Why Independent Slow Cycle Touring Rocks

In Cycle Tours, Gentle Travelby Jamie4 Comments

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I’d rather ride very slowly with my best friend than speed along with a bunch of riders I don’t know.
On our  independent cycle tour through the Cotswolds I got to thinking about what delights me about slow cycle touring.  I wasn't always a gentle cycling enthusiast.  Riding with Susan taught me to slow down and have fun.

When Susan first started cycling with me I thought I would never be happy riding so slow.  I tried coaching her, challenging her, goading her (just a little).  But it didn’t take me too long to realize that at nearly 60 years old, Susan was not about to ruin her bicycle fun by riding hard.  That’s when I learned that I’d rather ride slowly with my best friend than speed along with a bunch of riders I don’t know.  And I’m so glad I did because slow cycle touring rocks.  We’ve been gentle cyclist for a  years now.

Six things I learned while slow cycle touring

  • You make new friends. When you show up on bikes, local people engage you on a personal level. People are curious and sharing. They’re willing to help. That’s not something you get in a group of 25.
  • Quiet time is healthy. There’s something about traveling with your best friend at a gentle pace that frees the mind.
  • You can gain a deeper understanding of the places you visit and the environments you pass through. Slow riding in the open air, you notice things: traffic, weather, terrain, wind direction and the time of day. It’s just you, just there.
  • You’re free to adventure as you see fit. Anytime you want to you can change directions or stop to explore. And that’s fun.
  • You test your self-reliance in new ways. Your skills and decisions, your attitudes and physical tolerances. It makes you humble and proud at the same time.
  • Your gentle cycling experience is more deeply embedded because you planned (and anticipated) it. Not someone else. You experienced it intimately -- minute by minute. When it’s all over, it’s you who is changed when your brain says, “Wow, let’s do that again!” And then you do.

As far as we’re concerned, independent, self-supported cycle touring can lead to some of the best experiences a gentle cyclist can have. What do you think? 

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Jamie Wyant is a retired American living in Spain.  After a multifaceted career ranging from ecosystem science to digital marketing, he moved to Valencia in 2017 with his wife, Susan,  and their senior pets.   He writes about the joys and tribulations of living overseas.  Jamie also manages the technical aspects of GentleCycle.net

Comments

  1. Been promoting that concept of “slow down and smell the roses” for nearly 20 years, particularly in a column called “Travel the Gravel”. This ran in a South African Cycling magazine called Ride. Now other previously non-cycling magazines such GO! , Getaway and Country Life all have columns extolling the joy of /promoting the concept of single or small group, off-the beaten -track, scenic cycling. Life is a journey enjoy the ride. it is not about the destination. It is all about getting out, getting about and seeing things. Riding slow allows a pace to talk or be silent to take in the quiet sounds of the county-side, inhale the fresh air, see things you would miss at speed. The title of Lance Armstrong’s book “Every Second Counts” was a marvellous double entendre. The “GO-FAST” boys bought it thinking it would hold a recipe for more speed. Instead he advocated going slower. Cancer taught him that life is short. Enjoy what you can. The older you get the more you realise that being able to take the TIME to simply Be is the most precious, valuable gift on earth. Our journey through life is short enough. Why rush it?

    1. Author

      I think demographics has something to do with the growing popularity of slowing down. So many of us in our 60’s have finally caught on to the notion there’s freedom beyond finish lines.

  2. absolutely. Riding about forty kilometers a day for three weeks, along Western Australia’s Mundabiddi trail with my best mate was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had. A slow pace allows you to really connect with the environment you’re riding through.

    1. Author

      I’ve had my eye on the Munda Biddi trail for a year or more. Aside from the logisitic challenges It looks like an ideal gentle ride.

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