Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Average Speed Is Depressing

One of the things features I've been enjoying about my green bike is it's lack of a cycle computer. At first I was saying that I hadn't gotten around to adding a cycle computer to the bike but soon I realized that I was really enjoying not worrying about how fast I was going. I still wear a watch and I know the distances of most of my local rides. And thanks to things like Google Maps and Bikely, I can found out exactly how far I've gone if I care about such things.

A while back I read this great post by Mark Stosberg where he notes that most cars, with all their gadgetry, tend not to have the average speed function. You can read his post and download his True MPH calculator here:

Mark's conclusion, which I agree with, is that cars don't have the average speed calculation because it's depressing. If people knew how slowly they are really getting from point A to point B, it'd bum them out.

But here's the thing, if cars aren't that fast, it also means that bikes aren't that slow. I'm pretty happy at 12 miles per hour, but I'm happiest that I've mostly managed to build a life where I don't have to rush. Hasten Slowly has been my motto for awhile and ironically it seems the slower I go, the more time I have and the more stuff I manage to get done.

One other thing I noticed back when I was paying attention to the average speed reading on my cycle computer was that it really encouraged me to ride like a nut. I'd get a higher reading if I'd go really fast from light to light. When stopped, really stopped, the computer wouldn't update. But it encouraged racing around. And some computers have that annoying little pace arrow that constantly tells you if you're going slower than you're current average.

If you're racing around and you love pegging numbers and going fast or are training for some big event, I'm not saying you should toss your computer. But don't let a little hunk of plastic and some electronics boss you around either. If I was a more advanced person maybe I'd be able to ignore the numbers on my handlebars. But I'm not that advanced and I find it much easier to ignore a cycle computer when it's stashed in my pile of bike parts and not on my bike!
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