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Having ridden in every Los Angeles Marathon Bike Tour since it's inception in 1995, this year we took it slow and took in the sights. Arriving to the coliseum late we found ourselves more or less in the back of the pack. This eliminated the option of a fast start; later on the decision to go slow was made by choice. Thus, for the first time we did the Los Angeles Marathon Bike Tour as the "tour" it was designed to be rather than as a workout. In the Zen tradition getting there was not as important as the way we did it.
Going slow on a bike makes you realize that the slower you go the more you see. One of the arguments for riding a bike instead of driving a car is that you can actually see the sights because you are going slow enough to appreciate them if you want to. It should follow then that riding a bike slowly allows an increased appreciation of your surrounds over riding a bike fast. And you know what? It does.
Going slow makes you aware of the myriad of bikers that are passing you. They aren't moving obstacles, they're people; and they're riding bikes of every description - unicycles, boneshakers, mountain bikes, reclining bikes, touring bikes, racing bikes, balloon-tired oldies, two and three rider bikes; and they are all passing you as you amble along at a snail's pace. The changing neighborhoods become distinct rather than blurring as they do when you are trying to get to the end of the course as fast as possible. You really are aware of L.A.'s diversity when you are riding slowly; you can actually make eye-contact with people along the way who come out to cheer the cyclists on. And you can savor what it feels like to ride through the city without the presence of cars.
So it's a different kind of experience this going slow. Not being a part of the slip stream gives me an idea - what about a book on the "The Zen of Slow Cycling"?
©1999 Gary Fisher
The 1996 Los Angeles Marathon Bike Tour II (with reference to 1995 Tour I)
The 1997 Los Angeles Marathon Bike Tour III
The 1998 Los Angeles Marathon Bike Tour IV
The 2000 Los Angeles Marathon Bike Tour VI
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