Do you HAVE to Chit-Chat With Other Riders?

When I glanced at the clock this morning, I hadn’t really planned on heading out for a day ride. It just sort of… happened. It was already a later start than I normally take so I opted for the ferry rather than riding off of Long Island via the Bronx.

heading out on the ferryWhen I pulled into the ferry parking lot I was the only motorcycle in line. The dock crew usually keeps motorcycles off to the side to squeeze them on wherever they’ll fit once the cars load.  I sat there for 10 minutes or so waiting my turn to ride up the ramp. While waiting, another motorcyclist arrived and pulled into the loading corral next to me. I gave a smile and a quick wave as we sat there idling, waiting to board.

When the dock staff motioned for us to go, the two of us loaded into the same area in the belly of the boat.

After parking, we both shed our gear and readied ourselves to head upstair to pay our fare. I didn’t make any small talk with my fellow rider or really even glance his way. You know how you can feeeeel someone looking at you like they want to talk? Yeah… that.

Sometimes, like this morning, that makes me feel like a dick. But the reality is, I just didn’t feel like talking. To anyone. I know I can come across as standoffish or chilly but, I’m just introverted. It sounds cliche but it’s not them, it’s me.

This leads me to question: Does the bond of riding oblige you to acknowledge your fellow motorcyclist or engage them deeper than just a quick hello? The rational part of me says, no. But the social norm part of me isn’t so sure.

I’m so socially awkward. It’s ridiculous.


Rachael is the whimsical writer behind the 20+ year old Girlie Motorcycle Blog. As a freelance blogger, she is on a mission to inspire laughter, self-examination, curiosity, and human connection. Girlie Motorcycle Blog can be found on several Best Motorcycle Blog lists.

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10 Responses

  1. Kathy says:

    It was just too early in the day. You don’t HAVE to do anything. If he really wanted to chat, he would have. You’re cool. You were just enjoying your own space.

  2. RichardM says:

    I don’t think so though I usually do if they are traveling through. Most other commuters have other things on their mind.

  3. Shybiker says:

    I’m shy also so I know where you’re coming from. Contrary to what I expected in the beginning of my riding career, I’ve learned that merely because someone rides is not enough to forge a personal bond. There’s a wide range of humanity on two wheels, some of whom appeal to us and some who don’t. We can chat with strangers if we want but there’s no obligation to. My reaction depends on individuals and context.

  4. Wayne Busch says:

    I give the wave when on the road. When stopped, I feel obligated to engage at least a little if I’m recognized. If I have something to offer, ie. help someone find their way, I’ll inject myself. Otherwise, it’s situational.

  5. Dar says:

    For me it always depends on body language of the motorcyclists, sometimes there are people I just don’t want to talk to. I also am along the same lines as others sometimes you just need your own space and don’t feel like chit chatting. I get the whole unspoken just because you ride bond thing , but in reality I don’t feel that same thing with others in the non-riding public, so there should be no expectation of chattiness.

  6. I never feel obligated, but the common bond of motorcycling and the great feeling I get from riding usually overcomes my inherent shyness. When it doesn’t, then perhaps my state of mind isn’t conducive to safe/proper riding. I’m a chronic waver, too.

  7. Canajun says:

    i find it’s always easier to strike up a conversation with another rider if you’re so inclined, but there’s no obligation. And the usual body language cues will tell you – or them – whether conversation is desired or not. Be polite and say hi but nothing required beyond that.

  8. Adrian says:

    You’re a woman rider. I wouldn’t be surprised if you get a helluva lot more motorcyclists trying to talk to you for this reason alone, y’know?

  9. Rick says:

    You can’t not communicate^^. You always send out signals and it depends on various factors of course. Why would you be obliged to speak? But i think that especially motorcycling is a splendid community experience. So it does no harm…

  10. Kevin says:

    Good point, Rick. You were communicating to this guy that you didn’t want to talk by not making eye contact. That’s the first part of striking up a conversation so even though he may have been up for convo at least he had the decency not to start talking when he picked up your signal. Hopefully he stopped eyeing you soon after. But I agree with the others; there’s no obligation.

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