The other day I was riding (and thinking a bit too) along Heidelberg Rd, when a car suddenly appeared out of a side street. To ensure they weren't going to t-bone me, I made the usual eye contact, found it, and proceeded along my way.
This fairly standard episode got me thinking about the micro relationships cyclists share with drivers, purely through the eye contact we make with them. I hesitate to call them relationships, because they don't tend to last more than three seconds. But you can often know (or feel as if you know) quite a lot about the person, just from those few seconds of one on one.
I guess it's because you are essentially judging whether you can trust them, whether it's safe to ride past them without them hitting the gas and killing you. It's like a real small introduction to them as people, a judgement of which you have to make in a micro second.
Sometime's it's really nice too. Like exchanging smiles with someone who is clearly a cyclist too. That little nod and wave is all it takes. Or that one time I (in an incredibly lame way) gave the metal horns to some metal head in a falcon who was blasting Obituary. The surprised grin he gave as some muppet in a skin tight outfit gave him the horns, probably changed his view of cyclists forever. Sure, they look dumb, but dudes sure have sweet music taste.
Then there are those drivers who clearly resent your very existence, let alone your presence on the road, and eye contact with them becomes a sort of face off, each person daring the other to get in their way. Like an old west gun fight. Except no guns, and less ruggedly handsome faces.
Eventually you feel like you can typecast most drivers: fellow cyclists, friendly old people, angry old people, cute girls, tradies, soccer mums, hipsters, learner drivers (safe!), P drivers (bad). And you make a judgement as to how likely it is that these people are going to kill you. But also what they're interests are, what they like to do on weekends, what kind of music they like, etc, etc. For a few seconds, you're introduced to their world. Or maybe it's just me.
Then there was this one time, a car pulled up at a side street, and there was a border collie at the wheel.
Here's some vintage Obituary.
See ya next Monday folks.