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