Words & Pictures by Jesper Grundahl
I’m an early riser. Fatherhood and cycling made me become this. When I was younger I could sleep much longer, but becoming a father made me appreciate those quiet mornings, while everyone is still asleep, and the chance of experiencing the sunrise and a new day breaking.
As a cyclist that same feeling grew on me as I became more and more fascinated with the sport, and when you combine cycling and photography you quickly realize the best light is always early in the morning. So, since I wake-up early I might as well also just head out early.
Riding early in the morning is a gift to me. There is hardly any traffic around, the animals are just waking up, you see deers jumping across the road, the occasional fox and then of course you meet riders who rise and head out as early as you. It is like a secret club. We are in this together. There are only us on a deserted road. A meeting of likeminded cycling individuals. But, there is something wrong in the secret club.
Over the years I have noticed the noticeable lack of saying HELLO when you meet other riders on the road early in the morning. Needless to say, at the height of the season, with literally hundreds and hundreds of riders on the road, you stop saying hello or nodding past 9.30AM. You would otherwise be breaking you neck from greeting everyone. But before then, and especially at the crack of dawn on a deserted farm road, and there are only two of you, or three or even four there is a ground set of rules how to greet one another in cycling. It is after all a “secret” morning club.
Back in the day (the good old days, some might say), when cycling was less commercial, and there were less riders around it was common you greeted one another when you met in the morning. This “rule” has since stuck, like many other written or unwritten rules in cycling, and today it is common practice you greet each other up until 9.30AM. However, as cycling has grown, become more commercial, and a vast amount of riders have taken onto the roads, this rule has to a large degree vanished. Which is a shame, I think, because saying hello or greeting someone in the early morning is a kind thing to do. It shows you care. It shows you want the other person to actually have a great day and finally it shows you are a positive person.
The Greet, The Hello or The Nod is still commonly used among riders who know the history of the sport, but for those unaware of how to practice this great, positive rule I thought it fitting to explain how to go about it on the road.
Let’s be honest, you are not about to embark on a long cruise on a yacht, so waving par sé is kept to a bare minimum in cycling. Unless you are waving goodbye to your kids. Instead, keep it cool, less is more and certainly never wave like royalty(!)
ON THE ROAD
There is a lot of snobbery in cycling. Who do you say hello to and who do you not? If you meet someone on a deserted farm road at 8AM in the morning, and there are only you, don’t make that distinction. Be kind to the person you meet. It’s not a question of he or she is dressed in the right brand or are riding the right set of wheels - it’s a person you meet, and it’s polite to greet them. After 9.30AM you can decide if you want to say hello to everyone, which is quite a task and perhaps a little strange, or just want to greet riders you feel you have something in common with.
HOW TO GREET
There are different ways of showing friendliness when greeting someone on the road. Again, unless you are meeting a long lost friend you haven’t seen in 25 years, keep your appreciation of the other rider(s) cool. This can be done in a manner of ways:
1. Lifting your left hand easily from the bar with your fingers extended. Easy does it!
2. Lift your fingers slightly from the bar or brake hood, while your hand is still holding the bar. The slightly more casual greeting!
3. The Nod. This can be done, so it’s barely noticeable, but your fellow rider will notice, or a bit more visible. Just keep it to one nod only. Don’t do repeated, long nods or you will look like a russian dolls head on a spring, and don’t do quick repeated nods or you might say yes to something you don’t know anything about.
4. Never wave with both hands, and certainly never quickly with loose wrists. Dressed in your aero-cut cycling apparel you might look like Benny The Sea Lion on a bike waving.
If you like me is an early riser, and meet other riders enjoying the same peaceful morning as you, it really is as simple as that. Either casually wave a hand, lift a finger or two or simply just nod your head casually, and the other person you meet will know you care. They will feel appreciated, and as a human it’s a rare thing these days.
Enjoy your Easter rides.