Can I Nod Snob a Kid?

Can I Nod Snob a Kid?

by / / 85 posts

I am a nod snob.  The fact is, I’m a bit of a cycling snob all-around.  I am not a “biker” and I do not “like to bike”.  I am a cyclist and I like to ride.  What’s more, as I outlined before, there are very loosely defined parameters under which I will bestow a “nod” upon another rider.  For example, you have to look cool.  Like you care how you look.  This doesn’t mean you have to be riding a glitzy carbon ride or some nostalgic steel classic, but you have to demonstrate that you understand Cycling Couture, ambiguously defined as it may be.

For those riders who receive said nod, there are a few unwritten rules about reciprocation.  First, you have to decide whether to acknowledge the nod.  Second, you should never acknowledge the nod too enthusiastically; always keep your cool and never get too excited.

The “Nod Acknowledgment” is almost more complicated than the “Nod”.  First, you have to decide if you’re willing to accept the nod, ignore it, or reprimand them for even trying.  More often than not, you ignore.  But, if you acknowledge, Nod Snob terms dictate that you must never, under any circumstances show more enthusiasm than the original nod given.  Let me give you an example of a flubbed Nod Reciprocation.

Michelle and I were riding home from a long ride out at Cougar Mountain near Seattle.  It was a hot day, and we were tired after the more than 150km we’d logged already as we left Bellevue and headed back to Seattle.  A rider – worthy of a nod – came by in the opposite direction and gave me a quick nod.  A few moments later,  Michelle pulled up alongside me with a horrified look in her eyes.  “I saw him nod at you, and then he nodded at me.  I completely lost my nerve, and, *sigh*, took my hand off the bar, smiled broadly and waved.”

Classic example of reciprocating with more enthusiasm than the original nod.  Very uncool.

The other day, Michelle and I were coming home from our after-work spin, enjoying the hum of our wheels on the pavement and basking in the mellow satisfaction you find after a good ride.  Coming the other direction was a dad riding a mountain bike with his young son in-tow on a Trail-a-Bike.  The son seemed absolutely overjoyed at the scenario, and we could feel his delight before we could even see him.  There was a sense of triumph about him.  I’m not exactly sure why he felt so good about himself because he obviously didn’t meet any of the qualities of being a cyclist.  I mean, when was the last time you saw a pro on a Trail-a-Bike?  Besides, pro’s don’t wear jeans, and they don’t wear white helmets that look like hollowed-out bowling balls.

As we rolled into his view, he cheerily hollered, “HI BIKERS!”

My instinct was to correct him and say, “Bikers use motors, asshole.  We’re cyclists.”

Instead, Michelle and I replied in chorus, “Hi!”  I still feel a little guilty about that.

// Etiquette

  1. As to nod snobs I believe that the legitimacy of the nod snob and/or degree of allowable response bears a correlation of 1 to the busyness of the road, ie. you are out in the middle of nowhere – greet another rider like he/she is your long lost sibling.

    Ride along a place where there are a gazillion riders – nod snobs all round…

  2. @Buck Rogers

    @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Well we all know that a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat.

    Say no more…

  3. @Marcus
    Nothing to discuss. (1) For the “other” rider – if you’re invited, then join in, if not then don’t. (2) For the bunch – if you see someone regularly and they look like they can handle a bike, invite em in.

    My first bunch ride I had absolutely no idea of what to do. An old guy saw this. He calmly told me how it went then rode beside me and, when we were in the wind, explained about the pace we should be travelling, how to be careful not to half-wheel, how to drop back when I was done, and to make sure to introduce myself to all the other members of the bunch. Great advice, and I rode regularly with them for a year or so.

  4. MrLowell:

    Fucking hammer up to them and right as you’re about to pass them, shift into the big ring, pop onto the tops, make your arms stick straight like you’re rolling down the boulevard on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and pass them like you were just casually blasting up the hill like that. Keep it up until you’re around the next bend or turn-off and spend the next 3k gasping for breath.

