The other day I was riding through town, and I noticed that I was making unusually heavy use of both my shifters and my brakes. I thought to myself, "Man, I don't drive my car like this. Why am I biking like this? I should relax."
And so I did. I settled into a generally managable gear and remained there for most of the remainder of the ride. I paid attention to the lights, planned ahead, adjusted my pace where neccessary, and generally used my brakes less.
And I found myself thoroughly enjoying my ride.
This lead me to a large insight, similar to the one I had when I discovered that pedaling hard and fast the whole way to work got me there sweaty, and only about four minutes earlier than pedaling at a slower, more reasonable, get-to-work-without-getting-all-sweaty pace.
My insights into what is for "better riding" seem to be leading me towards riding slower and smarter. Or, to borrow from Pirsig, when focusing on making Good Time, to focus on the good, and not time.
So my rules for good riding seem to be this.
1. Shift less.
2. Brake less.
My original insight into slowing down and not trying to sprint to your destination doesn't have to be explicitely mentioned, because you'll have to anyway while observing these rules. Observing these rules allowed me to make my "No Foot Down" ride Saturday morning.
So if shifting less and braking less makes for a better ride, then is it true that, once you're ready for it, single-speed, fixed-gear bikes, bynot allowingfor shifting or, optionally, braking,make for the best rides?
I have traditionally balked at the thought of riding a fixie, but am now considering it. There is, I admit, something very appealing about a bicycle stripped down to it's most basic and pure form. I get that.
I couldn't be convinced to give up my Schwinn for commuting and for long rides, but I believe I could be convinced to take up a fixie for joy-rides around town.