It seems that lately there’s been a trend towards advocating to ride your bike slower, at least within the publishing department of Bicycling magazine. With pieces this week like this one and this one [bicycling.com], a few people are coming out to say that you’ll be happier if you would just slow it down on that bicycle.
Well, they’re not wrong. I’ve been “advocating” (or complaining, really) for some time that people who want to go fast are riding for the wrong reasons. And I know, I know-- any reason to go ride a bike is a good reason, but if I were completely honest with myself, I could do without the whole road racing culture and the effect it has on the bike industry, but I digress. The main point is, when you’re riding fast, the sensation of speed is really the only thing you can enjoy at that point, because everything else is a blur.
On a similar note, I have noticed that there are times when I’m riding (and I’m sure many commuters can relate as well) that I just don’t feel like riding. Something about having to be on your way somewhere, or the headwind that is unceremoniously making your life difficult, or the strain in the your legs as you push yourself up a hill… somewhere in all of that, you can lose the fun of being on a bike and succumb to grumpiness. Then, when you realize you are unhappy doing something that typically makes you happy, you can even get a little angry.
I’m not saying that riding slowly will solve that dilemma for you, but sometimes it’s the only thing you can do. Most oftentimes, when I find myself not enjoying a ride, it’s because I’ve unconsciously started to pedal too hard, to ride too fast, to just try and get there, like I’m in a car and can just speed things up by pushing on the gas. But I’m not in a car, I’m on a bicycle and that means something. Once I take a breath, drop down a couple gears, and just ride at a slower pace, that frustration usually subsides and all is right with the world again.
So there’s my addition to the growing number of voices saying “slow down”. And if you want to ride fast anyway, that’s fine too, just don’t expect me to keep up.
- Bicyclist Abroad