There are moments when I do this to myself purposefully, intending from the start to go a particular distance in "x" amount of time. I think it's good, at least from time to time, to see what I am capable of accomplishing, otherwise I tend to always think that I am only capable of slow speeds.
Most of the time I am perfectly content to ride at my slug pace. I just find it more enjoyable to take things in on a bicycle than to race by everything, but on some of these trips, I find myself - often just for a brief moment - sparked by some outside happening to speed up. It could be a variety of triggers from an ill-behaved motorist to another cyclist far enough ahead of me that I think I can catch. Neither of these is necessarily always a motivator, but given the right set of circumstances, I can find myself in crush-it mode, wanting to out pedal anyone in my path.
A couple of weeks ago, I experienced one such moment. I was out on what was supposed to be a meandering ride, to test out some changes to a bike and just enjoy being in the outdoors. I had been perfectly content, pedaling along, singing a song (mostly in my head, but occasionally out loud), enjoying the ride. My pace was slow, but I really didn't have any concern about such things and instead wanted to get a good feel for some different bits on the bicycle I was riding. In fact, the Garmin was only attached to the handlebars because I wanted to know what distance I'd traveled with the tested parts.
At one point, I came to a junction on my path that would allow me to continue along on a bit longer journey or to turn in a direction to take me home. The day was running late and I had some other things to accomplish so I made the decision to head in the direction that would take me home quicker.
As I rode, I still had no concern about speed. My pace was comfortable and I was enjoying. No sooner was I thinking these thoughts when a gentleman on a race bike came tearing past me. On the right day, this may have been a motivator to get me to chase him (not that I would have caught him), but today, I was perfectly content. I smiled as he whipped by and I continued to move forward.
A couple of moments later, I could hear another cyclist coming up behind me. It was a different sound though. It wasn't the whirring of race wheels, but rather the sound of something perhaps a little clunkier, older, or in need of some TLC.
The sound was pretty close before I took notice because I was now pedaling beside motorists who were traveling at 60-65mph/96-105kph, but I could definitely hear that the person on a bicycle approaching was on a different sort of ride.
At this point, my pace had picked up. The road was flat and there was no need for me to pedal at a slower speed. When I looked down, the Garmin indicated I was traveling at about 19.5mph/31kph. As I looked up to the road in front of me, the bicycle I'd heard approaching came past quite swiftly.
|*Image found here|
As the rider and his squeaky bicycle rolled by, I realized I simply couldn't allow him to pass me without putting in a bit more effort.
I picked up the pace, wanting partially to get a better look at this bike, but also realizing that it seemed a tad unacceptable that I was on a machine most would consider far better suited for this type of travel, and yet I had allowed him to roll by without much thought.
About 1/2 of a mile down the road, I caught up to him (which should also indicate how fast he was pedaling). I could see that he was spinning well, and I was frankly surprised he was able to keep up this sort of speed for such a stretch of road. I have ridden similar bikes and I know there's no human way I would have ever been consistently traveling these speeds. At this point, we were pedaling at around 25mph/40kph.
His wheels continued to squeak and the whole bike was making noise, but I was absolutely fascinated by this entire moment.
As I lagged behind him for a bit, I checked out the rusty wheels, the chain in need of lube, the paint bubbling in many places from the surface of a frame that had likely seen much better days. There was something about this entire situation that made me smile; it simply made me happy.
When I pedaled by, I knew it would be difficult to have a conversation because of all the motorized traffic beside us, but I felt the need to say something. "You have quite an efficient cadence going on that bike," is what came out of my mouth. I have no idea if he actually heard me or not, but he laughed a bit and smiled.
I continued on my journey, still several miles from home, with a huge, ridiculous smile on my face. I have no idea where the rider was headed or what he was doing that day, but he certainly seemed to be on a mission. And for me, what better bike-riding moment than an opportunity to see a bicycle some might discard being used not just for a quick jaunt to the corner store, but rather being utilized on a highway for longer distance needs.
What sort of cycling treasures have you found on the roadways? Would or do you use a bicycle that others might see as unsuitable or not ideal for the type of riding you do? Feel free to share. As always, happy weekend riding to all (and a long weekend for those in the US!).