Party Pace, Coffeeneuring, and Why Slow Isn't Bad

31 comments by Scott Gater

I'll admit that for the first 10 years of my cycling infatuation, I followed the Tour de France and as much racing as I could. In the 1980's, the top winner of the stage and the top 10 of the General classification were listed in the sports page, under obscure sports, back when the physical newspaper was the only way to find out news. I remember CBS showing a week's worth of highlights on a Sunday afternoon and after the tour was over, waiting a couple of months for the magazines to print their stories of the tour.  

As I rode more, I discovered that I preferred touring over racing and loved the aspect of adventure over cut throat competition. I still kept an eye on the tour and even arranged to be in Oslo Norway in 1993, while touring, when a young Lance Armstrong won the world road championships.

But as doping reared its head in the late 90's and early 2000's, I began to avoid watching the Tour, knowing in my heart that things weren't right with it. I became enthralled by randonneuring and spent more time working on training for that, and discovering new routes and places on those rides.

Now as I'm further along in my cycling journey, I'm enjoying the slower side of things, that I might have passed over in my misspent youth. As Autumn is upon us now (my favourite time of year) I'm reminded of the slower pace due to the coffeeneuring challenge  and a comment I saw about Russ Roca's tag line from his YouTube channel. Russ uses the term "Party Pace" as a way of describing riding without an inherent sense of speed or immediacy. You're having a party and the pace is such that you can continue talking to your riding mates without issue.

I think more of us should try to embrace this philosophy, at least in terms of trying to get more people on bikes in general. By trying to not have everything bicycle related be a race, I think more people would be interested in events and would increase overall enjoyment, and encourage more people to go and try things.

We're incredibly lucky here in the MD/DC area to have the C & O Canal National Park/GAP trail. A trail system that allows you to go from DC to Pittsburgh PA through a wide range of scenery and spaces that is relatively car free/reduced experiences with cars. The trail is set up with free campsites at regular intervals complete with water and toilets and is something that anyone with any bike could go out and do. Is it as "cool" as the Colorado divide trail? To the elite folks of the world, no. But as something that everyone with a little bit of training could go and do, I think this sort of challenge/riding is something that encourages more interest from riders. 

Are you a party pace rider or is something speedier your jam? Let us know in the comments, a judgment free zone.


  • Douglas M

    Back in the ‘60s, ’70s and into the mid-’80s there was a category of cycling known as touring, no time clocks, not a race, and you got to wherever you were going whenever you got there. Yet there also has always been a competitive category of cycling and mid-’80s MTB cycling became the blossoming of the then-latest cycling form of competition. The bicycle business of Shimano then latched onto the business potential of MTB cycling but unfortunately ordinary, practical, utilitarian cycling including touring cycling then took a back seat, a very back seat. Today, less competitive but often practical bicycles of fairly high quality are being produced in and for the Asian bicycle market and Shimano has licensed the production of some of its earlier bicycle components there.

  • Todd

    Spot on. I can’t believe nobody has commented on Ultraromance himself sporting the Bedrock sandals and I think the Fabio’s Chest bag(?) in the top pic. Party pace, indeed. Some of the best cycling content out there in my opinion.

  • Scott

    Although the term ‘Party Pace’ may be new, the idea is not. Quote from Grahm Robb"s book, The Discovery of France:

    “The effect of the bicycle on daily life is now drastically underestimated by many historians, who tend to see it as an instrument of self-inflicted torture. Simple truths have been forgotten. As almost everyone knew a hundred years ago, the secret of riding a bicycle as an adult is to pedal just hard enough to keep the machine upright, then to increase the speed very gradually, but without becoming too breathless to hold a conversation or to hum a tune. In this way, with a regular intake of water and food, an uncompetitive, moderately fit person can cycle up an Alp, with luggage, on a stern but steady gradient engineered for an eighteenth-century mule.”

  • Eric Andelin

    At 57 I no longer need to sprint or be in a pack who’s goal is to go faster every time they ride. With our All City Gorilla Monsoon’s the wife and I have all but ditched the car and tour the community and world by bike. No need to go fast, no need for helmets (unless were riding with others, or its required) stop frequently, meet people, have a coffee or a beer and enjoy life.

  • frankie b.

    Next to walking my dog through my community, “party pacing” is the best way to stop and bs with neighbors and strangers alike. My ride of choice is a rehabbed single speed Schwinn Excelsior that excels in going slow. Safe travels everyone.

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