Slow Cycling

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
glueman
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Slow Cycling

Postby glueman » 26 May 2009, 8:12pm

CJs article made perfect sense to me but I noted a lot of flak elsewhere with terms like 'middle class' being thrown in the mix. To be fair I've been banging a similar drum for years - that cycling is sport dominated in this country to its detriment in numbers.
Like slow food and other slow movements I think the British public just don't get it.

adinigel
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Re: Slow Cycling

Postby adinigel » 26 May 2009, 8:19pm

glueman wrote:CJs article made perfect sense to me but I noted a lot of flak elsewhere with terms like 'middle class' being thrown in the mix. To be fair I've been banging a similar drum for years - that cycling is sport dominated in this country to its detriment in numbers.


Must get round to reading teh article. How on earth can the term 'middle class' be worked in? I agree that cycling appears very sport dominated, but then success in a particular sport can really swell the number of people participating even if they aren't particularly good at the particular sport.

glueman wrote:Like slow food and other slow movements I think the British public just don't get it.


Slow movements? Hey there's nothing wrong with a quick s**t! Oh! Sorry, wrong meaning! :oops:

Nigel :D
DSA registered Driving Instructor, RoSPA Diploma in Advanced Car Instruction, SAFED registered van trainer, National Standards Cycling Instructor

glueman
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Re: Slow Cycling

Postby glueman » 26 May 2009, 8:29pm

I think the middle class thing comes from a paranoia about being lectured or condescended to. As ever one finds oneself qualifying what shouldn't need to be said, that it's okay to go fast, wear lycra, race, yadda, yadda but wearing Superman's clothes and a sweaty grimace won't get Mr and Mrs Normal out of their hatchback.
Like sitting down for lunch around a table with family or friends, taking as long as it takes to get 'there' is a thing we Brits have been weened off for so long we now prefer the stressed version because we can't imagine anything else. Slow is about proritising what's important in life, not endlessly playing catch up.

workhard

Re: Slow Cycling

Postby workhard » 26 May 2009, 9:00pm

glueman wrote:I think the middle class thing comes from a paranoia about being lectured or condescended to. As ever one finds oneself qualifying what shouldn't need to be said, that it's okay to go fast, wear lycra, race, yadda, yadda but wearing Superman's clothes and a sweaty grimace won't get Mr and Mrs Normal out of their hatchback.
Like sitting down for lunch around a table with family or friends, taking as long as it takes to get 'there' is a thing we Brits have been weened off for so long we now prefer the stressed version because we can't imagine anything else. Slow is about proritising what's important in life, not endlessly playing catch up.


maybe the article missed a point; riding the bike you already have in the clothes you already own, but instead a lot of it focussed on getting the 'right' bike to go slow on; and I suspect only "middle class" urban professionals, or dutch immigrants ime, will have the necessary to splash the amount of cash needed for most of the bikes profiled.

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braz
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Re: Slow Cycling

Postby braz » 26 May 2009, 9:07pm

I always regard myself as Middle Class, as do my butler and gardener..............

regards to all, Braz.

glueman
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Re: Slow Cycling

Postby glueman » 26 May 2009, 9:11pm

workhard wrote: instead a lot of it focussed on getting the 'right' bike to go slow on; and I suspect only "middle class" urban professionals, or dutch immigrants ime, will have the necessary to splash the amount of cash needed for most of the bikes profiled.

That, I certainly agree with.

It seemed at times as though the article was a hook to hang a review of sit up and beg bikes on, rather than the ride what you own philosophy. You could as easily slow bike on a 70s 'racer' or a suspension hybrid as a 1950s district nurse's bike, delightful as they are.
Still, if the fashion for bikes that resemble youthful reminiscences of the one Uncle George rode to the allotment on kick start people into wanting George's slower life style, who's to argue?

workhard

Re: Slow Cycling

Postby workhard » 26 May 2009, 9:27pm

and not very good sit up and begs at that (in one case) though I'd like a priests bike if my premium bonds come up. but sure a case of preaching to the converted surely. Joe and Jane Hatchback are scarcely likely to be reading Cycling. but where else to publish, the cycling section of the sunday Times seems to be in the motoring part. ye gods.

glueman
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Re: Slow Cycling

Postby glueman » 26 May 2009, 9:37pm

workhard wrote:Joe and Jane Hatchback are scarcely likely to be reading Cycling.

True but they may see someone in a suit or a skirt on a bike and think 'I could do that.'

gbnz
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Re: Slow Cycling

Postby gbnz » 26 May 2009, 11:26pm

glueman wrote:True but they may see someone in a suit or a skirt on a bike and think 'I could do that.'


Well surely that's the sort of situation most cyclists wish to avoid. It's ok with people of that sort being encouraged onto urban cycle paths for their nominal cycling journeys, but it'd be fairly dreadful if they actually made it out to me :P

thirdcrank
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Re: Slow Cycling

Postby thirdcrank » 27 May 2009, 7:59am

One problem with modern clothing is that a lot of it is not made for cycling. When you see those pictures of Edwardians doing everything in a suit, it was made of a lot heavier grade of cloth. When a new one was bought - and I've no idea how often that happened - it was kept for Sunday best and that displaced another down the hierarchy. It was common for people to have suits made with plus fours, breeches etc., because they were practical for a lot of activities like riding horses and bikes. If somebody turned up a bit rumpled because of their mode of transport, it was not assumed they were trying to form a protest movement. Some of this - but not the plusses - persisted right up to the swinging 60's. Cycling is not the only activity by any means where increasing affluence etc has led to specialist togs for different activities. On a fairly recent anniversary of the opening of the first stretch of the M1, they had some library newsreel footage showing that even as the opening ceremony was being performed, there was a small gang of navvies working on the first set of emergency repairs. Suits rather than hi-viz togs and at least one of them was wearing a heavy tweed overcoat. OTOH, jeans, which were originally bombproof American overalls for cowboys, are now often so expensive and flimsy that they are useless for anything but posing.

