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.
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).
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.
Get Out and Ride!