Fast is not something I’ve ever claimed I am on a bicycle, or in life in general. That comes with the territory, for me at least. Sure, there are times when I get up to some pretty fast speeds, all downhill, of course. I reached 50.5 miles per hour downhill at Bike Night at Circut of the Americas was my highest. That’s like, hit a pebble or mess up and go to the hospital fast. But most of the time I’m ambling along averaging 10 miles per hour. I’m fine with that. You ask me, overall, slow is the way to go. And here’s why.
Slow is beautiful because:
You see stuff you wouldn’t whizzing by. Sometimes I find some pretty interesting stuff. Did you ever play that little game in a car (if you grew up with one in your family), I spy with my little eye? Everyone has to guess what it is. But in a car, things are gone pretty quickly. Not so on a bike (and even less so walking). One of the best things I saw in recent memory was a stuffed squirrel piloting a canoe. It was cute, hilarious, and a painstakingly handcrafted work of art all at the same time. Not just beautiful, but sublime. Today I stopped because someone left out a few things, and I went home with a nice journal. And because I am doing a gratitude journal daily this year, I’ll need a new one eventually.
You can ride longer. If you burn all your energy racing to get somewhere, you won’t have any legs left to go farther. Slow lets you spend more T.ime I.n T.he S.addle. And who could argue with more T.I.T.S.? (Don’t complain until you’ve read that linked post.) Seriously, though, saving your legs does mean you can ride more. If that’s what you want to do, keep a steady, sustainable pace. Don’t burn your matches early. And enjoy the extra saddle time. Hurting yourself to go faster makes no sense to me. Sure, there some suffering for a while to meet a goal. And if you’re just fitter or naturally fast, knowck yourself out. But
It’s safer. They say about cars that speed kills. This is true for bicycles too, especially when jockeying with cars for road space and right of way. I can’t tell you the amount of times that I was going along at my regular clip when someone cuts me off with their car by turning right directly in front of me. If I’m Speed Racer on a bike, I might be hurt or dead numerous times over by now. Riding sensibly keeps things predictable. After one lap around the equator (24,901 miles), I can honestly say that I’ve never had a crash with a car. I also avoid more glass and debris.
It’s more social. Try smiling and waving at your neighbor when you’re flying by at 20 mph or more. You just don’t meet anyone that way, because there’s no time to even have a quick word. Tonight as I was reaching the top of a little rise, a guy in his yard said, “How’s it going?” I said, huffing a bit, “Ask me at the top!” He laughed, I reached the top a moment later, and said, “I’m good now that I’m there.” He chuckled again. A Dude likes to have a little fun.
The other night I was in downtown Austin, and stopped to hear a band that was playing at an upstairs outdoors venue. Across the street came a woman on a bike, also curious about the music. I waved, and she crossed the street to join me. Turns out, she was a visitor who was just out exploring the city on a borrowed bicycle. We chatted a good long while, and who knows, maybe she’ll take me up on my offer to show her around. Even if she doesn’t, it was fun to meet someone with fresh eyes on my town.
What are some other reasons to ride slowly?
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