You don’t have to bike fast


You don’t have to bike fast. It’s okay to ride a big, slow bike that you love and enjoy the journey of getting there. It’s okay if bikers clad in spandex pass you on the trail. It’s okay if a casual biker who looks like your mom passes you on the trail. You don’t have to bike fast. Good for them. Maybe they have bigger muscles, more energy, or a lighter bike. Maybe they are fueled by anger, joy, or frustration. Maybe they are simply late for a meeting. That’s their thing. It’s not your responsibility to catch up to them or feel bad for being passed. They’re going faster than you, that’s okay.

You don’t have to buy a fast bike. People might scoff at your vintage cruiser frame that creaks and sighs when you crank up a hill. People might make faces at how big or heavy your bike is or how much stuff you haul. They like going fast. That’s okay. You don’t have to. You have other priorities. You want to get there without getting sweaty. You want to ride this amazing, albeit heavy, bike that your dad found in your grandma’s basement. You want to bring your dog and camping gear and music equipment and party supplies and all sorts of other stuff with you to where you’re going. That’s great! You’re doing your thing. Do it at your pace.

You don’t have to be uncomfortable. You don’t like that aerodynamic drop bar position? That’s just fine. Sit as upright as you want and don’t worry about that wind resistance. You don’t like skinny tires that make your bike feel twitchy and precarious? Pedal the sturdiest, heaviest bike with the biggest, fattest tires and don’t worry about that rolling resistance. Resistance to resistance is futile. Ride the bike you want and go as slow as you like.

You, rider of the slow bike, have the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. Your pace is your own, it’s one of the ways that you express what is fully and most fundamentally you. You can watch those squirrels flirt while racing around that big oak tree. You can look out over that expanse of water and feel the beauty sink into your soul. You can observe what’s going on in your neighborhood and shout hello to friends and neighbors. You feel relaxed enough to make casual conversation with the slow rider in front of you. You may not be the fastest rider, but you sure feel good doing it.

You know that you can ride your bike however you want. In Mary Oliver’s poem The Wild Geese she says:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

You do not have to ride fast.
You do not have to crouch on a racing bike
for a hundred miles unsupported through gravel.
You only have to bike in whatever way
makes your heart swoon with love.