    This is my preferred method just about every time I go around anyone. If I think I can get someone behind me and keep them there I go for it with gusto while exuding the impression of one who is Casually Deliberate, even if it is just pretend.
    On the other hand, there’s not a lot that I find to be more embarrassing than passing someone only to be passed back a short time later. If I think I’m simply a better climber than they are and feel that it is likely that I may be passed on the next extended flat or descent than I try to be polite and pass slowly and politely, but I always make a point to hide the hurt whatever the situation may be.

    I was feeling somewhat cocky on tonight’s ride and poped into a higher gear right after I passed some dude in FSA shorts and a Castelli top while going up a hill. He was having a hard time of it, too – probably means I’ll get a bee in the eye on my next ride for being deliberately mean. I traditionally don’t climb well for my weight so I usually don’t pull such stunts, but I’ve been feeling really good the past two weeks. Like I may peak sometime this year for once. Don’t know what I’m doing different from last year, but whatever it is seems to be working.

    Ride along a place where there are a gazillion riders – nod snobs all round…

    Indeed. If I’m passing several people every minute I’m not going to sit there nodding at everyone. I need to save my energy for those climbs, you see.

    Also, yeah – no jumping into pace lines with strangers unless you’ve asked – seems like common sense to me, as I’d rather not get taken out by some rando.

  5. @Steampunk

    And I’m still bummed about the kid getting nod snobbed.

    Since August 2009 I’ve wondered, but I have to ask…you know that’s a joke right? You know I didn’t nod snob the poor kid on the drag-a-bike, right? Just sayin. You know, for the record.

  6. @frank

    You never know what us jerky Americans will do. I think Canadians believe we all drive around and just shoot each other all day.

  7. @Marcus
    Really no discussion necessary. Ask nicely. If told no, it’s not personal. If invited in, be honest about your strength or weakness and communicate. If the pace is too high, thank them and let them know you’re going to drift to the back and don’t make a gap. If you feel good, don’t half-wheel and don’t pull through like Cavendish. But do take your turn. And if you don’t know how to rotate in an echelon, doing it at speed with a strange group is not the best time to start. Practice with more experienced mates first.

  8. @mcsqueak
    Um, in the PetroMetro, road rage and the brandishing of firearms is pretty normal. It really is a freak show down here.

  9. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Any truth to the rumor that carbon fiber gun racks are available at the finer LBGSs (local bike and gun shops)?

  10. No need for the rack unless you’re going out hunting. We roadies keep our carbon fiber Glocks in the same jersey pocket as our cell phones. Either way, we can reach out and touch someone.

  11. @xyxax
    Oops. Forgot to hit “reply”.

  12. @Jeff in Petro Metro
    you are particularly more funnier in the wee hours.

  13. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    @paolo @Nate @mcsqueak @pakrat
    I’m so damn friendly it’s ridiculous. I’m like Forrest Gump waving at Lieutenant Dan. I’ve met so many friends that way. “Hi!” “Hey, nice bike.” “Beautiful day.” “Sure is…”
    I’m such a dork.

    (Remember peeps, this is opinion sharing; not saying everyone should think like me!)

    You are not a dork! The planet could use more people like you. It would make for a MUCH more amusing planet. Also more pleasant. IMHO.

    Being so concerned with such a simple gesture & how it reflects on your “coolness” – seems a frivilous reason to to justify making the world even meaner than it is.

    I thought worrying about being “cool” & hanging out w/only the “cool” people because you’re worried uncool ppl’s uncoolness will rub off on you was something we left behind in… well, college, at the latest. The cool of the ultimate cool person isn’t affected by the cool/lack of cool of those around him/her.

    I’m not lumping ALL cycling etiquette, Rules, etc. under “cool” & throwing the baby out w/the bathwater, mind you. And what we’re talking about – a miniscule gesture in a split second in time – doesn’t fall under the “you are known by the company you keep” truism, let’s be serious.

    Sure, I can be a cycling snob, from a distance… or if it’s something someone’s doing that’s endangering people. But anybody who gets out on a bike, no matter how fred-ish – kudos to them!

    I think it’s more than obvious to anyone who knows anything that a “serious” athlete is exactly that by the way he/she looks/rides/behaves. Feeling one has to snub people in order to build oneself up/set oneself apart – bordering on very nasty. IMHO.

