I have no idea what the guy said. The headwind was roaring in my ears, and my light jacket was flapping like a flag in a hurricane when I passed him on the C Street bike path.
He was spinning a small gear into the maw of Monday night’s wind tunnel, and I caught up to him only because I was mashing the shit out of my 36x16 and wondering what had ever possessed me to turn my commuter bike into a singlespeed.
We smiled at one another and I yelled something like, “This is insane!” He probably couldn’t hear me, despite us being only three feet apart. He smiled and yelled something back, so I nodded as if I understood, then kept inching ahead, slowly.
After getting home, I posted a comment about the headwind on Facebook, prompting my old friend Helen to reply: “There are things for situations like this. They're called cars.” In the ensuing exchange of comments, she pointed out that drivers can communicate easily in all situations—with their middle fingers.
I suddenly felt much better about fighting that bugger of a headwind, because Helen had reminded me of one of the greatest things about riding a bike.
When motorists are stuck in rush-hour gridlock, tempers flare and everyone gets angry. But when bike commuters find themselves in adverse conditions, they support each other with friendly waves and knowing smiles. Their shared suffering creates an unspoken bond.
Try finding something that cool the next time you’re on a freeway.