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Slow thoughts on Slow Travel

Updated: Feb 3, 2019

Alan and Karen are riding our bikes to see the world before we get too old..then we will switch to electric bikes and see how long we can make that last.

Slow road in Portugal

We have taken to the bikes to try and find the right pace for us to see the world. You can’t see anything from an airplane but it gets you there fast. You can drive a car but the view from the windshield starts to look the same in Iceland or Idaho. And if you do rent a car, soon you are in a line with all the other tourists at that must-see spot that you found on the web, waiting for them to move on so you can take your own damn photograph. In a world where it is all Instagrammed all the time, riding a bike gets you breathing real air in the real world and takes the filters off.

I was fortunate enough to do some world traveling in the 70s. The world was much larger and a whole lot emptier than it is now. It was easier to go slow and absorb the world around you. Maybe this whole bike gig is just an attempt to recapture that feeling from the 70s- the sense of possibility and wonder and a surprise around every corner. As an aside for those of you that missed it- that decade rocked. Imagine a world where global communication took place via folded envelopes with actual writing on them and took about 6 weeks. That's some real slow travel.

You can achieve the same slow effect with hiking, of course. But for us that is too slow and it hurts too much. Bikes get to roll and they carry stuff, rather than our backs.

In the world of biking a lot of folks want to go faster and farther. They do training programs and sweat in front of screens in an effort to put out more watts. Here at Pedaling Pensioners we work hard at putting out just enough watts to keep moving and make it to the next hotel or campsite. Sometimes that is really hard.

On our loaded touring bikes we might average 20k per hour while moving, but we make sure to be off the bike and not moving a lot as well. On the big bikes on dirt 12k per hour is just fine...and on a loaded bicycle going uphill you can go so slowly that it would be faster to walk.

Since we are kind of lazy as well we wind up crossing the world in 60 to 90-kilometer days. You can drive that distance in an hour and it looks just the same and yet somehow it isn’t. It’s a pretty slow way to see the world but right now it is the right pace for us.

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