What is it with us roadies? Why aren’t we a bit more cheerful when we pass each other? What’s with the po-faced reluctance to acknowledge fellow cyclists who have the temerity to smile, nod, wave or otherwise express solidarity?
Time and again I’ve nodded and smiled at oncoming cyclists only to be rudely blanked, leaving me bemused, mildly irritated and, yes, even a little hurt.
When I used to spend my Sundays picking my way carefully along the South Downs Way on my MTB (always carefully – I never was much of an off road hero) I’d always smile or wave at passing cyclists and I’d almost invariably get a friendly greeting in return.
Often there’d be a few words exchanged too, particularly if the encounter took place a long way away from anyone else – the more deserted the meeting point, the more effusive the greeting. And I suppose that makes sense – if you’re trekking across deserted wasteland you’re clearly more likely to chat to someone whose path you cross than if you meet on Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon.
Maybe that’s why road cyclists generally keep themselves to themselves – because roads are generally busier than rural trails. Maybe that means the sense of freedom experienced by a roadie is more meditative than a mountain biker’s. Maybe roadies look inside their own heads for contentment on a ride while the mountain biker’s joy is more rooted in their surroundings.
I quite like that theory actually. But even if that explains it, I still feel irritated when a smile and nod at a passing cyclist is greeted with yet another expressionless glance.
But that’s nothing compared to the way I feel when I grow tired of the surliness and decide not to acknowledge the next cyclist I see – only for them to smile and nod at the last possible second before disappearing from view! Not content with making me feel unloved, now you’re trying to make me feel guilty too! It’s enough to turn a chap paranoid.
Or maybe we’re all doing the same thing. Perhaps the surly looks I get have all been prompted by unreturned earlier smiles. And every time I fail to smile I’m just perpetuating the problem for the cyclist behind me!
My head hurts.
None of this has anything to do with TRAT of course. On that subject, I’m looking forward to meeting up with my fellow racers against time for the first time on 13 February, when we’ll be riding together, and doubtless surreptitiously assessing each other’s fitness on a 70-mile training ride around Guildford.
Postscript: I went for a fantastic (if rather icy) 60-miler this morning and was warmly greeted by every single cyclist I passed. I honestly don't think this has ever happened before.
So much for that theory then…