A Preferred Mode: A Response to the “Slow Ride” Post

It has been several weeks now since I posted the article Slow Ride: Biking Doesn’t Have to Be a Race. Since that post I was amazed at the many different responses we received about the article, both here on SchwinnRed and across the internet. The variety of opinion really got me thinking about what it means to ride a bike, not only in the States, but anywhere and if there truly is a preferred mode.for blog

This week on another one of my 2 hour long road bike journeys (yes I was dressed in lycra and going fast) I stumbled upon a realization. I prefer speeding along on my road bike. It is my preferred mode. It is the way that I best enjoy bicycling and the way that brings me the most happiness. When I am flying down a smooth paved path for miles on end I feel truly alive and that is not only okay, that is a great thing! In an article on Momentum Magazine’s website, Can Everyday Bicycling Make You Happier?,  author Karin Olafson explains the same phenomena of improved mental wellness and euphoria that I experience each and every day I “race” to work and which I believe is why people continue to cycle.

That being said, I also want to address a comment I received about the Slow Ride Article being a “silly fluff piece” by stating that, having written it, I truly disagree. I have partially embraced the Slow Ride since writing about it on May 22 by learning how to enjoy my bike rides in a new way. There are things that you miss when speeding from place to place that you experience when bicycling leisurely. On one occasion I took my old Schwinn cruiser to the beach on a lazy Sunday and stopped at several local stores on the way. I had no set time to be anywhere and I just enjoyed the capability to be mobile and engaged with my surroundings. Several other times when I wanted to wear a dress I found that taking that same cruiser to the Terrace was a fun way to people watch, check out the flowers, and as an added plus I was able to look fairly stylish (aka less shrink wrapped in spandex).

Sam Polcner's latest photo!

Sam Polcner’s latest photo!

However, I also agree with that same comment which stated that a Slow Ride bicycling style is not for everyone or everywhere. But I would counter with something someone shared with us on Facebook last month. When asked what their favorite type of bike was they said all their bikes were their favorites, because each was like a tool, designed with its own purpose and value. Upon further reflection I think the same should hold true when we question what the best method of cycling is. The answer shouldn’t be one style or speed is better than the other, but rather that whether you call it biking, cycling, racing, bicycling, cruising, slow riding, or cat sixing, all forms of cycling have a purpose. I also thought about my favorite bike photographer, Sam Polcner and his many subjects, with their many different styles in both dress and bike. Each of these people in Sam’s photos shows us that bicycling doesn’t have one face, but rather is a layered culture of diversity.  That is awesome! That is huge! That is GLOBAL!

Slow Ride: Biking Doesn’t Have to Be a Race was an exercise in changing perceptions; personally it was a challenge for me to embrace another style of biking, rethink my “preferred mode”, and a learning experience about the definitions that can be held in the overarching bike cultures. Yet, what I took away was not a preference for one form of cycling or the other, but rather an ability to appreciate and embrace the best of both styles and I haven’t even explored mountain biking yet!

Honestly, I will still be seen spending most of my weekends decked out in lycra and pushing myself to cut my time and with a most beloved road bike designed for that use in mind it makes sense for me to be riding like that; yet, I promise you this if you see a girl looking cute on a cruiser Slow Riding her way down the street, well, now that girl could very well be me.

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Get Out and Ride!


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: http://momentummag.com/

To view Sam Polcer’s photos and new book, New York Bike Style visit his website Preferred Mode at: http://www.preferredmode.com/