I recently attended an evening at Stroud Brewery. A visit there just to sample the beer and pizza would have been enough to justify the journey as it’s that good and well set up but on this particular evening there was a talk on long distance self supported endurance riding and bike packing.
At the end of the 3 talks there was a Q&A session and amongst the questions was one for which the answer really hit home to me.
The question was “after doing these long distance events what would you do different next time” One of the speakers spoke of taking less than 1.5kg of flap jack and the other less socks but Katherine Moore said the thing she’d do differently is “ride more slowly”
I’ve never been fast even though I’m probably fitter on the bike now than when i was in my twenties but I’ve always looked at my average speed on rides with a bit of disappointment. I work in a bike shop and a lot of the chat with customers revolves around how fast is that, how many watts will it give me, my average speed etc etc so I know many cyclists are obsessed by this, not just the road riders but MTBers too who love to check their time on a downhill segment or try for a KOM on strava or similiar stat based apps.
Katherine said “ride more slowly” and went on to explain that she’d done lots of races in incredible places with dramatic scenery and ridden with riders from all over the world but because she had either been trying to go as fast as she could or needed to finish before a cut off time she hadn’t really taken notice of the scenery or spent time getting to know those interesting people. She said that her goal now was not to worry about the clock and enjoy the ride instead.
This was the one thing that stood out for me. I’ve been hashtagging my photos on Instagram UKgravelCO with #lowspeedadventures more to make excuses for the lack of pace but I realise now that going slower and enjoying the ride rather than the performance is the way to go for me. I want to do rides where looking over the hedge at the view is more important than looking at the backside of the rider in front and holding their wheel. I want to ride at a chatting pace and not worry that a checkpoint isn’t going to be reached at an allotted time.
i feel liberated, the pressure is off. it’s time to enjoy the ride rather than the numbers, sit back, relax and just turn the pedals. This just might be a huge turning point in my riding experience. Will it put me off doing “race” based events? maybe, but perhaps this will now give me the impetus and motivation to seek out like minded riders, those who like the idea of no pressure low speed adventures where the actual ride and the people are the focus rather than the minutiae of the stats.