No Sweat

I’m a slow walker, a lolly-gagger. I’m content to walk along at whatever pace is comfortable and sustainable indefinitely. I don’t like fast walking. Fast walking is too much like jogging, and jogging is one of my least favorite things. I prefer strolling. Strolling is restorative and refreshing. Strolling fosters contemplation and conversation. Strolling is good for the body and the mind. Strolling doesn’t make you sweat.

Put me on a bike though, and I have a real tendency to go like hell. I’ve done it for years. When I was a kid, I putzed around on my bike all summer long, roaming all over the countryside and rarely breaking a sweat, but somewhere along the way, things went horribly askew. I think it started when I bought my first roadie bike and full team kit back around 1980. You have this racy bike, these hand-made Italian cycling shoes, this full Campy grouppo, this pro looking wool jersey, and a bevy of steely-eyed friends that are all intent on dusting you… what else are you gonna’ do? After awhile, riding hard and fast turns into the default mode. After years of doing it, you completely lose all muscle memory of how to ride a bike without a grimace on your face. The idea of riding a bike in a relaxed manner, and God forbid, maybe even doing it without breaking a sweat, doesn’t even enter your mind. It’s a terrible old habit, and as they say, old habits die hard.

I’m not a person that likes to offend others with, shall we say, personal aromas, so I’m having to re-learn how to ride slow and easy.

But here’s the thing. I’m now riding my bikes for transportation nearly full-time, which means I’m mostly riding in street clothes and going places where I need to interact with others in those same clothes. I’m not a person that likes to offend others with, shall we say, personal aromas, so I’m having to re-learn how to ride slow and easy. You’d think this would be a simple thing — riding slow — but damn, it’s super-hard to ride slow enough to avoid stinking up your street clothes.

So what I’m trying to do is adopt the mindset of the stroll and port it over to the bike. It’s a strange and foreign concept to me, riding slower than as-fast-as-you-possibly-can, slow enough to keep the heart rate down and the perspiration at bay. As ridiculous as it sounds, it requires considerable concentration for an ex-roadie like me. Often, I let my mind wander and the next thing I know I’m falling back into the old habits, pushing hard up a rise, or jumping on it through an intersection. But when it works, when I’m able to overcome my programming from 30 years of hard riding, I kind of like this “new” old way of riding, this slow and easy, no-sweat way of getting around.

3 Responses to “No Sweat”

  • Jose says:

    Hello!. I am a reader of yours since spain. Do you can not reach sweating? Is not it stressful?

    And a question. How many kilometres travelled in a normal route, 20 km, 30 km?

    Thank you

  • Phil says:

    I went from triathlons (and not very good at them, either) to commuting. You are right, it can be difficult to just poke along. I still have friends who have the high end roadie bikes with all the accompanying regalia. And there I am in street clothes – a business suit during the week – riding my bent trike. Yet, at the end of the ride to work, I am relaxed and, unlike when I was constantly in the “training mind set,” enjoying the world around me. It is a meditation in every sense of the word. Of course, I live in a small town and don’t have some of the traffic issues I had when I commuted in West LA. But even in LA I would find moments on a side street when I could enjoy a morning breeze. And side streets are OK because I’m not trying to beat a certain time – just trying to get through safely with some enjoyment.

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