Riding Slow…On Purpose

Many bike rides are focused efforts (most of mine, in fact). Some are specific training rides, some are simply about getting from point A to point B. Sadly, it seems that the more serious one gets about riding the less time the rider spends in the saddle just riding along. All too often time is spent watching average speeds or watts, rather than just watching the trees pass by. I'll even go so far as to say that there may be times when pleasure riding is met with guilt as one considers a potential workout lost. I've felt that feeling of guilt before and after I'd come to my senses I wondered what the hell was the matter with me.

Lets take a moment to think back to some of the old film footage we have seen from some city in Europe where everyone is riding a bike somewhere. None of those people were hanging over their handlebars gasping for air as they pulled every ounce of power they could from their legs. No, they were casually pedaling, looking around. They really looked like they were enjoying themselves. And, they were on machines that were a long way away from the carbon fiber featherweight rigs many of us ride today. Sure, their bikes served as tools to a greater end, but the looks on their faces told me that they loved every mile.

Riding a bicycles isn't meant to be done while constantly looking toward the end of a tough section or top of a climb. Riding is to be enjoyed in the moment, even the hard parts. I say going slow sometimes can be good for the soul. I say, ride with purpose, but ride to enjoy every pedal stroke, ride to see every animal, ride to see what's around every corner, while noticing all that you can along the way.

Laughing with a friend on a ride means it was one of the best rides you've been on. So, before you apologize to your friend about the climb your on by saying "It's all down hill, except for this part" you may want to just want to say, "Isn't this great?"

I encourage you to back of the power every now and then. Enjoy the animals, the trees, and the clouds. Let's not rush through all of our rides; there will be plenty of time for speed at the next race.

This post filed under topics: Bikepacking Mountain Biking Road Sponsored Riders Tim Ek Touring Ultra Racing

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Tim (Eki) Ek

Tim (Eki) Ek

Tim Ek was born and raised in Duluth, Minn., and still calls it home. He’s always had a passion for competition and seeking his own extremes. Tim's true love is the woods: Out in the wild is where he clears his head and finds his peace, and he prefers getting there by bike. Tim Ek: The Eki Chronicles, ekichronicles2.kinetic-fitness.com


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ArkyKenny | February 26th, 2015

Dang right!  When a hummingbird flys with me as I ride so he can check out my red helmet—I’ll remember that.  I also like how good the food tastes, and how my legs feel the next day as I climb the stairs at work.  My average speed: Not even I care about that 5 minutes after I’m done.

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Shawn L. | February 26th, 2015

Thank you for that. Now that I’m not racing anymore and have a family it’s still really hard to slow down.  I stopped useing Stava and other devices because it distracted me from enjoying my ride, why I was on my bike to begin with, have fun. Thanks again.

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Chach | February 26th, 2015

This is why my adventure rides this year will most likely be solo. If it’s not someone being too busy with work, it’s someone too concerned about training time missed. To each their own, but thanks for the reminder that we don’t have to follow the crowd, and to realize there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

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chach | February 26th, 2015

lol, reminds me of how I used to sometimes ride down Queen St West in Toronto (a mostly level urban road with lots to look at), pushing my peddle down for half strokes, and then raising it up again. Seeing how slow I could actually go without losing balance. Just enjoying the sun and watching the people out and about.

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Steve Reynolds | February 26th, 2015


That’s Awesome!
I am riding the Great Divide this august and that is exactly my plan.
I am new to bike packing and someone who use to do a lot of backpacking with my wife when we were younger.  I decided it is time for a all pro adventure now that my children are adults (one left a junior in High school) it has been too long.

I am in no hurry to ride on this epic route and enjoy all it has to offer.
(with my Salsa Fargo 2 ) i might add.

Being in the moment is how one should live their life.

When the animals were asked what time is is?  they laughed and said the time is NOW!!

Thanks again

Steve Reynolds

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Steve | February 26th, 2015

I’m a slow cyclist for many reasons including age, bicycle type, and preference.  I’ve never raced; though I certainly don’t begrudge those who do.  Heck, none of my bikes have a speedometer/odometer and I’ve yet to use that Strava app on my phone.  I like to call my favorite rides “nature rides” (a knock off on the concept of nature walks) where I just sort of saunter along, look around, and enjoy seeing and hearing what I would ordinarily miss if my main goal would have been to go from point A to point B as fast as I can.  I find nature rides imminently satisfying and relaxing.

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Kenn | March 2nd, 2015

Great advice Tim, thank you. I’m sure many people applaud your writing. I’ve always had a competitive spirit, riding with a purpose is how I ride. I love it, it makes me feel so good to see measured success. Most rides I’m with the love of my life and best friend. We ride very well together, always able to encourage one or the other to hold a particular pace. We laugh about it as some uncontrollable ability to change the way we ride. We don’t race, never have. When you say ride with a purpose, that is the best way to explain how we ride. Since taking up sport touring with a group of 6 I have enjoyed another facet to biking like never before. We laugh and enjoy so many things as we are biking and traveling together, traveling at our touring speed allows me to see and appreciate so much more to everything you are speaking about. It’s all good to my soul.

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Lus | March 2nd, 2015

Thanks for the inspiring read.

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KT | March 31st, 2015

Thanks for reminding me once again why I ride. a friend of mine has been bragging about his latest “lighter than air” bike purchase and how fast he can go. My thinking is….why go faster? Your ride ends quicker then, doesn’t it? I see my LBS fly by with their Monday night peloton and I wonder if it’s worth a shot to try. But then I am reminded again that my ride is MY ride. The only time of day where work, family, and life’s struggles can’t reach me. Nothing greater than seeing the sunrise while biking on a country road. Where the only sounds you hear are the birds chirping and the fluid sound a a chain running smoothly. He who travels fastest who travels alone!

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JimH | April 24th, 2015

Great post. 

I like to keep things balanced.  I enjoy a nice slow ride with friends and family, taking in the scenery and enjoying the day.  But I also enjoy the feeling (and health benefits) of getting my heart rate up by pushing myself up a big hill, or pushing a little extra hard on my commute (the scenery there isn’t much to enjoy). 

There is room and time in my cycling for both kinds of riding.

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erin carroll | May 9th, 2015

I’m so glad there are others out there with the same ethos towards bikepacking as me! Ride for fun and for the moment and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing!

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