Slow Ride: Biking Doesn’t Have to Be a Race

Believe it or not biking does not have to be a full-fledged cardio workout every time you go for a ride. In fact, a lot of countries seem to be on to something that many of us in the States have yet to fully embrace, the idea of a “slow ride.”


The thought behind the Slow Ride Movement is that cycling can be relaxing, and a mere trot to the typical American gallop. I am personally guilty of the latter. I can’t seem to slow down. Every day I bike to work like I am racing against every commuter on the bike path for first place in Tour de France. I arrive to work sweaty and tired, so when my manager put an article on my desk from Momentum Magazine’s May-June 2014 issue, titled “How to Bike to Work,” I was pretty skeptical that it could offer anything new for me. Yet, there it was. An idea I had heard many times, but had never really gave too much personal thought to… “moderate pace.” These two words sparked me to rethink my “Need For Speed” inspired biking habits.

The Secrets to Cycling Like An Amsterdammer: Momentum Magazine

The Secrets to Cycling Like An Amsterdammer: Momentum Magazine

Leisurely cycling is actually quite popular in other areas of the world. Places such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Utrecht all have large communities who bike in this way that seems to shout  “bicycle culture.” In the United States, where everyone seems to be in a rush, a change to a similar bicycle culture , or Slow Bike Movement, is just beginning to gain traction.

People who embrace the Slow Bike Movement may actually be even more bicycle-friendly than your sport centric cyclist. For many slow riders biking becomes less of a singular focus on physical activity and more of a way of life. Slow riders often favor the type of bike that allows them to sit up straight and comfortably. Added crates and cargo carriers are often additions to slow riders’ bikes to aid in shopping trips and slow commutes and in larger bike communities, like the ones mentioned above, safety becomes less of an issue as the majority mode of transportation switches to bikes. They usually do not bother with cycling sportswear and instead will wear whatever they have chosen to wear for the day, and with a slow pace it doesn’t make much of a difference, because sweating becomes a non-issue.

One of the many excellent photos from Preferred Mode

One of the many excellent photos from Preferred Mode

Images of New York cyclist from Preferred Mode immediately come to mind when I think about the possibility of a shift to the bicycle culture here in the United States. After all who wouldn’t want to be healthier, more environmentally-friendly, save money, and be photo ready when Sam Polcer and his camera come around?

The lesson I learned; I don’t have to be decked out in spandex or pushing a pace over 16mph hour every time I ride my bike. In fact, I think it is about time that I take out my old cruiser, throw on a spring dress, and go for a relaxing and leisurely ride around Lake Monona.

Get Out and Ride!


Read our follow up: A Preferred Mode: A Response to the “Slow Ride” Post!

For more information about Momentum Magazine visit their website at:

To view Sam Polcer’s photos and new book, New York Bike Style visit his website Preferred Mode at:

6 thoughts on “Slow Ride: Biking Doesn’t Have to Be a Race

  1. Pingback: What I learned this week, May 23, 2014 | Bill Chance

  2. Pingback: What I learned this week, May 23, 2014 | Tinseltown Times

  3. I am really surprised that it has taken you so long to realise that cycling is just transport. It is just like a car. You use it for shopping, getting the kids to school, visiting friends, going to the pub etc. In other words, like a car, it is a tool. The odd thing that has happened in the UK and the States is that nearly everyone seems to to think hopping on a bike is a sport. It isn’t, any more than everyday driving is a sport. Like motoring however it can be a sport. That’s what racing etc. is all about. Cars and bikes used for that are specially designed for the purpose. However, and I have no idea how or why it happened, nearly everyone thinks of cyclists as sportmen whether or not they are are, like me, a utilitarian cyclist, whereas no-one would dream, just because they drive a car, of describing the average motorist as a sportsman.

    When we finally understand, like the Dutch and the Danish in particular, that cycling is just something that is ordinarily incorporated into one’s life then cycling will hit critical mass and motoring will decline somewhat (it will never go away though – motoring does have its uses). I have always treated my bike as a tool. I don’t race and have never worried about the possible health benefits. I ride a bike because it is incredibly useful. Moreover it is not a ‘slow ride’ as you suggest. I can get across London, without racing, faster than any car and can usually beat public transport too. The bike has the advantage that it can go door to door. In my case I have a folding bike so it comes with me into the shop, office or whereever. It is almost never out of my sight and I have no parking problems!

    Forget the cardio workouts, just use the bike for what it was always intended – an incredibly efficient way of getting from A to B whilst shopping, visiting friends etc. You will get the health benefits anyway!


  4. I get that this is just a silly fluff piece, but you simply cannot compare most US cities to Amsterdam and Copenhagen, nor expect cyclists here to adopt their cycling culture. I live in Austin, Texas. It is a fairly bicycle friendly place, but it is a typical American, sprawling city. I don’t ride as quickly as possible because I am competing with others or trying to get a workout; I do it because it is necessary to get to work in a reasonable amount of time. If I rode at a leisurely pace, it would probably take me over 45 minutes to go the 5+ miles to work. Not to mention the climate–I invite you to try cycling any distance at any speed in Austin in the summer without sweating. Europe just doesn’t get that hot.

    Our cycling culture is ours, and it makes sense for us. It is easy to bring a change of clothes and cargo carriers work the same when you are hauling ass as when you are dragging ass. Unless they live in an older, more compact city and/or can afford to live near the core, it is unlikely that most Americans will live near enough to their work or other destinations to ride so slowly. The US is not Europe! Why should we bike like them?


  5. Pingback: A Preferred Mode: A Response to the “Slow Ride” Post | SchwinnRed

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