious when I first realized I could start having a conversation with him on the bike. And it’s complicated — I’d have to speed up a lot to avoid the conversation. And stay away. And then when I did start chatting, I had to resist the temptation to speed up and end things.

But overall it was nice — nice to chat and make the ride go by a little faster. Nice to engage with a stranger. Nice to stutter out loud and not let it bother me too much. Nice to be on the bike where I’m forced to breathe before opening my mouth.

Stuttering Small Business

(The nice thing about close friends is that they remind you that you haven’t posted in a month … so no, I didn’t actually push publish on this post as I thought I had!)

I hope everybody had a lovely holiday. Filled with family time and stuttering. I did! But it wasn’t all that bad. I spent the holidays in Pennsylvania with family and friends. There’s a really nice bike shop there, and despite the cold weather, I brought my bike along for at least a ride or two. (I did two — and they were under an hour each. At least I got out!)

I learned that I’m not the biggest fan of cold weather riding. Temperatures below 50 confound me. You put too much on or not enough. Your top is too warm, and your legs are cold. You go faster which makes more wind and more cold. You go slow, and well, going slow sucks, too.

Back to the bike shop. Small business. Small business Saturday! (but this isn’t directly about that.) I knew that I wanted to ride, but I also knew I didn’t have a long-sleeved jersey or tights to wear. So off to this shop where I had bought kit before. I got the best, most patient help before, and I wanted it again.

I wasn’t disappointed.

The thing about stuttering is that while there’s a “base” of stuttering — just carrying on with our daily lives — there’s often outside influence that … doesn’t exactly help. Pushy sales people. Being unsure of yourself. Feeling rushed.

All this melted away in this store. I could remember to breathe. I could ask questions, and there was just minutes and minutes of patience. Answering questions, pulling things off the shelf and hangers. She wasn’t in a hurry to do something else, and I wanted to take my time and buy the right thing. I thought of questions — and then just asked them. When I was about to make a final decision on something, I said, “is this the only brand for that?” And it turned out no, there was something else, and I tried that on as well, ultimately buying it.

I know every shopping experience won’t be like this. In person or on the phone. But I did want to stop, breathe, and give thanks for this one exchange that made me think less about stuttering and more about getting exactly what I wanted — by communicating.

Walking and talking

The other day was my daughter’s birthday. In order to continue brainwashing her regarding her love for bicycles, I thought I ought to get her a little basket for her bike. That way she can tote around … stuff.

Anyway, there’s a larger bike store here in town, and when I searched them up online to find out their hours, I found out they had a store right in the city. Within walking distance of my office. (The main store is a longer drive away and near where we live. Well, sort of.)

On their site, they show products and what store they are available in. The cute little basket showed availability in both the farther away and city store. I had a sneaking suspicion though that I’d be disappointed — they probably didn’t have it downtown. So, I could have called them and asked them. But here’s the thing — I needed the exercise. The store is a little over a mile walk away.

Is this avoiding? I don’t think so. I was going to walk there even if they didn’t have it just to see what it was all about. And it was such a nice day anyway.

Am I adding this to my pile of uncalled people, restaurants and other businesses? No. Not at all. I’ll write about that more tomorrow — sucking it up and making a call without completely freaking out about it.

So in the end I did walk downtown to the bike shop for my daughter’s basket. And … they didn’t have it.

A Hundred Stuttering Posts!

So here we are at a hundred stuttering posts. Thanks of course to all the visitors from 66 different countries who have stopped by. I think things are still going pretty strong. It’s getting difficult to post every day (not through lack of ideas, mind you), but hey, a few times a week is still pretty decent, right?

I put this two-part story below together for Tom over at Stuttering Brain as a guest post, but he ended up being busy and didn’t put it online … so I’ll share it here instead. I think it sums up nicely where I am with my stuttering and being determined to push through it when I really want something.

Please keep on reading, commenting and sharing! I appreciate any and all feedback.

Cycling and Stuttering

I’m someone who stutters, and I’m someone who also likes to ride my road bicycle. But when I came to Saudi Arabia more than three years ago for work, I didn’t know anybody who also rode. And since I was a covert stutterer, I didn’t really ask around too much either. I would occasionally go on solo rides on the wide open roads we have in our small town, but I missed the camradarie of riding with even one other person.

One Friday morning just a few weeks ago I was coming back into the compound with my family. I saw something strange. Two guys. Road bikes. They were also heading back into the compound. Finally! Other people who rode! I was in our car, about 500 feet behind them as we went through the security checkpoints. My wife knew about my cycling angst and thought I should go up to them and find out who they were. Yes, I needed to find out.

Excuse time. Remember, I’m a covert stutterer. Pulling up to cyclists in a car would necessitate an immedate greeting and question. They probably wouldn’t stop. I’d be stuttering. It’d be horribly awkward. What to do? I was trying to figure it out as they pulled away — I had to stop for some checkpoints that they sailed through.

I was getting angry and frustrated with myself. Here it was, the perfect opportunity to go riding with some guys, and my stuttering was getting in the way. Unacceptable. We followed them into the compound, but they split up. After parking the car, I thought I saw one of them go into a nearby house, but wasn’t sure. Great. Thanks stuttering. Thanks a lot.

As we got out of the car, my wife said she thought she heard a door nearby close. Oh? I was angry enough at my stuttering that I said to her, ok, you take the kids and go to our house, and I’ll catch up. I went over to the door that she said was probably it.

I knocked. No response.

I knocked again. I had no plan on what to say. I just wanted to start doing something before my stutter protested.

No response. Oh, fine. Still angry at myself. I went back to my house and told my wife that nobody was there. She mentioned that she knew the security guards pretty well and that she could call them and find out. Really? Yes, can you please call them? I felt like a coward for not making the call myself, but I’d make up for it soon enough.

To be continued …

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