The question has been raised several times about riding etiquette and more specifically who do you say ‘hi’ to when you are out on your road bike. As you pass a fellow lycra-lover going the opposite direction should you nod, shout ‘hi’, wave or ignore them? Does the same apply when you pass a large group or club – do you just acknowledge the first rider, or offer a single generic greeting to all the riders or is it polite to show solidarity with every rider and risk falling off as you nod vigourously? And what about mud-huggers and hybrid-riders?
The following gives you the absolutely definitive guide to surviving the courtesy conundrum:
(A) single lycra-lover – we cyclists are a social and well-meaning bunch, so it is right and honourable to acknowledge the existence of a fellow road warrior and, in truth, a brief and discrete ‘hi’, a small wave or a nod are all perfect but make sure that you time your gesture correctly or the opposite rider may miss your greeting and take umbridge!
(B) team of lycra-lovers – though they are intimidating with their team slipstreams and kit that matches the colour of their bikes, clubs are generally made up of well-meaning individuals so are appropriate to greet. However, there are many pitfalls here – too long or too short a greeting will indicate that you are intimidated. And if you greet each individual you run the very high risk of looking like a nodding dog and falling off – once again indicating an intimidated persona. Whereas, one small gesture aimed towards the front of the group indicates to them that you are not actually intimidated, which may mean that you don’t get a response, but you can justifiably claim the moral high ground and continue happily and righteously on your way.
(C) Mud-huggers – be careful, there is a strong risk that they may offer a greeting to you, often driven by a sense of aspiration. Do not be tricked into offering any sort of acknowledgement in case any of your fellow road riders see you do it, word will get around very quickly, that you are a ‘sympathizer’.
Instead, the normal approach is to look straight at the dirt-demons with a look that encompasses an air of superiority, a look of disdain and a smirk of humour at their impetuous foolishness – this look may take some practice to master! Just remember, many of them can’t help doing what they do – their parents probably bought them mountain bikes (and why are they called ‘mountain’ bikes, when they are mainly used to cycle down the gravel track by the railway line on the way to the park!) because they couldn’t afford the slick carbon fibre of a speed sentinel!!
(D) Finally there is the thorny topic of whether to and how to greet a Hybrid rider. Let’s ignore the obvious ‘they-are-not-sure-which-way-to-go’ references and instead look at their shorts.
If they are trying to look cool wearing a pair of ‘Baggies’ then you can tell immediately that they live at home and are riding their dads bike, or worse that they have left their mountain bike at home because it is sunny so there is no mud to play in – refer to answer (C) above.
If they are wearing lycra, then they are probably migrating from the ‘dark side’ and aspiring to become all that they can be, and like Luke Skywalker with Darth Vader, you should always have hope that they will turn out okay in the end, so revert to answer (A).
So, there you have it, cast iron clarity on your confusion – safe and happy riding!!