Yesterday as I was riding to work I was making pretty decent time when I heard “on your left”, which is what courteous bicyclists say when they are passing you. I get passed pretty often.
“Good morning,” the guy said as he breezed on past. “Mornin’!” I wheezed back to the receding member of the Spandex Crowd. Just ahead was another cyclist, one I was actually overtaking, and the man who had just passed me did not wish that dude a good morning. Another data point in my current study of human nature.
You see, when I ride for an hour in the morning and again in the evening, it gives me plenty of time to ponder the loosely-knit fellowship called ‘cyclists’. Under that umbrella there are several varieties of cyclist, including but by no means limited to Asian grandfathers riding purple little girls’ bicycles complete with white wicker baskets (that is a very small group), heavily-laden commuters (I’m in that group), hispanic men on fat-tired cruisers, and at the top of the heap, there is the Spandex Crowd.
Soon after I started my bike commuting regimen, the local Bike to Work Day went off, and I saw cyclists of every description. I watched cyclists interact with each other (myself included – I am inscrutable even to myself), and I observed a few patterns.
For instance, there’s The Nod. It’s a little upward head movement passed between cyclists who make eye contact. I didn’t get nods from the Spandex Crowd. Not because they’re snobs, not at all, but because they’re riding. Their heads are down and they’re locked to their pedals and they’re not at some high-school mixer where you say hi to every stranger who comes close. Heck, the design of the bicycles they ride makes socializing more awkward.
There was one group, however, a subclass of commuter, with whom I exchanged many nods. I have dubbed them Bearded Overweight Men on Bikes, or BOMB. In the days following Bike to Work Day, the BOMB population slowly dwindled, until I rarely see another BOMB anymore. For a while I was a BOMB, now I might be the BOMB.
So how did it come to pass that a member of the Spandex Crowd wished me a good morning? I think it’s because he honestly wanted me to have a good morning. I think he also remembered passing me a few days before, and a few days before that. I think he said ‘good morning’ but also said, ‘Welcome to the brotherhood, Bearded Overweight Man on a Bike. I hope to pass you many more times in the future.”
I’m looking forward to it as well.