    I can’t say I ever thought much about this nod/wave thing. If someone coming towards me is obviously “out cycling,” even if they’re wearing a t-shirt & look dorky – & aren’t miles away across a 6 lane highway w/a gigantic median – they’ll get a relaxed, slight raise of a hand from the bar (that’s how we do it down heah in da south) – or depending on what house the moon is in, maybe the four finger lift pakrat described.

    …Unless I’m on a chunk blowing mission & am a bit occupied – even then, if I see them (which I think often I mayn’t; too focused & probably experiencing tunnel vision & spots in eyes), unless my nose is on my top tube & I’m close to reaching my goal, I’ll attempt a multiple finger lift, w/out really thinking about it.

    Or unless as mcsqueak said, there’re so many cyclists out’n’about it just gets ridiculous. This is pretty rare around my patch of the woods, tho – lotta cyclists, but lotta miles of road out there to spread ’em out on.

    And no matter who it is, if they acknowledge me first, they’ll get the wave (or fingers lift). It just has ever been thus. It’s how my momma brought me up. It’s civil. Civility and treating people like fellow humans is “cool,” in my book. It doesn’t make you less cool.

    And heavens, it never entered my mind to feel sorry for passing anybody (quite the opposite; can’t help it). I’m out doing my ride, they’re out doing theirs, so what. But it’s polite, and safe, first off, to let them know you’re coming up (“RIDER ON YOUR LEFT!”).

    And when *passing* someone, even if it’s Grandma on her cruiser, I always give the friendly low key hand/fingers wave.

    I figure, two miles down the road a rock truck might squash me. Grandma might be the one with the cell phone to call the EMT to come scrape me off the road.

    What goes around comes around.

    “and well you know that it’s a fool
    who plays it cool
    by making his world a little colder”

  14. @Marcus
    I would feel obligated to pull if I joined in with a group on the road. But it would be best to ask first, although I would not have thought of asking prior to seeing this discussion.

  15. @xyxax
    Sleep deprivation has that affect on me.

  16. @xyxax
    Edit: …has that EFFECT on me.
    Where’s my espresso?

  17. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    Um, in the PetroMetro, road rage and the brandishing of firearms is pretty normal. It really is a freak show down here.

    Ha, very true. Damnit, the Canadians are right about us!

  18. @Karolinka
    While I mostly agree with you, it’s a personal rule of mine to nod snob anyone who’s obviously out on a training ride with a $10,000 Di2, Zipp 808 equipped Cervelo, wearing a skinsuit and pointy helmet going 25K. And tri-geeks. Sorry.

  19. @scaler911

    I’ve seen plenty of folks going down the local MUT on their aerobars (ugh) but I have yet to see someone on the open road with a TT helmet.

  20. @mcsqueak
    Just two weeks ago it happened to me. Buddy of mine and myself were hammering out a local century, unauthorized (didn’t buy the t-shirt/ paper number thingy, just rode the same route as a couple thousand other registered riders), and rode past a paceline of them. Two or so of them jumped on our wheels, wouldn’t pull thru, so we dished out some V. Took about 4 min and one roller to slap ’em off. But really, a TT helmet and sew-ups for a fun ride? Sheesh.

  21. @scaler911
    So I can’t use my 303 tubs for the century this Saturday? I guess I’ll have to break out the Pearl Isumi shorts and Primal Wear Rooster jersey and install the European Man Satchel too, eh?

  22. @scaler911

    But it wasn’t a fun ride, it was *serious training*!

  23. @Cyclops
    Didn’t mean that really. But I’ll bet you’re not going to be down in your aerobars, sucking on a straw. Why do they need to put a cage up there anyway? Is it really that hard to reach down and grab a bottle from where it’s supposed to be, inside the triangle?

  24. @Cyclops
    I think what @scaler911 is getting at is that you’re a douche who bought a fancy brand with all top-end gear but don’t know how to ride, he’s snobbing you. If you’re a badass exuding class but rollin’ easy on your favorite bike, I suspect there is no issue.

  25. @frank

  26. @mcsqueak

    Come to Abu Dhabi… a frightening combination of middle age, trendy triathlons and huge disposable incomes.

