Why on earth are you waving at me?

To my fellow Western North Carolina motorcycle riders: It's time to stop with the waving. It's foolish and, arguably, unsafe. I mean, riders are waving to each other across interstate medians now.

First of all, that “left hand outstretched” gesture is a left-turn signal to those of us from the old school who ride bikes [but don’t use] those dangerous turn signals. Yes, I mean "dangerous," due to the impression you give when they're forgotten and left flashing. I've never forgotten to put my arm back down after a turn. Bikes don't have auto-canceling turn signals.

This "Hey bro, down low" waving nonsense conditions cagers (car drivers) to disregard hand signals. There are also enough curves and hills around here that, outside of indicating a turn, two hands on the bars is probably a good policy to embrace and demonstrate to fellow motorists.

Further, this faux camaraderie is a total affectation. Motorcycles are now so stone-reliable that anybody in the world can own and ride one without truly loving the machines or culture. It's no exclusive club. There is no "brotherhood" left.

It used to be that if you broke down (and that used to happen with unfortunate regularity) the next guy on a bike would stop to help, and a friendship would often develop between two unconventional souls with common experiences and outlooks. Now we have nifty cellphones.

I've been riding for decades, and if your bike's newer than 20 years old, I probably don't share anything with you but two wheels, a goofy plastic bowl strapped to my head and license endorsement. Yes, I feel newbies have hijacked a subculture that was once colorful, fun and significant to me. Yes, I think I'm too cool to associate with you guys. Yes, I know that makes me a big old grouchy jerk.

So why on earth are you still waving at me?

— Norman Plombe

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8 thoughts on “Why on earth are you waving at me?

  1. boatrocker

    1) “Cagers”, or those inferior automobile drivers apparently are bound by law to use turn signals (pardon me while I laugh hysterically for living in NC) but motorcyclists somehow are above us for not having to use them. What?!?

    Signalling your intentions is a good thing last I checked as the law of superior mass still exists. Those cute little motorcycles have pesky laws of the road to obey too if they don’t want to end up like Duane Allman.

    Note- as a ‘cager’ who’s been driving for decades too, I have stopped to assist a motorcyclist on the side of the road during a hailstorm but felt bad for the poor biker as he had to be seen taking help from a 4 wheeled driver-
    how demeaning.

    2) That ‘goofy plastic bowl’ on your head is called a helmet and it’s not a bad thing. Kayakers (we call them brain buckets), firefighters, skateboarders, certain aircraft pilots and construction workers use them too. Don’t like it? Don’t ride a bike- driving anything is a privilege, not an inalienable right. I’m sure similar complaints about seat belts were expressed in 1958 when Saab first introduced them to cars as a standard component.

    Better yet- please leave explicit written instructions to your family as to how to feed you and change your diapers when you sustain a massive organic head trauma from a wreck and raise insurance rates for the rest of us.

    3)As another big old grouchy jerk, I get your point though, 2 hands on the bars is a good thing. Yakking on a cell phone while driving anything, not so much. Call it part of my unconventional outlaw bad boy subculture- living to drive another day.

  2. Norman Plombe


    First of all, that left hand outstretched gesture is a LEFT TURN SIGNAL to those of us from the old school who ride bikes without those dangerous (yes I mean “dangerous” due to the impression you give when they’re forgotten and left flashing) turn signals. I’ve never forgotten to put my arm back down after a turn (bikes don’t have auto-cancelling turn signals). This “Hey bro, down low” waving nonsense conditions cagers (car drivers) to disregard hand signals.

  3. scottc1965a

    As a rider of just over 3 years, I have to assume that I’m one of the ones that Norman Plombe doesn’t have anything in common with. Having put a combined 20,000 miles on two different motorcycles (both with auto-canceling turn signals by the way), I have thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie of other bikers. I have even stopped to help and check on a few broken down bikers. My camaraderie is in no way “faux”, and I have plenty of space on my road for new riders.
    You’re right Norman. You are too cool for me, and if I happen to wave at you, you do not have to wave back. It’s O.K. I hope you have many more decades of safe riding in spite of yourself.

  4. Norman Plombe

    If I’m not mistaken, auto-cancelers are on a timer. So you make a right turn and your signal is still flashing as you approach the entrance/exit from Taco Bell on your right. The driver leaving Taco bell is so excited to hav just bought a big burrito and large coke that she’s tweeting about it to her best friend. She sees your turn signal (still flashing because the 30 or 60 seconds have not yet passed to shut of the blinker) and pulls out in front of you. It’s a classic ‘gotcha.’

    How ’bout this…all you newbies can start saluting one another by blinking your turn signals as a friendly ‘ahoy.’ It makes as much sense as using a left turn hand signal as a greeting…and why are you guys bigoted against car drivers…they don’t deserve a hailing of any kind?

  5. boatrocker

    Well, I guess everyone needs a crusade. Calling car drivers “cagers” still strikes me as a wee bit elitist.

    If I give you an idea that could potentially make millions, would you patent it and flood Congress with $ so they passed a bill to put it onto all vehicles?

    I’m thinking of a turn signal that is activated when a wheel or set of handlebars is moved past a certain position (aka turning) and afterwards sends a small electric shock through the seat to remind the driver to de-activate it. I figure hey, if they have heated seats, why not a kick in the pants to remind you to use and de-activate said signals? Problem solved.

  6. Big Al

    Norm, you sure whine a lot for a biker. I thought you guys were supposed to be renegades, lone wolves, uncaring about what other people think.

    Then some young’un waves at you and your panties get all wadded up. Get off your toy bike and make sure you still have a pair down there.

    • Norman Plombe

      Dude, I’ve seen guys nearly go off the road waving. Waving while making a turn at an intersection, waving around tight turns on the dragon, waving in parking lots. There’s no way I’m the only one who thinks it’s foolish.

      As far as you having a go at my masculinity…really? Via a computer-based discussion you question my toughness? Wow, that’s rich.

      I ride a 30 year old shovel that I built with my hands. It’s somewhere around my 40th bike, all built frame up. As far a my ‘biker resume’ goes, I won’t be seeking your opinion or validation.

  7. Nathan

    As i biker i gotta say Norman doesn’t represent the motorcycling community very well.

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