Over the last few years I’ve come to realise what many people who are forced to use a bicycle for transport already know. If you slow down a little you get to your destination a little later but a lot less fatigued. Sadly, it has taken me many years of riding to come to this realisation. It has taken me many years to slow down, enjoy my riding and ride more often.
Cycling in Australia seems to be dominated by people who are constantly challenging themselves and other people to go faster. I used to be one of those people and still have to resist the urge sometimes when I see another rider in the distance. This is an unfortunate phenomenon as it leads to the public face of cycling being dominated by lycra clad speedsters with shaved legs. Cycling is for everyone, not a select few.
Over the years I’ve slowly removed all gadgetry from my bikes that tell me how fast I’m going and how far I’ve gone in what time. This has removed most of my ability to compete with myself through constant comparison to previous rides. What I’ve found is that a lot of the time I now get to work, or wherever I’m going, just as fast as I used to but I’m not exhausted when I arrive.
On Wednesday I rode the 35km home from work at a very relaxed pace. There was no urgent pedalling when taking off from traffic lights. There was no unnecessary exertion going up hills. I had time to look around and time to think about more than just pedalling and how hard I was working. It was a great ride despite the traffic and I had time to think about bikes. New bikes!
An Envirofuel reader put me on to the Stokemonkey electric hybrid drive for bicycles. After reading about that I discovered Clever Cycles in Seattle and through them Retrovelo in Germany. And there I discovered the Retrovelo Paul!
This beautifully made machine is now at the top of my new bicycle wish list. It won’t be the fastest bike on the road but its relaxed geometry, fat tyres and practical components tell me it would be the very enjoyable ride I’m looking for. The mudguards, chainguard, Shimano 8 speed hub and hub brakes say it all. This is a bike that is built to be ridden and enjoyed every day, no matter the weather. Now, if only I could get my hands on one here in Australia…