    We regularly get people in aero helmets, even skin suits. The wannabe roadies are just as bad – hey I’m 20kg overweight but I can buy some carbon fibre and DA to make up for it. Nevermind that I can’t ride in a bloody rotation, and the moon on a stick would be more realistic than a f*cking echelon.

    I still say hello to them though – too small a place not too. I just have no compunction in dropping the f*ckers.

    Sorry for the rant, you’ve brought it all out ! That and several glasses of wine while finishing an assignment.

    As a general rule I say hello (i.e. a nod or finger lift) to anybody I see out in Abu Dhabi, but when in London I wouldn’t do it in a commuting situation but would when out on training rides and encountering someone clearly doing the same.

  27. @scaler911


    No worries. I was shooting for a humorous mental image of me in all my old “Anti-V” gear. The only non matching kit I would ever be seen in now is my Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here jersey. But even then I would be rocking the Assos bibs so I think it works.

  28. @ChrisO

    Yeah I peeped your rides on that evil, evil group we set up… fast and flat! Some of those sections look like they’ve been flattened by a team of engineers. There is one “pan-flat” section of road here, that’s actually used for a yearly TT race, but gosh it’s boring, and windy.

    Though in Abu Dhabi I guess you’ll take what you can get. Props for keeping up the cycling there. And as much as it pains me to say, I could see the appeal of TT gear for long, flat rides.

    I joined a local cycling club last year so I can get my group ride on when I feel in the mood. Not a whole lot of folks mismatched to their rides, but one guy did show up with a Renovo hardwood bike one weekend. I couldn’t decide if I was jealous or disgusted. He rode well though, so I guess that’s something.

  29. @scaler911

    What makes people like you join events without paying for the entry? It’s rude and weird and laying the smack down on people who have paid doesn’t prove anything except that you’re a tightwad who’d rather do a Buysman than do the right thing.

  30. @Oli

    I would hope that someone riding the same “route” as an event ride, presumably on open public roads would at least have the sense enough to not take advantage of the rest stops with food/water as that is what you’re paying for when you enter.

  31. @Oli
    I was kinda waiting for someone to notice that. (a)The ride registration was full. (b) It was a fund raising thing, we had a friend that was riding it and taking donations (we gave him $100.00 to that end). (c) We did not stop at nor use any of the services that those rides offer. We refilled bottles by buying from markets near the stops. (d) We did not cross the ‘Finish Line’ and get our photo taken, nor did we hang out at or go into the party tent/ area.
    Or maybe I’m an asshat and need a good beating.

  32. Or ride in a way that can affect the “result” (for want of a better word) by “dishing out some V”…just my opinion, of course.

  33. @scaler911

    While I mostly agree with you, it’s a personal rule of mine to nod snob anyone who’s obviously out on a training ride with a $10,000 Di2, Zipp 808 equipped Cervelo, wearing a skinsuit and pointy helmet going 25K. And tri-geeks. Sorry.

    I have a vision problem that makes these lamentably appalling sights impossible for me to see coming toward me, therefore not nodding or equivalent isn’t a snub, it’s a symptom of my handicap.

    Interestingly, I CAN see them if I come up from behind. Which absolutely requires reeling them in as quickly as possible & passing (if lucky, on whatever the closest incline resembling a “hill” – florida, ya know) – the pass must be at pace significantly faster than theirs, smooth and effortless (appearing), no audible loud breathing/bike rocking (should it have been a long reel in, or if they were actually making decent revs, requiring effort)… but esp. when delivering a slap down: very polite “RIDER ON YOUR LEFT,” casual finger lift (i NEVER look) as i gliiiiiiide by.

    …I’m wit ya, m’friend! Don’t gotta apologize to me!

  34. @ChrisO

    …Nevermind that I can’t ride in a bloody rotation, and the moon on a stick would be more realistic than a f*cking echelon.

    Sorry for the rant, you’ve brought it all out ! That and several glasses of wine while finishing an assignment.

    Oh, I am so pleased and happy to see the words “rotation” and “echelon” used as in the manner that you are on tv not watching it, but have yourselfs rotationed and echeloned! even used if in a rantishment way! I AM with my people, alhamdulilah!

