Monday’s mail bag: Wave dynamics, Republicans and April Fools fallout

In some places, it's all about the bike...Dear,Just to let you know, this happens all over (see ''Friday's foaming rant: Wave dynamics revisited"). I lived in Spain from 1981-1983. I rode a Schwinn LeTour, wore a t-shirt and shorts and topped it off with one of those old styrofoam helmets. When I went riding, I would wave at the Spaniards as they went by, but they never returned my waves. Then, I upgraded to a Zeus 2000 equipped ALAN bike, got bike shorts and some Mirko jerseys. Not only did they wave back, but I was invited to join the local bike club, the Club Ciclista

In some places, it’s all about the bike…
Just to let you know, this happens all over (see ”Friday’s foaming rant: Wave dynamics revisited“). I lived in Spain from 1981-1983. I rode a Schwinn LeTour, wore a t-shirt and shorts and topped it off with one of those old styrofoam helmets. When I went riding, I would wave at the Spaniards as they went by, but they never returned my waves. Then, I upgraded to a Zeus 2000 equipped ALAN bike, got bike shorts and some Mirko jerseys. Not only did they wave back, but I was invited to join the local bike club, the Club Ciclista Portuense in El Puerto de Santa Maria, near Cadiz)! So in many places and over the years, there is no explaining the behavior of cyclists toward other cyclists. I should add that the local folks were very nice to bike riders. When riding through small Spanish villages, the local kids would all run to the side of the road and cheer as I went by! Man was that cool. Anyway, I always wave and say “Howdy” to other cyclists and most (but not all) return the gesture.
Kim Viner
Commander U.S. navy (retired)
Laramie, Wyoming …and the research supports that conclusion
Hi Patrick,
Glad to see that I am not the only one annoyed at rude cyclists. While living in Boulder a few years ago this (fellow riders not acknowledging a greeting) bugged me so much that I did an informal study on it. Based on my suspicions (that the offending riders were insecure and/or felt above mountain bikers or those on lesser road bikers) I performed a two day experiment. On day one I dressed like a mountain biker (baggy shorts, t-shirt, camelback and visor on my helmet) and rode my 1982 Peugeot PX10 road bike out to Lyons and back. During the ride I waved to every cyclist on the way, from serious roadies to people on beach cruisers. I counted the number of riders I waved to, how many waved back and took notes on who (based on their bike, riding gear and/or if I recognized them) waved and who didn’t wave. The next day I repeated the experience but dressed more like a “serious roadie”, my brightest jersey, tight shorts, water bottles instead of my camelback and I took the visor off my helmet. The study produced some interesting results: On day one, 28 out of 72 riders waved back while 42 out of 66 riders waved back on day two. This I interpreted (very unscientifically) as a bias against casual riders and/or mountain bikers. Two groups of riders were pretty constant on both days, nearly all of the “casual riders” (people on cruisers, mountain bikes, commuter bikes, etc.) waved back as did all of the pro riders — Travis Brown, Chris Wherry, Frank McCormack, Mark McCormack, Tyler Hamilton, Henk Vogels and a few others whose names I can’t recall. The group that varied the most was “serious roadies” (riders on expensive bikes with pro team jerseys and a frown or serious look on their face). On day one only eight of the 47 riders in this “serious” roadie category waved, while on day two 21 of 43 “serious” cyclists waved back. Some of these serious roadies would not even respond to a polite “hi” when stopped next to them at a stop light. I guess the one thing this conclusively proves is that I had way too much time on my hands that summer. To the riders that didn’t waved or say hi, lighten up, live can’t be that bad.
Gene Hamilton
Fruita, Colorado No such thing as a serious cyclist
I read in a newspaper story that a certain Democratic politician had taken his road bicycle with him to Idaho and considered himself a “serious” cyclist. It reminded me of a time when a high school girl riding a heavy steel road bicycle that had been mass produced in some factory in China, looked at my shaved legs and said, “You must be a serious cyclist?” I explained that those who defined themselves as “serious cyclist” should actually be described as the part of the body Kurt Vonnegut noted looks like an asterisk. I rode for a few minutes with her. I made some suggestions on how she could improve as a cyclist and suggested she join the bicycling club or team at the college she planned to attend.
Ted Monoson
Washington, D.C. It’s all about choice
Hey O’Grady,
It’s funny that you complain of the arrogance of riders who don’t wave and yet you show the same contemptible attitude when you say that you need to be cured from being a Republican. Nice. I’ll bet you believe in moral equivalency, pet guardianship (instead of ownership), and that only Liberals really care about people. Give me a break and get over yourself in assuming that someone should have to wave to you, maybe their wife was just diagnosed with cancer and they tried to ride just to feel better but can barely keep it upright. Bottom line, it’s their choice not yours live your life and don’t force others to accommodate you.
Whit Smith
Denver, Colorado Courtesy, contempt and the mega-cool
Dear VeloNews,
