There are about three things that make my mornings fully worth it. Post-roller coffee made in my French press, a hardboiled free-range egg from M1's parents' chickens [they are adorable], and Older-Cyclist-Dude-with-the-Amazing-Jackets. The last even waves.
I think we first saw each other earlier this year when it was still frigid out. On Beacon Street right as it bends around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, he'll be heading downtown as I'm rolling the other way. Both of us in leggings, he always in clipless shoes, me alternating between sneakers and Sidis, we were the select few braving the cold. He waved; not the usual subtle nod or the fingers raised in acknowledgment with a thumb still looped around the bars, but almost as if he were signaling to turn. Hand fully off the bars and fingers outstretched like a small salute. I raised my fingers in response.
We've continued this interaction for a few months now, whenever we see each other. I'm pretty sure he rides through the winter. I'm pretty sure we would be awesome friends.
Okay, I'm probably making that claim because the wave [and, consequently, acknowledgment] - from a clearly[-more]-seasoned[-than-I] cyclist - is really just a form of flattery. It could be explained by your siiiiick bike, or your ability to exude some sort of pro-pheromones [pro-mones? pro-romones?], but the bottom line is that you're getting noticed by someone else. And when that someone else clearly knows his own shit, you get to feel a little more legit.
Especially considering the frugality with which cyclists dispense waves. Not everyone will wave or wave back...which could result in that awkward, extremely uncomfortable feeling where you try to say hello to someone and they blow past you to exchange greetings with someone clearly more socially important. And even if those hints of acknowledgment are based on snap judgments on what you're wearing and how well you can hold a line, [roadies will ignore anything without a helmet on it, while clipless shoes seem to be a good sign that you're not just dicking around on your bike] it still feels pretty good when you get it. Plus, it saves you the trouble of trying to play off that rejected wave as if you were trying to...um...wipe the sweat from your forehead...or something...
But it's funny, because while in actuality it's harder to break into the roadie world, it's the fixsters that will resolutely refuse to nod, wave, or in any other way recognize that another human is on a bicycle. Well, I take that back; unless your bike is a candy-coated, anodized wonder, then they will refuse to acknowledge you, especially if you are sporting a cassette. But somehow, even when I'm struggling and going at the incredible pace of 10mph, experienced roadies will sometimes acknowledge me. And it wasn't until a few nights ago, sipping coffee with a trusted confidante and discussing friendships formed over long hours in the library, that I realized why. Like the 12 hour days good friends and I have spent in the library on weekends, or the weird antics we got into when working on legal memos until 3 in the morning, doing longer road rides can bind strangers together through the experience of common misery. There's an underlying love involved - what else can motivate us to get out of bed at 6am on a Sunday to get a good ride in before noon? - but it's the recognition of suffered pain on a bicycle that seems to dictate whether you get the nod, or not. Pretty bikes will get you looks, but unless you're really riding that thing, it won't get you nods.
There's always an exception, though, isn't there? On a rare occasion when I trotted out the track bike, pretty in pink and fixster-ed out, a familiar cyclist passed by me on his instantly-recognizable celeste green 80s Bianchi. He looked at me quizzically, eyes directed more at the bike than to the person riding it. I raised my hand and waved as he slowly realized that it was the same girl who rides the beat up Bianchi San Jose. He smiled.
Maybe he was just being polite. But I like to think that he knows that I know how to suffer.