The Wave

I’m not writing about the 1981 After School Special (high-5 to GenX’ers who get the reference), I’m writing about motorcycle stuff. The Wave. Ever find yourself driving behind a motorcycle and notice them wave to a bike coming the opposite direction? Yep, that’s the one.

“So two bikers wave at each other. Big deal, they probably know each other from some… I dunno, motorcycle party or something. You guys do have motorcycle parties, right?”

That’s not at all what it is, and no, we don’t do pa… okay yes, there are motorcycle parties and they’re wicked awesome.

The Wave is a gesture shared between riders, it’s a way of recognizing like-minded spirits, and that we are all brothers and sisters riding through the same wind. Some do it with two fingers down slow and cool, others may simply lift their fingers from the left handgrip, while I personally prefer to put two fingers out sideways, like a crooked gesture of peace. We all have our own style of wave, as varied as our styles of bikes.

Does everybody wave? Not always. Some people are just over it, or were never into it from the start. Other riders who will only wave to riders of bikes most like their own, Harley riders to other Harley riders, sport riders to other sport riders – and most of us find that to be about as petty as you probably do right now, but everyone has their reasons so we try not to judge or take it personally. Also, scooterists don’t usually wave. They are not generally part of cycle culture, having bought the scooter for sake of convenience, so they don’t know the secret handshake… unless they are also a motorcyclist.

It’s a topic of conversation.

I’ve been at this awhile but I still wave to other riders, it’s a nice gesture of camaraderie. We live in a culture that stresses the individual over the group, so it’s comforting to have a stranger be a friend out in the world, connected only by our love of motorcycles.

What starts with a simple wave on the open road continues into further semblance of a shared brother/sisterhood. If a rider is broken down on the side of the road or struggling to push their bike into the back of their truck, other cyclists will stop and offer help. If you’re filling up the tank when other bikes roll in to do the same, a conversation is probably going to happen. When I board a ferry to cross the lake and other bikes are on the same ferry, we’ll all eventually cluster together and talk about bikes, about the weather, the crappy roads, or a great place we should all stop for lunch once the ferry lands.

Other days, I’m just in my own head and while I’ll return your waves I won’t initiate. I’m getting in some road therapy, you know how that is. Still, the sentiment behind the wave is there: “Hi. I see you’re on a bike, so am I, aren’t bikes kickass? I gotta keep moving along, but enjoy your ride!”