It was a fairly intoxicating day on the motorcycle last September 25. I participated in my first Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, joining 300 riders parade-style up San Francisco’s Embarcadero, through the Financial District and Golden Gate Park before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge into Mill Valley. The crowds were thick, jovial and waving vigorously at us like we were celebrities. It was a great day to be a rider, and my left arm still hurts a little from returning the favor. Ours was just one of 500 cities participating, with 56,000 riders representing 90 countries. There was some mighty fine solidarity that day.
Official 2016 Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Global Wrap Up Video!
Admittedly, I take advantage of the ideal Bay Area Mediterranean climate and endless roads to ride more than 20,000 miles a year. Raising money for men’s health issues also raises awareness of riders all around the world. I also take being a motorcyclists serious, maintaining my health, bikes, and gear. I’m proud of my motorcyclist persona, and am one of several thousand in the Bay Area.
And I crave the wave when riding.
Motorists don’t wave at each other unless they both happen to be driving a 1962 Morgan Plus 4. Soccer moms are too distracted racing their kids from one activity to the other. But motorcyclists belong to a strong fraternity that warrants a subtle gesture of “I know what it takes to ride these roads, and I applaud your effort, friend.”
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During my recent cross-country trip to Wisconsin and back, I kept a mental log of the type of rider who waves back, and it was unanimous: Harley riders are either indifferent to The Wave or they don’t want to let go of the bars of a bike that weighs nearly half a ton.
In my backyard, it’s rare to be denied a wave-back, even on twisty roads like Page Mill Road, Highway 9 or Skyline Boulevard. Younger riders, with more skill and flexibility, often do the wave-back while knee-dragging through hairpins.
So what’s your opinion of The Wave? Does your left hand twitch ever so slightly when a rider approaches, swinging down to make a makeshift peace sign? Or do you stoically let the other rider hang as she rides by, her hand drooping with disappointment for lack of jovial reciprocity?
Here’s something to make you feel guilty if you fall into the second camp:
Boulanger plotted and schemed to buy a sidecar motorcycle a couple years ago to take his 12-year-old beagle Gromit on journeys around town, but couldn’t find the space or the money. Follow him (and make sure to wave back!) at @garyjboulanger.