Wednesday, May 27, 2009

day seventeen: in the mean time

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.


  1. I think it's certainly necessary here to point out my personal "OSHW" choice...

    When it's just a rider (any rider) in general that I'm passing, I usually go with the low palm down wave...but this gets pretty tiring in parts of the country where we pass a lot of bikers. You see, when you take your hand off of the handlebar, the wind snatches it backwards (hence the low wave to minimize air resistance). Therefore, lately I've adopted the more-lazy one "one finger trucker wave." Haha it gets the job done.

    But, when I'm passing a fellow BMW (I know, it's bigoted and snooty) I use a special salute-like gesture that I reserve for just such an occasion. It's more or less my creative signature in the book of biker waves. I simply point to my left eye brow with my left hand, and then point at the approaching rider as if to say, "I see you, and I approve of your choice of bike my friend!" Haha, it's a real pleasure to send one of these...

    Mc Mc, I'm looking forward to getting to see ya out here tomorrow evening!!

    All for now, M

  2. Bob--thanks for poppin' in! Great to hear from ya. You better be shredding that water on the System 8 every chance ya get!! Any progress on barefooting?


  3. I'm glad you guys get to rest for a few days.We did some shreddin' on the system 8, however it was a little rough for the barefootin'. Sat pm the boat lost the fuel pump so it was done for the weekend.Will try again later. You boys take care. Bob Cooke.

  4. where in the world are you guys? It's Sunday and we haven't heard from you since Wednesday!
    Glad you have gotten some rest...