When I started biking a few years ago, I was apparently part of a huge surge of new bikers just coming on the scene. The biking landscape at the time had been sculpted by those who had been riding before us.
I can only imagine what it was like then. While bikers weren’t unheard of, there were not as many bikers in those days. The biking community was more exclusive simply because there weren’t as many people riding. That climate seems to have brought motorcyclists together in their shared enthusiasm. Bikers waved at each other, and the old-timers reminisce about a time when no biker would just drive on past a stranded fellow rider.
I came to motorcycling on the crest of a great wave of new riders. That flood of people with new ideas and expectations must have had an effect on the image held of, and by bikers. Many of the forums I go to have threads about waving. Some are fanatics about it and take it personally when another biker doesn’t wave back. Others are less emotional, but still note a change in this time honored tradition.
Ten years ago you could ride all day and, unless your were at some biking activity or event, you might not see another bike. Today if you’re on a scenic ride on a weekend, you’re going to see a hundred or more bikes. If you try to wave at every bike you meet, you’ll spend as much time with you hand in the air as on the bars.
One long time rider I know told me about taking a weekend ride over a scenic road. On one stretch, as they were rounding a mountain curve, his group of 20 to 30 bikes met another group of 20 to 30 bikes. He described up to 60 bikes roaring past each other on a narrow pass at closing speeds approaching 100 mph, and nobody with both hands on the bars.
“Some of them folks weren’t too steady steering with both hands,” he told me. “I don’t mind that they don’t wave if they just won’t run into me.”
It’s inevitable that the culture will be changed by the weight of people it has attracted. Maybe we can keep the best of it though.
— Guy Wheatley