As I mentioned yesterday, Mike and I have taken a brief hiatus from daily travel. Sitting still has given me a little time to contemplate some of the finer points of biker etiquette. For instance, I have noticed that each rider seems to have a particular form of greeting, a sort of biker wave. As riders pass in opposite directions it is altogether right and appropriate to give some fleeting sign of friendliness, a “you’re accepted into the fraternity” kind of gesture. Some choose not to participate in this particular form of felicita-tion. Their reasons are many. Some are grumpy. Some do not approve of your bike choice. Some simply don’t care. Those choosing to participate have numerous ways of showing it. There is the barely lifted finger point. I call this one the pickup truck steering wheel point. It is not actually a wave since the hand, at no time, leaves the handgrip. As such, this gesture fits in the category of brief signs of acknowledgement (BSOA’s). While these are often gratifying to receive, they do not rise to the level of an officially sanctioned hand wave (OSHW). OSHW’s come in an incredible number of varieties. In fact, these are only limited by the communicant’s creativeness. Here is a brief cataloging of a few I’ve witnessed on this trip. There’s the one finger point. The hand is lifted from the grip and pointed vaguely in your direction but not directly at you. To this may be added a small chopping motion making it a one-fingered chopping point. You may also receive a two-fingered plain or chopping point or the old sixties-esque peace sign. The WWII generation will recognize this one as the old V for victory sign. They are actually very similar when viewed as both cyclists pass at 60-70 mph. You see how creativity enters into every situation. Often, you can see signs of incredible spontaneity as a biker hits a pothole or slick area and instantly transforms a well-planned signal into one of amazing creativity. My personal favorite this trip has been the one from a Harley rider who held his hand out palm down and made a squeezing motion as each successive biker passed him by, almost like a real person to person handshake.
One other quick point and we’re done. Michael pointed out today an important distinction. Under no circumstances does a motorcycle rider extend any of these ritualized forms of greeting to a moped. That would just be wrong. I’m sorry.
As you can see, it is possible that I’ve had a little too much time for contemplation as we spend a few days resting. I’ll try and tone it down! See you soon.