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.