Question: This sounds silly, but how can I learn to go slower? When I tour on our wonderful English lanes, I find it difficult to slow down. I finish the day exhausted. — Samuel P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: It’s not a silly question at all. Riders who spend most of their time on the bike going at a “training” pace find the slower pace of touring or taking an “easy” day just for the fun of riding almost impossible to maintain.
Here are two secrets to enjoying a slower, more relaxed pace:
- First, use a heart monitor or power meter. I know, it sounds crazy to strap on a monitor or keep tabs on your watts when your aim is to go slow. But if you set the upper limit alarm at about 75 or 80 percent of your maximum heart rate, or make sure you don’t push too high a number of watts, you’ll know when you’re going too hard. Make it an ironclad rule: When you hear the beep or see the reading, shift to an easier gear and reduce your cadence about 10 rpm. Then look for those flowers.
- Second, use an old backpacker’s trick and stop for five minutes out of every hour. Find a scenic spot with a fence or hedgerow to lean your bike against. Have a snack and take a drink. Stretch. Look around. These breaks serve to interrupt your rhythm — a good thing when you have a tendency to lock into an inappropriately hard pace.