August 18, 2013

The Slow Bicycle Movement.

"Participants say slower riding is a backlash to today's hard-core fitness world, brimming with boot camps and mud runs."
Average cycling speeds are hard to figure since bikes differ widely. But Ms. Peterson's group in Alabama says its riders mosey along at the low end of a range of 8 to 10 miles an hour. Over in Huntsville, Ala., the Spring City Cycling Club's "steady-pace fat-burning ride" touts an average pace of 15-17 mph...
I'm interested to see that I've been part of a movement these last 4 years.

24 comments:

Henry said...

As a dedicated transportation bicyclist -- I bike to go places -- I've wondered about the next level. What is the trigger that causes a bicyclist to buy spandex?

Carl said...

What is the trigger that causes a bicyclist to buy spandex?

A ride long enough for your underwear or shorts seam to put what feels like a permanent crease in your ass.

AlanKH said...

I've always been slow on a bicycle.

The Elder said...

That's easy. The mistaken belief that they look good in it.

Terry said...

I ride long distances up slopes that have grades between 3% and 6%. If I can average 4.5 mph I think I am doing okay.
A ten mile ride with a 3% grade is a vertical climb of 1584 feet.

surfed said...

My girl and I have Beach Cruisers that we leisurely peddle through our wonderful by the St Johns river neighborhood. No Gears. Strictly 1940's technology and design. I doubt if we ever get above 10mph...usually averaging about 5mph. And the best part? No dorky Obama bike helmets. Bike riding as Providence intended it to be - slow and stately with eye to catching the scenery.

Paco Wové said...

"What is the trigger that causes a bicyclist to buy spandex?"

Speaking only for myself, it was the total loss of sensation in me manly bits after a 6-mile ride.

Sorry for the TMI, but you asked.

bpm4532 said...

where's the slow-thinker's club - not dumb folks, but people who carefully consider things? Read things? Apply the "and/or" logic in the words before taking action? You know, actions like voting?

Dan from Madison said...

Henry - I use cycling as my workout, and it is my hobby. If you want to go far/fast, you need the right clothing, and that is lycra/spandex. Just as you wouldn't go running with your loafers, you can't really exercise to a certain level unless you get the proper equipment.

I am not saying you can't get exercise and enjoyment on a bike without lycra - far from it. But at a certain point, if you want to do a lot of miles and/or if you want to get a good sweat on, you just need the proper gear.

Henry said...

@Dan -- I get it. But I'm also amused by the tribe of non-fast/non-far spandex wearers.

Henry said...

@Paco -- And spandex fixes that? There's a marketing campaign in embryo.

Seriously, I thought numbness was more a seat issue than a pants issue.

* * *

Doing the math -- I ride 5 miles each morning and evening in about 25 minutes each way. That's an average of 12 miles an hour. It is a ridiculously level 5 miles.

Ann Althouse said...

"Just as you wouldn't go running with your loafers, you can't really exercise to a certain level unless you get the proper equipment.I am not saying you can't get exercise and enjoyment on a bike without lycra - far from it. But at a certain point, if you want to do a lot of miles and/or if you want to get a good sweat on, you just need the proper gear."

Wouldn't clothing that creates wind drag make it a tougher workout? Unless you are racing what does slick-surfaced clothing have to do with the quality of your workout? It's not like having proper running shoes when you are running, where you have to protect your feet from the impact against the ground. Lycra isn't protecting your thighs from the impact of the wind, just reducing drag.

I understand the male genital numbness problem, but that justifies the use of an underlayer with that padding between your legs. You can have more normal looking shorts over top of that, and that is in fact the normal "gear" that mountain bike racers wear.

Ann Althouse said...

(Maybe not racers... but mountain bikers... I think. Anyway, that's what I see Meade wearing.)

MadisonMan said...

My brother was a hard-core biker, and all his spandex'ed shorts looked like actual shorts, with a spandex/lycra lining. (He had at least 2 dozen...what a pack rat!!)

I have a single-gear bike. So of course I go slowly. To go fast is to look ridiculous pedaling.

Too many bikers in Madison look like ten pounds of sugar in a five-pound sack.

MadisonMan said...

And don't get me started (too late) on people who bike in matching outfits. Puke.

We were watching the half-marathon Sunday down on Allen, and two sets of runners ran by in matching outfits. One set was -- I think -- twins, and the outfits weren't identical, but the same one, but different colors. The other set was two people running in identical outfits, side by side. I'm guessing they weren't strangers who happened to meet at the start, see they coordinated, and decided to run together (although that would make an interesting movie).

Paco Wové said...

Henry - works for me. Although the seat definitely plays a role as well (no squishy seats!)

