Sunday, July 6, 2008

My friend Corey's comments about waving...

Corey lives in San Antonio. We met years ago when we lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. Both of us ride bicycles and motorcycles. Here's what he had to say about waving among both subcultures:

I notice that when I'm on my bicycle and wave at motorcycles (which I do routinely), I get more waves back than when I'm on my motorcycle and wave to bicycles (which I also do routinely).

I think it's because there is a stronger fraternity of motorcyclists than bicyclists. Riding motorcycles is a lifestyle whereas riding bicycles, for most people, is a pastime/hobby. Most bicyclists don't get "Colnago" tattoos and go to big rallies. Occasional centuries, yes; rallies, no.

There is more of an "us vs. them" mentality amongst motorcyclists. Most bicyclists (unless they also ride motorcycles) don't know the term "cager" and, for them, the fact that they are on two wheels does not mean that much (since they probably parked their SUV at the ride start and they will soon be back in their own cage).

Before cycling got popular, there was more waving going on. I think, back in the day, folks would get into cycling through clubs and cycling friends who would show them the ropes (and teach them about waving). Now, folks read about bikes in magazines, go buy a new bike and start riding on their own, not knowing that they're picking up bad habits.

I'm not sure that there's much that can be done about it. The nature of the sport may have changed, for better or worse, irreversibly. Maybe some of those who choose cycling will stick with it and join a club and become part of the tradition. Let's hope so.

Best, Corey


Khal said...

I'm not sure that Robert Pirsig used the term "cager" in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but he certainly hit the same target in his description of people cooped up driving in cars as he rode with his son on that trip, which I think was on a Honda 305 SuperHawk.

Not sure that I'd want to make a generalization about motorcyclists or bicyclists these days, but the point that many bicycles can be found on top of SUVs rings true.

I think that more motorcyclists wave to me when I am riding my bike than other bicyclists. But there are those who enjoy the zen of bicycling just as there are those who enjoy the zen of the motorized variety. They wave.

Nick said...

Not a universally applicable idea, I think, cyclists waving to each other. If we waved to each other where I live (The Netherlands) we'd never have our hands on the bars, the injury rate would be horrendous and the hospitals would be inundated. But I guess it's OK in a country where there's only one cyclist per hundred square miles or so.

Maynard said...

It's an old-school thing, Nick, that graying cyclists resist losing. There were never many utility cyclists here, so most of the riders you encountered were sporting riders, racers or century riders. You knew, as someone said, "everyone with black shorts in your town."

I'm sure this waving is a silly fixation, Nick, but I remember a era that was more inclusive. As do many of my blog readers. The rest of cycling America wonder what all the fuss is about. Hey, what's for dinner...?

Nick said...

Actually I'm an old school thing myself Maynard. I remember that when I was a motorcycle owner in Britain (I'm a Brit living now in Holland) waves were exchanged between passing practioners of the art - and I liked that a lot; it made me feel good. I was only being mildly facetious in my previous comment (and actually "serious" cyclists where I live still do acknowledge each other - and without falling off too!).

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that in Central Texas at least, bikers are returning my waves more often these days. Perhaps because of all the stories we hear about car-bike crashes, bikers have adopted a sense of community?

Mike said...

If anyone waves at me I just wave back. Even if its the old one fingered wave, I still wave back. Waht pepople cant see is that as I ride along on my motorcycle, I am grinning from ear to ear anyway, I'm so happy to be out!

Mike at Motorcycle
Parts, Accessories and More!

Maynard said...

Hi Mike!
Thanks for writing. I'd been totally unaware of your site until today. You wait: see if I don't buy something!

Take good care, Maynard

Chris said...

I find that here, in the great white north (it's only white for 6 months, I assure you - we do ride for part of the year) motorcyclists don't wave as much now as they did three years ago, when I last rode regularly (before moving overseas for some adventure.) Since returning, I've noticed an influx of sport bikes, tearing down our main drag at 100km. I see less older, Japanese bikes - perhaps this is a symptom of the generation of youth now buying bikes - they are all new and fast. I suppose this fits with the culture of youth today -- new is better - throw it away - buy something bigger - faster - stronger. It's kind of sad. However, I can't say I experience this lack of waving much - I sold the ole 77 KZ650 in favour of a TREK SU200 - using less fossil based energy and more plant based...