Editor’s note: The Twitterati are abuzz with references to various wave/not wave essays, which goes to show you that the times, they are not a-changin’, no matter what Mr. Dylan said. I wrote this piece for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News back in 1995.
I swear to Eddy Merckx, the next time I wave cheerily at a passing cyclist and he just gives me The Look, I’m gonna chase his arrogant ass down, knock him off his bike, drag him back to my house and chain him to a wind trainer in front of the television, where a steady diet of anaerobic-threshold intervals and “Full House” reruns — coupled with a chamois full of red ants and occasional encouragement from a Bull Buster cattle prod — should drive home the argument that courtesy is the grease which keeps society’s bottom bracket spinning freely.
What is with these guys? Unlike passing motorists, I generally wave with all five fingers on a given hand, and there are no pentagrams tattooed on my palms. Has the mousse that grips their so-carefully coiffed ’dos soaked through their scalps to enmire the already-sluggish machinations of their brains? Are their Oakleys so dark that they simply can’t see my friendly salutation? Have they heard the ugly rumors about me, their sisters and the Sonoran donkey?
Beats me. I have no answers. But, as you might expect, I have a few theories. And here they are:
• Me Cool, You Lame — You, the non-waver, may think that your bike and/or cycling attire is way neater than mine, and that to wave would be to compromise your coolness. But I’m a Media Dude, see, and that means my bike is so much cooler than anybody else’s that I have to let it get all grunged up and filthy-looking just to keep wanna-bes like Claudia Schiffer and Tom Hanks from trying to steal it. Should anyone make off with this bike, of course, I can track them by the hideous shrieking of its 4-year-old, unlubed Dura-Ace chain. But I won’t bother, because I’ve got three or four even cooler ones at home that I never, ever ride, and I didn’t pay a nickel for any of them. Hahahahah.
• I Have a Goatee and You Do Not. This is a corollary to Me Cool, You Lame. It’s also on a par with thinking a Murray preferable to a Merlin. I sport a full salt-and-pepper beard and a sizable bald spot because of a nagging case of testosterone poisoning picked up in Vietnam when I was teaching Chuck Norris all about karate. You, on the other hand, wear a straggly soup-strainer named for a smelly barnyard animal fond of eating garbage, and it doesn’t even cover your zits all that well. As my daddy was fond of saying, if you can’t grow more hair on your face than you can on your butt, you should shave.
• I’m Too Scared to Take One Hand Off the Bars. This is a theory with potential, since most velo-snobs seem to spend all their free time rifling Mom’s purse for the cash to buy purple chainrings and trying to trials-ride the tables at Espresso Yourself instead of practicing basic cycling skills, like waving to other cyclists, riding a straight line, and and blowing your nose without getting boogers all over your Banesto jersey.
• I’m Dumber Than a Food Stamp Office Full of Suntour Executives. Also a theory with potential, this assumes big lag time between the eyes registering an occurrence — a friendly wave, a big smile, the development of trouble-free indexed shifting — and the brain processing the information: “Duhhh … hand up; smile on face; duhhhh … he was WAVING, George! Yuh, yuh, that’s right … he was WAVING, George! Can I pet the rabbits now, George?” That’s a Steinbeck reference, dude. Jeez, four years in grammar school and four years of reform school, and you didn’t learn nothing in either place.
• Don’t Bother Me, I Am a Racer. “Look, Marlin, it’s a USCF licensee! And here we thought they were extinct! We’ve got to move quickly — I’ll get the tranquilizer rifle and the ear tags; you call the Smithsonian and National Geographic!”
• Exercise is Serious Business. Sure it is. So is getting chained to a wind trainer by an irate stranger with a sound-proofed basement, an ant farm and a cattle prod. Think about it … then wave.
Tags: Wave dynamics