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Welcome to the brotherhood


The first couple of times I was the recipient of the secret motorcycle wave, I didn't know exactly what elite company I had joined.But a quick search through the magnificent Interwebs quickly clued me in.If my 'Net research is to be believed, motorcyclists frequently acknowledge each other with a secret left-hand signal: Basically a small wave or peace sign with the hand barely off the 'bars.And, I've come to learn, it's not universal. While one Harley rider might be awfully likely to give another Hog lover the down-low gesture, a fancy-pants rocket-bike rider is all but sure to be snubbed by Freddy on his Fatboy.Thus, it came as a bit of a surprise to me the first couple of times a biker thus acknowledged me, a lowly cyclist. The fact we both can fall over at traffic signals is about all I on my bike have in common with a biker on his.Though I know a few biker/cyclists, I also know a few bikers who wouldn't be caught dead on a pedal-pusher, and I know cyclists who'd never be seen on a two-wheeler with an engine between their legs. And then there's the terminology thing. I've met more than a few cyclists who bristle when referred to as bikers, and I wouldn't be surprised if bikers felt the same way about the reverse. (Although as an aside, why is it that riders of road bikes are cyclists, while fat-tired riders are mountain bikers?) Whatever the reason, I've seen the secret wave enough in the past couple of years - usually when I'm outside the city limits approaching an oncoming biker with nobody else around - to know it's not a hallucination.The first few times I headed out in the know about this bit of clandestine biker bonding, I vowed to reply in kind, a cool motorcycle wave right back at ya, man. Except it didn't happen. I went months without a welcoming biker hello, and by the time I was flashed another, I was so taken by surprise I could muster little more than a feeble full-on howdy-neighbor wave, more Pee-Wee Herman than Dennis Hopper.Oh, well. I guess deep down I didn't really deserve membership in such a cool fraternity, after all.In a sense, I guess, we're all members of the same tribe facing oppression by the four-wheeled Man. I and my two-wheeled brothers are fighting the good fight against the cagers.But I don't really see it that way. It's not Us vs. Them. Though I'd plaster my bike with "Cars R Coffins" stickers if I didn't think some driver would take it the wrong way and try to put me in my own pine box, I don't harbor any ill-will toward drivers in general. I'm not especially fond of the ones who endanger me, but that's true whether I'm on my bike or my sofa.Then again, despite all my close calls with four-and-more-wheeled vehicles, I can't think of a single instance in which a motorcyclist cut me off or threw something at me or tried to put me in a mailbox. Maybe the fact any two-wheeler would bear the brunt of the damage in a wreck with a cage means we do look out for each other a bit, even if we don't necessarily frequent the same bars.So the next time I'm out there and a biker acknowledges me as a brother, I'll do my best to signal back in such a way that neither one of us is embarrassed by the other.


Joel 9 years, 6 months ago

I don't know, Drew. I've always thought of you as a cross between Pee Wee Herman and Dennis Hopper.You're welcome.

BrianR 9 years, 5 months ago

If one removes their right hand from the bars, they release the throttle so it has to be the left hand wave. I've never had a cyclist wave to me when I'm riding but I would wave back.

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