Ride to work in a modern lightweight suit, especially in a bit of rain and it would be ruined. And there's a similar story about footwear. One problem with Wallace the Lion eating Albert, was they'd "just 'ad 'is boots soled an' 'eeled." :wink:

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Mick F
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Re: Slow Cycling

Postby Mick F » 27 May 2009, 9:25am

Class used to be:
Working Class
Middle Class
Upper Class

The Middle Class were professionals. Doctors, Bank Managers, Business Owners, people of "independent income". Most people were Working Class, and proud to be so.

The trouble is, the class structure is totally differently perceived now, due to the American ideas on class, or lack thereof. Most people are now "of the middle classes" - note the plural. Middle Class is now people from Middle England. The Working Class has disappeared - nobody wants to be described as such, aspiring upwards since the Yuppie generation of the 1980s. We all think of ourselves as Middle, or Mr and Mrs Average. No such thing.

A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Si
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Re: Slow Cycling

Postby Si » 27 May 2009, 9:29am

I liked the article in many ways, but, as others have pointed out, with those two review bikes and the concentration upon only one type of bike for the job, it did come across as yet another marketing idea to flog a new type of bike. e.g. fixies and the urbanwarrior experience is so last year, this year anyone who is anyone has to have a Dutch style bike and look like a clean cut upwardly mobile bright young thing :wink:

Might have been better if there was a bit about upgrading all other types of bike to be able to "slow cycle" on, rather than the inference from the examples listed that we all need to rush out and buy yet another type of bike (does anyone remember the days when one bike could do everything?).

It also appears that on at lest one "other place" that glueman refers to, a number of people might be a little scared of that type of riding as they think it unsafe not to be zooming along at a speed similar to the motorised traffic around them. I have to admit to this myself - I feel much safer when going at speed, yet I see slow cyclists everyday who are doing fine at their pootle - must be just a head thing.

But slow cycling probably wouldn't work for my commute when all is said and done. Sure I could go slow, but that would mean wasting an hour of working time. Furthermore, 'cos I don't lie in London, Cambridge, Oxford, etc the wearing of every day clothes doesn't work so well as the hills between me and the office world mean getting them sweaty even if I tried to go at a much reduced speed. Instead I go for bike/walking clothes that look like every day clothes (but cost a bit more).

Despite all of that, credit to CJ for an interesting article that, unlike certain magazines, suggested that maybe speed wasn't the be-all and end-all of cycling! Also credit for to the reviewers for (again, unlike certain other mags) giving a fair reflection of the abilities of a test bike - nice to see them be honest enough to state that a bike is rubbish.

glueman
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Re: Slow Cycling

Postby glueman » 27 May 2009, 9:30am

If cyclists slowed down there'd be a number of benefits. Car drivers wouldn't see all riders as natural athletes to be competed with for space but would develop more realistic expectations of us on the highway. Urban cyclists are endlessly racing against large capacity engines - why? It's a battle they'll never win unless the road ahead is blocked and if it is they can pootle on and filter down the side anyway.

Road layouts such as roundabouts are actually designed to be competitive situations, not bad if you are fit and young with hair-trigger responses but easy riders are going to be cannon fodder until motorists expect them to negotiate the traffic island at a natural pace. At present they're likely to get 10 seconds of hand on horn if they try it because drivers are conditioned to see such junctions as a get-out-of-my-way scenario.
As the article pointed out not every cycling destination is a blast of exercise and a shower at the end location - the movies, the supermarket. What if we're going somewhere that requires us to be smart for the next three hours? It's fine for cyclists to see riding as an activity where they get their blast of exercise but that's very much a modern, health-minded outlook and if perceived as the norm excludes the majority of the population from biking as simple transport.

pigman
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Re: Slow Cycling

Postby pigman » 27 May 2009, 9:49am

glueman wrote: .... we now prefer the stressed version because we can't imagine anything else. Slow is about proritising what's important in life, not endlessly playing catch up.


I fear I'm missing the point of this slow cycling movement. Nothing wrong with those who just happen to be slower, but purposely trying to go slow would be the stressed version for me. There's no better feeling than being one with the bike, pressing on, taking full advantage of its mechanical efficiency and getting a feelgood factor from the workout. To me it seems a tad perverse having a machine that can cruise at 20mph and is probably the most efficient mode of transport to purposely stifle its capabilities to make a show that I'm not stressed. Whilst I'm not a turbotraining, carbon riding, heartrate-monitored racer, I find the physical aspect in itself stress relieving.
Imagine having a standard car (capable of doing 100mph). Youre on a empty motorway and can easily average 60-70mph. you choose to take a stance that suggests "Slow is the way" and chug along at 30mph. How stressful would that be?

however, if I do want to take time to see nature close at hand, chat to people, pop into shops etc, then a good pair of walking shoes/boots does it for me.

glueman
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Re: Slow Cycling

Postby glueman » 27 May 2009, 10:08am

pigman wrote:
I fear I'm missing the point of this slow cycling movement.


I fear you are. If everyone rode bicycles the average speed of cyclists would be nearer 7mph than 14-20mph. So far as I can tell the movement is about integrating cycling in to your life in a non-enthusiastic sense so that riding isn't perceived as a branch of sport or keep-fit but an entirely normal human activity everyone can do.
The wider slow movement is to do with reclaiming your life from the apparent tyrrany of deadlines and shaping it as far as possible in a way you want to live, appreciating the small things and not being duped by fast goals that are mostly illusory. We're a pretty neurotic society if you look at it and could do with a large dose of slow.