In dense urban centers it's a common claim that cyclists make their trips in the city more quickly than they could in either their cars or by transit. I've made that claim myself. Bike messengers make that claim all day long - that they can get their packages to destinations most quickly by bike. They are fast!
Cyclists who race whether in organized races, less organized alleycats, or in off-road, cycle cross etc love the rush of making their bike do appropriate bidding. They are fast!
When we choose a bike to ride the choices are limitless. Retro steel, Aluminum, Carbon, Titanium, Inexpensive, Uber-expensive. Our bikes become an extensive of our wishes, dreams and the way we see ourselves. Sometimes they are what's in the corner or what we can afford. Reasons for riding are as many as the choices.
As many of our readers know, I come from the dark side. For the first 15 years of my life, I rode my bike everywhere. To school, to play with friends, on dates, to work. When I hit 16, the automobile marketing machine took a hold of me. My bike went into the corner of the garage and I started to drive......fast.
After years of college and building a career and starting a family, speed got the better of me. I began a quasi-professional (I got paid to drive) career in NHRA drag racing that lasted almost 15 years. Those years saw me go progressively faster until I hit my long time goal of 200 MPH in the 1320 feet that made up the 1/4 mile course. The recession came and the sponsors went and as quickly as it started, my racing career ended.
So I returned cycling. I knew how to ride. I still had a bike. Now the natural move for me was to start training and racing but the real draw was to go slow. By using our well-known infrastructure, I could ride safely and enjoy my surrounding in ways I never had before.
That's the beauty of the Minneapolis network - the safe and separate trails for biking around our metro area. It's become so easy to ride, stop, enjoy, drink, eat and ride again.
I've heard hard core racers be ambivalent about cycling infrastructure as they often train on open roads and will do so whether safe lanes exist or not. Commuters however - whether aware or not - are the group who benefit most from a safe, easily accessible, cycling network.
One could imagine that liquidating a (drag) race operation could leave a few dollars in the bank. The tow-rig, trailer, race car, equipment, spare parts - it was an expensive endeavor.
One could also imagine that once liquidated, there were funds to buy a kick ass bike.
With almost limitless choices, I converted my 22 year old steel Bianchi into a single speed bike that doesn't allow me to ride very fast for any length of time. With training of course I can ride faster, but I've come to enjoy riding along at around 15 MPH. I can see more. I can smell more. The entire experience is one that I enjoy from beginning to end.
When we look at cycling meccas - Northern European cities in particular - all riders seem to be moving at about the same speed. In some cities traffic lights are timed to turn green for cyclists traveling 20 KPH. The system works well. Those speeds make for a safe community of cyclist sharing the paths. Excessively fast speeds or by the same token very slow speeds can be disruptive.
Ironically, those same countries have a rich history of racing as well. There is a place for everything in the cycling world. This isn't a plea to slow down. Not at all. Just an awareness on my part of the joy of riding my bike slowly and appreciating the world around me.