Cycling, unlike most athletic efforts, is a very solitary practice. Living in cycling-rich northern California, though, should create more of a unified, group-hug environment, right?
Well, that's what I thought originally after moving to Mountain View in 2006. Back in southwest Ohio, a cyclist was hard pressed to see other cyclists on the road. We were a few-and-far-between bunch, and if it wasn't for friends like Alan Bindemann, riding in Springboro, Ohio would've really been monotonous.
Here, the rider-choked roads of Foothill Expressway, Page Mill Road, Skyline Boulevard and Old La Honda are rife with opportunities to connect with kindred spirits seven days a week. But sadly, many cyclists choose to ride with their heads down, either cross-eyed from the speed pain or eyeballing their cyclo computers for speed, heart rate or power readings.
Indeed, my cycling neighbourhood is literally home to many of the world's greatest racing cyclists, but the weekend warriors outnumber them a hundred to one.
My solution? The Wave.
I've been a practitioner and evangelist of The Wave for years now. It's simple, really: when one is riding on the road or trail, and another cyclist is coming toward you, simply raise your eyes, lift your left hand, spread your fingers like a Geisha's fan, then smile like Tom Boonen winning a Spring Classic, and wave.
Voila, a connection made and a favourable impression sent. This simple nonverbal act conveys the message "Hey, man, have fun on your ride. Isn't it great to be a cyclist today?" Such a simple act goes a long way to encourage others, despite the machismo image the bicycle industry is desperately trying to overcome these days.
The Wave is especially effective when used on a particularly steep climb. Waving to a fellow cyclist as they're enjoying a killer descent and you're climbing an 18-percent grade not only brightens their day, it may also impress them with your cardio-vascular ability. And remember to smile; if it works for Chris Horner, it can work for all of us.
Who will you wave at today?