The Wave

When the call came into the shop from Boulder, we all crowded around the phone trying to hear every scrap uttered. Alan, a friend from my collegiate cycling team, had just moved to Boulder, then the great cycling Mecca in the U.S. The one story I remember from the call was how one day, out for a training ride, he waved at a rider headed in the other direction and the unthinkable—to us, anyway—happened. 

The other rider didn’t wave back. 

Alan told us how he turned around, chased the guy down and asked, “What gives?” Such was our belief in the etiquette of waving back that we’d take action. 

In the ensuing years I continued to make a point of waving to other riders, though my record wasn’t spotless. I eventually realized that if I was depressed, stressed or angry, I wasn’t going to wave, sometimes not even to friends. 

In one of my many minor epiphanies, I began to appreciate that the effort to wave, aside from being nothing on a caloric basis, did me good. Waving made me feel good about me. Initially, I wasn’t sure why, but then I came to realize that the more positive energy I sent into the world, the more positive energy I carried with me; the reverse was just as true. 

When I see another cyclist on the road, I can’t help but see them as kindred spirits. No matter what sort of bike they ride, I need see no more than someone weave a bit, to engage gravity, to know we share the love of the joy that comes from a bike.

I’m someone who may be friendly with a man, but less receptive to mankind. I must look for ways to connect with others, to lessen the isolation and separation from others. It’s easiest with someone on a bike; whether they respond or not, the wave is an effort to connect. When I wave, I’m reminding myself I’m not alone. When I wave, I do so not for their reaction, but my own. 

Images: Jorge “Koky” Flores, JustPedal

Join the conversation
  1. TominAlbany says

    I love this one! I’m an unapologetic waver and I try not to be miffed when the other rider(s) does not respond in kind. I also realize, sometimes, that I was so into what I was doing that I really didn’t even notice someone on the other side of the road. Generally, though, I’ll wave to anyone on two wheels!

  2. Skinny Ankles says

    I wave no matter what. It feels good to be friendly even if the gesture isn’t always returned.

  3. Skinny Ankles says

    PS – WordPress is being weird. My handle is DaveinME, but I show as Skinny Ankles which was an early nickname I had. I tweaked the WP account but it still shows as Skinny Ankles, so I guess that is who I’ll be on here going forward!

    1. Padraig says

      I was able to go in and tweak your User ID to get you back to DaveinME.

  4. DaveinME says

    Thanks Padraig!

    1. bluezurich says

      That Dave, he needs a lot of handholding.

  5. Rick says

    Thanks for championing this noble cause, Padraig.

    I remember Maynard Herson complaining about the decline in waving (and other civilized behavior) in _Winning_ magazine, and that was in the early 1980s. Reagan was President then, not that I’m trying to link the two events.

    Apparently things have not improved.

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