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  • The Wave


    reprinted from BB.com , October 2003
    copyright owned by author



    The Wave

    Welcome once again to this month's edition of Customarily Minded. Autumn is in the air and that means things are cooling down a bit. Which means a lot of motorcyclists are either coming out of the wood work or getting their final rides of the year in before old man winter comes a sneezin'. For October I'd like to revive an old custom among motorcyclists: the Wave. No, this isn't concerning stadium or sport events, this is something that motorcyclists have been doing long before today's athletes signed their first contracts. Many articles have been written on this topic over the years, allow me to contribute yet one more to add to the masses. Without further adieu, let's fasten a DOT approved helmet and hit the road with gloved hands and look into "the Wave".

    First off, why do we wave? The way I see it we do it out of camaraderie. When we brought home that first two wheeled contraption we automatically and unknowingly joined a loose alliance of like minded individuals that share the same basic passions, although many have different ideals and opinions we all ultimately hit the road looking for adventure on two wheels. The International Brotherhood of Motorcyclists if you would. Call us a cult, call us a gathering, call us anything but late for dinner. Nay the camaraderie is undeniably there, despite the differing opinions as to which make or model or style is best.

    From my experience here in the southwest, I get a pretty good return wave rate. I haven't encountered the certain type that doesn't wave back on the open road heading out of town very often, but as I get into the populated areas this does tend to change. Still it hasn't become a brand or style related issue. I have noticed one thing though, while I do get a decent return rate, if I "experiment" by not initiating a wave it becomes more of a rarity of having someone wave at me so that I may return it. I would surmise that for the most part we're still a friendly bunch, just not open enough to initiate the gesture.

    Sadly, the wave seems to be a dying art form despite my best attempts at garnering some return rates. I would attribute this to the current "I/Me/My generation". Motorcycling is a more popular endeavor than ever, and it has now reached into the realm of not just the "common folk" but the well to do class too. The ones that stepped on others on their way to the top and have long since forgotten what it was like on the bottom. Most of these folks go out and purchase the biggest/fastest/most expensive model they can, spend a few more thousands on fashionably equipped gear, and perhaps actually ride the bike out of the neighborhood once a month and have the gall to call themselves bikers. Or maybe they're not really well to do, but work several full time jobs in an attempt to pass off that lavish lifestyle so that they can afford all their toys despite never having the time to enjoy them. Every neighborhood has one, you hear the motor everyday revving on the next street over, and occasionally hear it racing up and down said street, but after 9 months you have yet to actually see it on the road. Maybe they're slow learners. Regardless of my theories of the overworked and snobbish, these folks are obviously too hung up on themselves to raise a hand off the grip and return a friendly greeting when they do hit the road. Either that or they're just not experienced enough of a rider to try riding single handedly (meaning they couldn't swallow their pride and start off on an appropriate bike that they would no doubt grow bored of quickly). All I can do is hope that they get some miles and experience behind them and that someday they'll just get it.

    Perhaps another aspect would be the larger audience of new riders out there, perhaps naive to the "secret handshake" of biker dom. I have read many a message from new riders about how someone waved to them, and they either didn't know about the old tradition or they were simply stoked about being "included" amongst the ranks of bikers. Either way, it's not a fluke happen-chance thing, put enough miles on the bike and you'll start meeting all sorts of interesting folks and future friends, and it all starts with a simple wave. Personally I try to extend the gesture whenever possible. Now I won't say that you definitely need to focus all your attention to this, especially if you happen to be negotiating the brake and clutch levers in a curve or stopping maneuver, but when I'm out cruising at a steady pace I will extend that left arm out toward any motorcyclist, whether he/she is coming from the other direction or passing me on my end of the road. It's practically become second nature to me, heck sometimes I find myself driving the car with the windows rolled down (in a vain attempt at cycle dom...) and extending a hand out the window to oncoming motorcyclists.

    As to the non-wavers, I don't let that get to me. Maybe they didn't see me, maybe they were busy with the controls. Maybe they were just lost or daydreaming, or perhaps they just didn't care. So why should I...the point is I'll just keep on waving. The thing is I just get a kick out of it. Especially when the car behind me pulls alongside at the next light and the driver asks me "Do you really know all those guys?"

    So for all the Beginning Biking brethren out there, don't let this form of art slip away. It isn't dead yet, and there's no reason why it should be dying. As the next generation of bikers, we owe it to ourselves to keep this sacred tradition alive. Let's start making the old wave into the latest rave!


    Wave and rave at Shadow Shack by emailing him through his profile

    "Customarily Minded Machine of the Month"



    This time around the featured Customarily Minded Machine of the Month is a custom beginner bike. This stunning example features some fine retro styling from yesteryear that dates back to the magnificent motorcycles from the 1940's. This 250 Virago has received all the detailing from that era, including a hardtail rear end courtesy of solid struts that replaced the OEM rear shocks, a sprung solo saddle, a wide low handlebar, two into one fishtail pipe, and flowing valanced fenders complete with a tombstone tail light in back. Only the "Virago-pods" belay the bike's true nature...
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