Slow Down, Enjoy
Every now and then I need a reminder that there is more to riding your bicycle than pedaling.
On vacation at Lake Tahoe, I rolled out of the campground at Fallen Leaf Lake for a ride. As I began pedaling up a gentle climb toward a waterfall, I noticed a couple walking along the side of the road. She paused to take a photo of some flowers alongside a rustic, wooden fence. He was picking up garbage and putting it into a bag.
“Thanks for picking up the trash!” I said, offering encouragement. So often we never see the individuals responsible for keeping our wonderful views, well, uncluttered.
As I pedaled on, I heard him yell.
“BIKE FRIDAY!” he shouted, “we have Bike Fridays!”
I spun my Pocket Llama around and went back. They were Bike Friday owners from the Bay Area, up and vacationing in Tahoe. I actually met them last October at the Biketoberfest Celebration in Fairfax, California.
We struck up a conversation and talked of all things Bike Friday for more than 20 minutes. Eventually I rode on.
I’ve been thinking about that chance encounter a lot during my morning commute. I see all sorts of riders roll past.
I’m always struck by the ones who have their heads down, and are cranking full speed.
Now, I have nothing against someone who wants to ride fast. Those individuals of that ilk paid my salary for years as a journalist covering cycling. Yes, you can make a living cycling fast.
Then I also remember one of the first major events I went to, and how a novice reporter asked Frankie Andreu about riding in the Tour de France. It must be wonderful, the reporter said, riding through the beautiful fields and backroads of France.
Frankie, never one to mince words, said [I’ll paraphrase for family audience purposes], “Well, actually, in the Tour you spend 99 percent of the time looking at the [rear end] of the guy in front of you.”
Imagine that view for three weeks. 2700 miles. Fun?
I opt for a slower speed. One that allows you to stop, and savor.
The past few mornings I’ve counted cyclists. It comes out to an average of one a minute that see while riding to work in Eugene.
When I stopped this morning to take the photo above, three sunflowers popping up in a wetlands with some ducks swimming behind, I wondered how many would stop to take a photo? How many even pause to look around to catch something like this?
It’s funny. Some of my most memorable moments on a bike are not ones that make my heart beat faster. It’s those that slow it down a bit. Just enough to savor life.