Bus drivers have been managing it for years. They see another bus driver going the opposite way and they offer up a little wave of acknowledgement. It's a custom so well established, that if they didn’t do it you’d wonder what beef the two drivers have with each other.
There are other notable waves of recognition too. I’ve seen it between owners of the same model of car. This is actually quite smug and cretinous, apart from when the car is shit, like when I wave to fellow, purple, Nissan Micra drivers. In this case I’m spreading the feeling of shame, similar to how a snow shoe spreads your weight to stop you sinking.
Until yesterday, I was of the belief that a wave between cyclists was one of the last bits of fabric holding our society together, and probably the only thing still keeping the Nazis at bay. Apparently it’s now gone the same way as gentlemen always wearing hats, coppers cuffing reprobates around the earhole, and being able to leave your doors unlocked. In other words, society has passed the point of no return and it’ll soon be too dangerous to even leave your house. Store tinned food. Arm yourself. Winter is coming.
I must have passed 40 riders on my ride. I offered up 40 variations on a wave. Some were wild, exaggerated swings of my arm. Others, more discreet lifts of a few fingers from my bar. All were offerings of kinship and recognition. Most were completely ignored.
The situation was at its worst during my ascent of Long Hill. There was a sportive coming the opposite way, and so there was a constant stream of riders coming past. Without exception, the first 10 riders all refused to wave back. Most of them didn’t even make eye contact. At least two of them made certain not to make eye contact by turning their heads the other way. Is it too dangerous a descent to release even one gripped finger from the bar tape in acknowledgement of a fellow rider? Particularly one who is going up the hill that you’re coming down? Certainly not if you can afford to look away from the road in order to avoid the light reflected from another’s eye to directly enter your own.
Maybe the lads at the front, and they were all lads, were simply too in the zone to wave back. They’re on for a top ten finish in this sportive after all. Even then I still don’t buy it. For one they’re are no British Cycling points on offer for sportives, and some of those they are beating are riding bikes that couldn’t be less set up for racing if they had baskets on the front with a baguette poking out. If you are intent on ‘winning’ a sportive then that’s similar to dominating the dojo at an under 12’s karate class. It’s time you found a higher level of competition.
Finally, towards the rear end of the oncoming sportive, waves started to be reciprocated more frequently. Enough that I felt a pang of guilt for shouting ‘bellend’ at the tenth consecutive rider to blank me. In my defence, it was my birthday and I’m already spending it on a solo ride around the Peak District. I most people would expect to be surrounded by loved ones and cake. A wave didn’t seem too much to wish for.
There is some hope left in this world, if we’re to survive as a species then we’re going to have to nurture it. So go out for a ride and wave to your fellow rider. Wave hard and true, or else the next time you see them you might be beating them to death in order to steal their fire making equipment. We can still save society.