    (howza weather? not a contest, just like hearing about the other hot spots; i feel a fraternityish type of thing. even tho’ i’m sure it’s outlandishly hotter there. we got 102 F today, 80% humid. wahoo!)

  35. @Karolinka
    It was 11C and raining again today. Whilst I love living in the Pacific NWet, when is it going to stop fucking raining!!??!! I’ve grown tired of Rule #9, and Rule #7 isn’t even in play yet……….Oh, wait, Rule #5, I’ll quit bitching now.

  36. I got snobbed on Monday and it really irritated me for some reason. Unfortunately my response left me with an etiquette dilemma. I was riding back from work, so in commuting mode, and about a mile from home some MAMIL came past me, “Evening,” I said. No response. I’d only been pottering, but this bloke wasn’t going that fast on his ultegra equipped Scott. So I upped my pace slightly just so he’d know I was there, but not actually slipstreaming him. The moment the road starts to go up he can’t maintain his pace and things started to get uncomfortably slow. “Sod it,” I thought, “I’ll go past him and then I’ll turn off down the lane to my hamlet,” which was coming up soon. A couple of cars came by so I couldn’t, then he turned down the lane himself. I presumed it would be bad form to overtake him and 200 yards later pull up my drive – mind you on one short but sharp hill it was almost impossible not to – so I just hung back. Did I do the right thing? He presumably now thinks I tried to keep up with him, but couldn’t.
    I’m guessing he was new to cycling and assumed anyone on a bike not made of carbon fibre was beneath contempt, not realising like you or I would, that someone on a 15 year old lugged steel campag equiped lightweight tourer with carefully selected components, might just have a few more bikes in the shed, and he couldn’t possibly believe that old bike in front of him used to do 6,000 miles a year and has been up Mt Ventoux more times that he’s had to pump up his tyres in the last 6 months. Now I’ve wound my self up again. Of course he might just have been a tosser.
    For what its worth I normally acknowledge most cyclists, unless in London, when obviously it would be pointless and not feasible.

  37. @Jaja

    That’s the beauty of dwelling in the realm of the “V”. There will always be somebody slower and always somebody faster than me. But I know the kilometers I’ve logged. I know the intervals I’ve done. I know my love of all things “V”. What do you care what some wanker on and Ultegra Scott thinks of you? Actually there is a certain comeliness to how your situation was left. You know you can crush Ultegra Scott dude. He thinks otherwise in his vainglory. Then one day the commuter on the weird bike will bring him back to brutal reality.

    Everything in life is a dichotomy. A temporal and a spiritual. Can I resist chasing down the rabbit in front of me or riding somebody off of my wheel because I can? Of course not. But at the same time I acknowledge everybody out on two wheels (Ok, maybe not the rectumbant rider) yet if engaged in conversation I (try to) never knock anybody’s ability or equipment. When it’s all said and done I hope that thoughts of Cyclops are as such – “Man, he’s fast, but he’s an awfully nice chap too”.

  38. @scaler911

    It was 11C and raining again today. Whilst I love living in the Pacific NWet, when is it going to stop fucking raining!!??!! I’ve grown tired of Rule #9, and Rule #7 isn’t even in play yet……….Oh, wait, Rule #5, I’ll quit bitching now.

    It doesn’t SOUND like you love it, lol!

    HTFU this, HTFU that… Rule #5 is core & key if you’re serious RE. making progress; & adherents spend large parts of their lives on the road. But let’s face it – if there isn’t some part of you that enjoys suffering on the Freight Train of Pain (in the weather where you live) – that’s a lotta suffering for… what?

    You probably aren’t being that serious – the occasional blow-off-steam gripe is perfectly allowable (IMHO), especially if it’s a pseudo-subtle way of letting ppl know “look what –> I < -- deal with, bitches!" I tell ya, tho - I haven't budged any further from the equator for a reason. I can't function well in the cold (not just on the bike; 24 hrs a day)(& I actually revel in the heat. I think I'm reptilian). I don't just hate cold & every thing that goes with it; I think I've trod this mortal coil long enough to know - tried to "relax, don't fight it," wear appropriate clothing, blah blah blah... NO. So, if you really love it there, remember that, don't fight it, and.... HTFU! Either that, or change may be in order!