I have been riding road bikes for over 30 years, and am well known to the riders in my area. Back in the ’80s when mountain bikes first appeared, I thought “what fun” and bought a Fuji Sundance. Out I went and encountered several of the guys who sort of knew me, though all of them were several years younger, raced as seniors and juniors while I was in the masters category. I was not wearing cycling garb, just shorts and a t-shirt. I offered my “hellos” several times with no response……they were just way too cool for me! For many years I lived on a golf course with a 4.1-mile loop road that was and is the place to cycle during weekday afternoons, some serious training rides occur there in which I participated when I was racing. I was always getting on the group’s case about be a little more courteous and considerate of the less serious riders, from folks that just enjoyed riding their cruisers to others that were just not participating in the training rides. The group would approach risers who were cornering without uttering a word of warning and would swoop parents and children out for a family ride with inches to spare. They didn’t give a sh*t and still don’t. Nowadays, they are the first to complain when there are attempts to ban cycling in that wonderful location.
Roger Bogda
Miami, Florida Fewer people means fewer jerks
The only cure, my friend, is to come out here to Idaho where there are so few cyclists that you can pretty well influence them to change (or ostracize them if need be). A “diplomatic” confrontation seems to work with many who are ignorant of the fact that a wave is almost always to indicate “Hi” not a challenge or who are spacey from too much fun either the day before or the last 20 years (or both, in some cases; no finger-pointing, please). Of course, there are still incorrigible jerks, just not as many.
Mike Ingram
Idaho Falls, Idaho There’s a word for guys like that
I couldn’t agree more with the subject of the latest Friday rant. My English friend commonly refers to riders like O’Grady described as “Waves-Are-Not-Kindly-Exchanged Riders” or, just by abbreviation, WANKERS.
John Berger
Golden, Colorado The guys on the recumbants are friendly enough
I hit the pavement of bicycle happy Victoria, BC Saturday morning for my first training ride of the season (well, fall’s a long ways away). Judging from the lack of eye contact, furtive “sizing up” glances and just plain cold glares, fewer people in Victoria read VeloNews or O’Grady’s column than I would have suspected. Or maybe they could care less? Perhaps O’Grady should give up as a journalist. He’s clearly unable to manipulate the fickle masses. Pedalers of hybrid bikes, wearing backpacks and sneakers, are pretty friendly though– particularly when they come to that necessary halt to negotiate the water bottle. I wonder what they read? Could it be a cultural difference? Hey, this is Canada. Most say “thank you” getting off crowded city buses, stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk and only occasionally engage in neck-breaking punches on the ice. With hockey season winding down, perhaps more skaters ARE on the road? But they, at least, would offer some amicable profanity while passing by. Additional research needs to be done of course. Are the rare friendly riders out on the road in fact just mountain bikers putting down some steady distance? What affect does the fear of disqualification for a THC positive test play in the cyclist’s surliness? And will the occasional take down by a mountain lion really improve the situation, as one L.A. reader observed?
Aaron Hechmer
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada Maybe it’s the shorts, man
My 43-year-old, balding, non-athletic looking neighbor was recently touring Colorado to entice graduate students to come study at the University of Wyoming. He took his Seven ‘cross bike along to check out local rides, when and where he could fit them in. Twice on this trip he was totally ignored by roadies when simply trying to inquire about local rides. Fortunately for them, he was able to impart some wisdom on them by pulling through and dropping them. He finally was lucky enough to spot a group of mountain bikers who were willing to talk for 10 minutes about good local road rides. I guess the Lycra’s gettin’ a little too tight, eh?
Kurt Tuggle
Laramie, Wyoming You make your own happiness, man
Dear VeloNews,
Interesting that someone would call others churlish for not waving, inferring that the writer’s happiness is dependent upon another’s actions. Me? I wave to some and not to others. My waving has nothing to do with the person or what type of bike they may be riding but rather where I am at while riding. Perhaps I have just finished an interval and I’m quietly swallowing a lung, effectively pre-occupied with myself. I could be absorbed in thought and not really noticing others around me. It makes no difference why I don’t wave, sometimes I just don’t and I don’t wish to be chastised by someone who is looking for self-affirmation by a wave from a stranger on a two-wheeled toy.

By the writers criteria, he should be waving and saying hello to each person he sees. This would be walking or driving or riding. On the streets or in the mall. I don’t see much room for the writer missing anyone. I would suggest that this writer avoid some neighborhoods as they may not see his penchant for a friendly wave as friendly.
Russ Hausman You can get fooled again
Dear You Guys,
I was really upset when I read the Lance duet story. I couldn’t believe it. What kind of Tour preparation is drinking beers and hanging out? I shook my head, as I told my wife. She actually suggested that I was trying to trick her, as I had earlier in the morning, when I convinced her that our Jack Russell terriors had opened a can of sardines in mustard sauce and eaten them. She printed the story out, also despondent over Lance’s laid back approach, to take to our neighbor’s place and show them at dinner. As she read the headline and date it dawned on me that it was a joke and I almost yelled out loud. “Damn! I was fooled straight-up!” You can imagine my real self-disappointment as I logged on to this afternoon only to learn that the Sunflower story and the Mavic story, too, were farces. I almost wept at my gullibility. If I missed any other jokes please don’t let me know. And for crying-out-loud please don’t publish this email.
Emils Schnore

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