It’s OK To Slow Down

Picking nettles

Picking Nettles for dinner on a bike tour in York, PA

NEWS FLASH, Before the actual blog post starts.  If you are a cyclist in Frederick, and want to have a Pump Track built in the city, come join the Frederick Bicycle Coalition at the Taley Rec Center tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7pm for a Parks and Rec meeting.  We’ll be advocating (and the more the merrier, so they know it’s something that will have community support) for an East Street Park pump track, like the one down in Germantown.  Pictures of that one, here. The FBC has a grant in place to make this thing happen, so basically all we need is the blessing of the Parks and Rec guys, which we hope to get, tomorrow evening.   Just by showing up you’ll be helping.  Ya don’t even have to speak!  

What is a pump track? A pump track is a dirt play ground for bicycles, providing a continuous loop with banked turns and rolling mounds of dirt. This allows riders to travel without pedaling by utilizing momentum to keep moving. Pump tracks are used by bicycle riders of all ages to develop essential skills in a low risk environment while also developing fitness. Pump tracks are inexpensive to build, take up a small footprint in the park and require very little maintenance making them ideal for city parks.  


We live frantic lives, surrounded by social media, endless mp3 collections, four acre grocery stores, cars with more horsepower than we can ever use, magazines that tout the unattainable, and a media structure that focuses on tomorrow and today, but never the past.   The future, here, now, but faster.  For less money, if possible.

I often find myself in the position of selling road bikes to people who want to go race.  It’s their first road bike, and they want to go out and train and be fast and competitive and to get fit while doing it.

sometimes it's ok to leave the heart rate monitor at home

Goals are good, even if they arn’t always practical.  Reaching for something beyond possiblity is how we stretch and grow as people.  If it’s easy, you arn’t growing  as person/athelete/cyclist.  That’s the idea, and it’s a fine idea, but it shouldn’t be the only idea.

Racing is a great social activity, and some people need to have racing as a goal to get out and ride.  I’ve had tons of fun at 13 hour and 24 hour races, met great people, pushed myself to foolish lengths, and generally abused my body in the process.  Racing a rigid singlespeed on a rocky 24 hour race course in driving rain and mist is the very definition of nuts.  But I worry.  I worry about these people, maybe you are one of them, that focus just on racing.  I worry that they will forget the other side of cycling.  The part where you aren’t prepping for some big race, or to beat a personal best.

jay's basket, after a trip to the record exchange, in downtown Frederick

Cycling can be hard, masocistic, dangerous and expensive, but the flip side is just as compelling.   Ride a bike with normal shoes on, in a pair of jeans.  Go to a restaurant on your bike, where I promise you will get the best parking, head to the park with some sandwiches, or shoot down to the library to snag some weekend reading.  Ride a bike that’s comfortable, that you can take in the sights with.  Sometimes its good to take these bikes out for ‘real’ road rides.  Your singlespeed townie isn’t gunna make it up the hill, so you have to walk.  All the things you miss when you are suffering up a hill become bonus ride features; birds, flowers, tiny trickles of water, moss on rocks, novelty mailboxes, free fresh fruit at the end of a driveway.  If you have normal shoes on, you can go check out a rock formation and not slip and fall, or wander into a store and buy something, which you can then put it that awesome basket.  We need balance in our lives, a time and place to switch from fast forward to slow motion.  I’ve seen plenty of folks get burned out on bikes because of racing.  Our friend Jeff Schalk was a Trek pro mountain biker.  He trained his face off, and only now, after a half a year of retirement, does he want to get back on his mountain bike.  He recovered and switched gears by just riding a borrowed, simple bike when he wanted to, on short trips.

There is something hugely liberating and deeply satisfying about slowing down and stripping away goals, data and dress codes.  Our lives are already spent wearing uniforms, monitoring data streams, and reaching work or spiritual goals.  Our hobby and passion can occasionally be free and relaxing.  Try it out!

Here’s some of our townie bikes:

mel's commuter

James's old Schwinn townie. Dig the copper basket!

emily's mb-4

Emily's Bridgestone Townie.

xo-1 front basket

Bread in a basket on my XO-1 whatevering bike


First the clinics.  We’ll have a whole series of clinics this winter season.  We like to do them, and some times people even show up, and when they do, that’s great and fun, and everyone learns something useful.  They’ll be every Wednesday at 6.  Figure an hour or maybe a little more for each class.  All free.  Here is the schedule, which is pretty self-explanatory, I reckon:

2/8:  Clean your Drivetrain at home with not much time and very little money Clinic.  Self explanatory, that.

2/15:  Tuning your mountain bike for your riding style and location Clinic.  Adjust the suspension, tire pressure, gearing, bars, tire choice, etc etc, for where ever you are riding.  Jason will teach this, and it will be good.

2/22: Rebuild a rebuildable normal Shimano style hub clinic:  Shimano style hubs should be rebuilt occasionally, to keep the boogie man at bay.  We’ll show you how to perform this yearly ritual.  If you want to do it at home, you’ll need a few tools we can point out and source for you, including the elusive and under used axle clamp.

2/29:  LIMITED CLASS SIZE…. max five, TWO positions filled already, email us at bikedrfrederick (at) gmail (d0t) com to get in on the action:  James (that’s me!) will teach you how to lace a wheel (you pick, front or rear) and tension it so it won’t explode on you, or crumble like Michelle Bachmann’s presidential chances.  You’ll be buying some basic spokes (or really nice ones, whatever you want) a cheap rim, and a cheap hub to learn this skill.  Get something you can put on your commuter, so it doesn’t go to waste.  If you want to take this class, ya gotta buy the stuff from us, but we’ll point out OK cheap stuff.  Figure this class will go to about 9pm.  We need to hash out what you need soonishly, so let us know, with a quickness.

3/7:  First Wednesday, so it’s a fix a flat clinic.  Comprehensive, to say the least.

3/14:  How to overhaul and adjust a headset, assuming it can be overhauled and adjusted.  What’s a headset?  That thing that lets your turn the handlebars and therefore the front wheel, as well.  Sometimes these get coated in sweat and grossness and need a good wash and regrease.  If you generate lots of forehead sweat, or ride the trainer a lot, this is a great clinic for you.

3/21:  NO CLINICS.  Tent sale will be that weekend (thursday-sunday) and we will be busy and nervous.  Drop off comfort food and beer for bonus points.


Shop Rides:

Monday evening Flying Dog rides from Greenbrier.  These are mountain bike rides, so you need a good bike and a good light and a good back up light.  Lead by Herb and Jay, both affable and good guys, and friends of the shop.  This is sanctioned by the park, so you won’t get arrested, because it’s legal.  More info here, as well as how to sign up for those.

Tuesdays Brandon and John are getting some big miles in.  Join them for a longish, semi fast ride of around 80 miles.  8 am at the 7th street Starbucks.  Email us to see if this is happening.  Depends on weather.

call ahead to see if we are doing a Thursday ride.  We might, we might not.  If we do, shortish, slowish, 7 am, from the 7th street ‘Bucks.

April 4th, which is a ways off, Brian will be starting his Wednesday evening climbing rides again.  So stay posted on that.

Follow us on Facebook.  Or like us, or whatever you do with that thing.


Email us with complaints about how pointless our stories are.  Bikedrshoprides (at) gmail (dot) com

Thanks for reading,

The Bike Doctor Crew of Tactical Tackiness

2 thoughts on “It’s OK To Slow Down

    • I saw them at Fort Reno a number of times. Great shows, even if no one moved at all, cause they were afraid to dance. Have you checked out Ian’s newish project, ‘The Evens’? Also good stuff.

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