  39. @Karolinka
    Just gotta blow off some steam. This winter has even the hardest locals bitching. About a month ago, we had gone 270 days without 3 days of sun in a row.
    I’ll tell you this tho, a guy gets quite a bit of cred around the workplace when you mash 90+ miles in February, when it’s around 9C and pouring, and all the fair weather cyclists just shake their head at you.
    Very Belgian here this year………….
    See y’all next week, as I’m off for a long weekend of glorious riding in the high desert, followed each afternoon with soaking in hot springs, and re-hydrating on fine IPA’s.

  40. @Cyclops
    Wise words. I like the notion of being permananetly poised on the cusp of decision. I aggree re acknowleging other riders. Even triatheletes, but then again the only two round my way are mates of mine so I normally end up riding with them for a bit.

  41. @Cyclops

  42. @scaler911

    If you don’t mind me asking, where in the PNW are you? I’m in Portland, and despite below-average temps recently (which I don’t mind, the heat kills me) it hasn’t been the worst spring ever for riding. I started picking back up my mileage in April and it’s been pretty great, actually.

    And it sounds like you’re headed to Bend, perhaps. If so have fun! I’m trying to get over there this summer for some road riding.


    Since you didn’t know the guy I wouldn’t spend much time worrying about it. Let the MAMIL (love that term) have his dreams of cycling awesomeness.

  43. I’ll gladly trade sun for clouds. It’s 39+ every day after work. But next week I will be able to do some pre work riding.

  44. @mcsqueak
    Vantucky. Maybe it just seems that way to me. Probably a lot has to do with the fact that I quit riding altogether in ’99, and just got back on my trusty steed (Ritchey Road Logic, mmmm love that bike) late last spring after some breeding and blimping. Maybe run into you out on the road, and yes, I (we) am heading over to Bend.

  45. @scaler911

    Just gotta blow off some steam. This winter has even the hardest locals bitching. About a month ago, we had gone 270 days without 3 days of sun in a row.

    Bleh. I’d be bitching.

    See y’all next week, as I’m off for a long weekend of glorious riding in the high desert, followed each afternoon with soaking in hot springs, and re-hydrating on fine IPA’s.

    Sounds like a perfect antidote. Enjoy!!

  46. What about the uninvited wheelsucking twat who thinks nothing of you pulling him uphill? Just as I was about to fuck off he looked older than my dad!! how do you handle that?

  47. @zalamanda
    He is playing the “pump and tube” role. Let him be and carry on.

  48. I must be careful to warrant only the right measure of a salute — or nod.

    (article excerpt)

    “… reciprocating with more enthusiasm than the original nod. Very uncool.”

  49. Actually going up- hill no-hands in the big ring applies a generous helping of righteousness, and a two hand salute to all. They normally will return the gesture with a total look of horror.

  50. @Marcus Interesting take @Marcus… I’ve been “laying down the V” (such as I can) for just over a year now, and am a regular Beach rd warrior.

    I got caught by a group a few weeks back and joined in their rotation uninvited. As far as I could tell, they were happy to have another body who was willing to pull his [vast] weight up the front.

    I had never given and thought (until reading your post) as to what is acceptable in such a situation. I spent a fair amount of time being a Beach rd wheel sucker until I got some decent fitness and spend most of my time out front (not necessarily by choice – I just don’t seem to get caught by such groups as much) – and as far as I understood things being a relative newb, is that you always try to lead out when/where you are able to contribute.

    Do you see the dilemma for those intermediates who are unfamiliar with the rules/etiquette?

    One rider (and only one) appeared to want to “protect the rotation” as you put it and asked to cut in. I would have thought anyone willing to NOT suck wheels on Beach rd was welcome.

    I do accept the risk to the group if some rider joins who really doesn’t know what they’re doing and can’t figure out their role in a single rotation (it’s not exactly rocket science).

    Next time, I’ll ask to join… will report what happens.

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