In Iowa City, we love our bikers — but we may not entirely understand them. If you’ve ever seen a bearded biker with a basket full of New Pi almond milk, flashing incomprehensible hand signals at you, you’re not alone. Luckily, The Black Sheep got to the bottom of this mystery, and it turns out that most of those mystifying biker hand signals are just pretentious literary references.
5.) The tea time pinky raise:
If you’ve ever witnessed an Iowa City biker pause at a Burlington intersection and raise a pinky in the air, shooting a meaningful glance at the car across from them, you’ve seen a gesture that means absolutely nothing. The only thing this hand signal is supposed to communicate is that the biker in question has read enough Jane Austen to know proper tea etiquette in early 19th century Britain. Java House scones, anyone?
4.) The eschaton backhand:
Bikers have been spotted swinging their arms back and forth, as if stroking tennis balls, while making eye contact with others on Clinton Street. Don’t panic if you don’t know what they’re trying to convey — these Iowa City bikers just want to make sure you know that they’ve read The Infinite Jest (or at least gotten halfway through, given up, and then read the plot summary on the David Foster Wallace Wiki). Impressive!
3.) Hopeless shrugging:
Another strange signal you may have seen from our beloved bikers is dejected shrugs, often geared at other bikers or students. If you’ve been wondering what they’re shrugging about, wonder no more — these bikers have just recently made their way through James Joyce’s Ulysses and have no idea what they just read. Not even the most pretentious bikers in one of the most pretentious writers’ programs in the nation can figure THAT shit out.
2.) Ahab’s revenge:
Pedestrians and drivers alike have taken note of Iowa City bikers yelling unintelligibly and miming harpoon blasts as they pedal past large white vehicles. Sometimes gangs of these bikers will form around UIowa campus grounds-keeping vans, menacingly circling them and shaking their fists. If you happen to see such an alarming display, don’t worry — our local bikers just really want you to know that they’ve read Moby Dick and they’re in on the whole white whale thing.
1.) Existential terror:
Students have occasionally noticed Iowa City bikers laying in the middle of the road in the fetal position, holding their bikes close to them, crying quietly. This phenomenon has been known to cause major traffic jams, as it sometimes takes days before they rise to pedal away. There’s no need to worry. However, these bikers just want to signal that they’ve been browsing the philosophy section at Prairie Lights, picked up one of Jean-Paul Sartre’s works, and are now deep in a pit of existential despair.
Although our bikers might cause confusion on occasion, we wouldn’t trade their quirks for the world. We here in Iowa City are proud to be a city of bikers and a UNESCO city of literature. Read on, eco-friendly bookworms!
Listen to Talk of Shame, a podcast about being young & dumb. Hosted by 2 drunk girls from The Black Sheep corporate, Mackenzie Harding & Andrea Jablonski. One can’t find her tampon, the other one’s laundry is probably on fire.