A wave by any other name

8 07 2010

Summer. Finally.

And that means our first evening trail ride in which all of us wore shorts, no tights, no knee warmers, no sleeves!

It's finally summer; our first all-shorts ride!

Perhaps glad to finally have a nice warm ride, all three of us were full of beans as we clipped through the woods at UBC at a furious pace. Great fun!

As always, our route bisects a couple of roads favored by the roadies. That always hangs me on the horns of a dilemma.

When I’m on the mountain bike and see the roadies, I feel like I want to be with them, I want to be on my road bike. Or at least wave, to acknowledge my kinship with them.

But I know the latter wouldn’t be couth.

That’s because the culture of the “cyclist’s wave” seems to have some very strict rules that aren’t really written down anywhere, yet somehow seem to be absorbed.

On the open road, roadies will often give a little wave, or tip of the hand, or nod, when they encounter other roadies heading the opposite way. It’s our way of acknowledging our shared passion.

A suitably subtle roadie wave.

Were that it was so simple.

Because there’s a whole subset of rules to that rule:

• The roadie wave only happens on two-lane roads. Anything wider might generate a nod across traffic, but usually little more than a glance, mostly to check out if the oncoming rider is worthy of being considered a fellow roadie.

• The roadie wave is more likely to happen out in the country than in the city.

• In the city, the roadie wave only seems to happen on unlikely roadie routes. When riding through areas that are popular with roadies, other roadies are to be ignored, or even eyed with disdain; “how dare they share my road! I thought I was the only one who knew about this route!”

• Roadies only wave to other roadies who are properly attired; that means kitted out in roadie attire and clipped into their pedals. Anything less is to be approached with suspicion and skepticism. Katie is convinced she never gets the roadie wave when she’s riding because she doesn’t have the shoes, just rides in her sneakers of flat pedals.

• Roadies do NOT wave at: mountain bikers, shuttlers, bike commuters, or any bike with a pannier or basket, cruisers, foldies, recumbents, tricycles, unicyclists, bmxers , rusty steel frames (although retrogrouches riding vintage steel in good condition should be respected) or people walking their afghan hounds.

• A roadie may wave at a triathlete out for a ride, but it won’t be acknowledged and you’ll immediately regret it.

• Roadies absolutely must NOT, under any circumstances, ever acknowledge the right to exist of fixies, although secretly we wish we could have been them before riding a fixie became trendy and de rigeur  amongst the hipster crowd.

• A proper roadie wave must be subtle, bare discernible even, a slight lift of the hand from the brake hoods, a couple of raised fingers, a slight nod of the head. Anything more is considered a rookie mistake, and nobody wants to feel like a newbie.

Speaking of newbies; here's Dan's little guy, Thomas Shay, showing off how he just learned to ride a two-wheeler!

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3 responses

8 07 2010
Katie

Proof that you all are in fact a peloton of snobs!!! I distinctly remember riding in both the country AND the city with you ahead and the roadies giving you the wave, and getting all excited thinking oh, oh I’m next, but then nothing, not a wave, not a smile, not a glance, NOTHING! It’s not because of the shoes, it’s because you’re all a bunch of snobs!!! Just saying … and watch out, dear husband, the next time we go out, I’m so giving the full on wave … and hope not to fall off the Zing while doing so 😉

14 07 2010
Gone with the wave «

[…] to Mario cyclists have a code (check out his blog on it here) and I have been trying to crack that code from day one. My first bike was a Dahon fold-up bike […]

17 07 2010
robert Freeman

Mario, I am now the proud owner of a mountain bike, a Cannondale F7, with disc brakes, and front shock absorbers that turn on and off, although I don’t have a clue what benefit this is to me 🙂 I went for my first long bike ride the other day – a half-hour jaunt down to the Vedder River Bridge – and it just about killed me. I met another cyclist on the way (he was riding in the bike lane, AGAINST the traffic, while I was riding WITH the traffic) and he looked fully “kitted out,” like you say, but he said hello to me, even though I was riding a lowly mountain bike, and my tongue was no doubt flapping down around the pedals 🙂 I wheezed hello back at him, but it was a barely audible greeting, I’m sure, all available oxygen being sucked up by my lungs. Only fear of mortal embarrassment kept me pedalling until I could collapse in the privacy of my back yard. But I got a bang out of the experience, and plan to keep doing it until I can make the trip without feeling like I’ve done some serious damage to my tubby little body 🙂 Oh, and I guess I’ll be a cycling slut because I’ll wave at anybody – if I’m able to pry my hand off the handlebars!! 🙂

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