Everyone wins when the pace slows down to encourage and strengthen friendship.
For some people it’s only a ‘real’ ride if you sweat your eyeballs out, feel your heart pound in your throat, and feel exhausted at the end of the day. If there’s competition involved, so much the better. Someone wins, which implies that someone else is left behind.
I’ll admit there are times when I enjoy pushing myself, stretching my limits, legs, and lungs. And I dearly love beating other riders up a hill. But I also find great value in what is sometimes referred to as the Social or Conversational Ride.
To me, riding at a Social pace means you can carry on a conversation that goes deeper than a gasp. You’re actually trying to ride with your friends — rather than leave them in the dust. It’s a very different orientation and I recommend adding it to your riding routine. If you’re a really fast rider, think of it as a recovery day.
I recently went out with two friends who haven’t spent much time mountain biking this season. Nancy is an avid downhill skier who can out-ski me any day of the week. She’s been too busy playing in powder to spend much time on her bike this year. My other friend is a full-time professional whose work and travel schedule leave little room for riding. Our ride would be Jane’s third mountain bike ride of the season.
We planned a mountain bike ride according to Jane’s preferences. She chose the route and set the pace. We wanted to make certain she felt successful. It was fantastic.
The three of us ambled along at a relaxed yet respectable pace, raising such a ruckus about local politics that a rider who’d stopped alongside the trail threw in his two cents worth in approval. It was grand.
Jane caught us up on her latest overseas trip and we made plans for Easter dinner. At the same time, we got some exercise and took in the scenery. The conversation was so lively, the miles flew by.
At the top of Vomit Hill (a segment of Kent’s Trail), so named by the Bend Bella Cycling Club. Snow flurries turned into a whirling blizzard, encouraging us to quickly catch our breath and move on before we froze into place.
We enjoyed a brisk downhill and finished the ride with wide smiles. This was a day of small triumphs: Nancy conquered Vomit Hill, Jane improved her endurance, and I enjoyed the company of good friends while not overdoing it with a sprained hamstring.
Unlike the faster rides where perhaps one group feels they have ‘won’, while another segment has been bested (if not beaten), we all felt equally successful. We caught up on each others’ lives and strengthened not just our muscles, but our friendship. On days like these, slowing down brings its own rewards.