Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Choices, Choices

We're going to the Florida Panhandle in a few weeks. Which is why we spent way too much time recently going back and forth about which bikes we'll take on the trip. Road bikes or slow bikes?

Road bikes are the sports cars of the bicycle world. They are sleek and light, fast and responsive, and a lot of fun to ride. But they are pretty much limited to pavement. And even on pavement, their skinny tires mean sand, gravel, and wet spots on the road are not fun. Road bikes, especially carbon fiber road bikes, are best for group/club rides and supported touring. Our slow bikes, on the other hand, are like little 4-wheel-drive SUVs. Sure-footed and nimble, they ride well on just about any type of road, trail or path. They have delightful suspension that makes their ride plush. But because they are heavier, they are slower. You work harder pedaling. When we ride the slow bikes we have to either ride fewer miles (about 20 percent less) or spend more time riding (an hour or two more usually). We use these bikes for noodling around Miami and unsupported touring. They can carry a heavy load, go anywhere, and are totally bomb-proof.

Each bike has a different ambiance, a different mood. We finally settled on taking our slow bikes. Why? Several of rides will be on older roads on narrow lightly-developed barrier islands. (Think beat-up chip seal pavement with fine white "sugar sand" pushed on it in spots by the wind and traffic.) We want to be able to explore the area, heading down any road or path we choose. Slow bikes will be perfect.

Happiness is having choices.