Can I Nod Snob a Kid?

Can I Nod Snob a Kid?

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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. @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.

  2. @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.

  3. @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.

  4. @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.

  5. @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.

  6. @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.

  7. 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.

  8. @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!

  9. @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!)

  10. @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.

  11. 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.

  12. @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”.

  13. @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!

  14. @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.

  15. @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.

  16. @Cyclops

  17. @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.

  18. 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.

  19. @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.

  20. @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!!

  21. 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?

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

  23. 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.”

  24. 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.

  25. @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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