I admit I am vain enough that I always, always, always wear a pair of baggy regular shorts over the bike shorts, because I don't want to look like one of those middle-aged guys in bike shorts.

Dan from Madison said...

"Wouldn't clothing that creates wind drag make it a tougher workout?" Yes.

"Unless you are racing what does slick-surfaced clothing have to do with the quality of your workout?" If you enjoy distance cycling as a hobby or for racing, standard shorts are simply a non starter as you will chafe like crazy. The longer the ride, typically the better the workout.

"It's not like having proper running shoes when you are running, where you have to protect your feet from the impact against the ground. Lycra isn't protecting your thighs from the impact of the wind, just reducing drag." Lycra shorts make it possible to go longer distances re the comfort reason listed above. Also, they have modern wicking systems, which make them much more feasible when you begin to sweat. I have cycled over the mountains in the Pyrenees, and (for me) it would be impossible without lycra shorts. In the old days it was common for racing cyclists to have infections and saddle sores "down there", pre lycra.

"I understand the male genital numbness problem, but that justifies the use of an underlayer with that padding between your legs." Lycra cycling shorts have padding in the genital/behind area. Female cycling shorts have the same thing - padding for the bottom.

"You can have more normal looking shorts over top of that, and that is in fact the normal "gear" that mountain bike racers wear." Correct. However there are issues with mountain cycling that do not exist in road cycling. Yes, the two sports take place on bicycles, but the equipment is completely different and this is like comparing apples and oranges. I am not saying that you can't take a mountain bike on a road (you can, of course) but it is highly advisable not to take a road bike on a mountain type path.

Molly said...

I've been riding an hour or two a day this summer with my dog on a leash along side. I'd guess we average 4-5 miles an hour. Mostly the dog is at a fast walking pace, but occasionally we get into a running pace, though never his full out -- chase the other dogs -- pace. enough exercise so that the dog is so nicely behaved at home, you can't imagine.

Christopher said...

It's largely a matter of style and group identification. Well made lycra is indeed wonderful for long fast rides, but you don't need to look like a sausage to be effective except perhaps at the very tip top of performance. When I got back into biking I went straight for the mountain bike look (see, I succumb to group ID too) even though most of my riding is roadie. So for long rides I either wear the mountain bike shorts (which are much more useful with pockets) or regular shorts with padded underwear. I go plenty fast and far when I want to in those duds and it works great.

Very few adult bikers look good in the tight lycra (biking, as one's sole exercise routine, is narrowly focused in its benefits, and attractive body-shaping is not one of them).

Dan from Madison said...

One more item - every single person is constructed differently - a bike shop owner once told me that it didn't get any more personal than one's bike seat. This goes for clothing as well. Clothing that works for a certain person may not work for others.

Clare King said...

I participate in a weekly "Stop and Smell the Roses Ride" in Mobile, Alabama.

We all appreciate the congeniality that the 10-12 MPH pace allows us.

Carl said...

Lycra isn't protecting your thighs from the impact of the wind, just reducing drag.

That is not the case. Wind drag on a bicycle is almost entirely a question of frontal surface area and to some extent front surface geometry, which explains Maes bars and the triathlon extensions you see these days. The laminar friction on the skin is completely unimportant at these high Reynolds numbers. (Maybe you are thinking of yacht racing, where skin friction does matter.)

The purpose of synthetic skintight fabrics is to eliminate seams, wick away perspiration, and minimize skin/clothing movement, all of which lead directly to saddle sores, chafing, rashes and opportunistic skin infection. As a rule, it has nothing to do with the speed of cycling, but rather your ability to ride long distances frequently.

In that sense, such clothing is like good (training) running shoes: the idea is to protect your body so you can train at long distances frequently. If (for example) you ran in your race flats all the time, you wouldn't be able to train as often. There's no comparable for biking, because there isn't "race" biking clothing that is less comfortable but faster.

Michael The Magnificent said...

What is the trigger that causes a bicyclist to buy spandex?

I can't speak (type?) for anyone else, but when I first started riding every day the weather permitted, I wore cotton athletic shorts over cotton underwear, with a cotton tee shirt.

All that cotton would get damp with sweat rather quickly, and hold on to the dampness. The shorts would frequently creep up and bunch up, which wasn't comfortable. After a few days, my rear end was sore due to lack of padding. After a week of riding in damp shorts, the chafing began.

Enter my first pair of spandex shorts. They had padding for comfort, wicked away the sweat so they kept me both dry and cooler, and the skin hugging nature moved the point of friction from between my shorts and my skin, to between my shorts and the seat.

They may look silly, but the sillyness is endured for the functionality.

Skyler said...

Theres a man who looks about 90 years old who rides his bike around the neighborhood at a speed of about half a mile per hour. It's agonizing to watch, but he seems fairly steady considering his speed.