The Slow Bicycle Movement folks are all linking to this Wall Street Journal article about slow cycling by Jennifer Levitz.
Average cycling speeds are hard to figure since bikes differ widely. But Ms. Peterson’s group in Alabama says its riders mosey along at the low end of a range of 8 to 10 miles an hour. Over in Huntsville, Ala., the Spring City Cycling Club’s “steady-pace fat-burning ride” touts an average pace of 15-17 mph. For comparison: British cyclist Bradley Wiggins won 2012 Olympic gold by covering the 27-mile men’s time trial course at an average speed of 32.4 miles per hour.
Does Levitz include that 15-17 MPH pace in her “slow” category? It is, after all, half of Wiggins’ winning speed.
But pro cyclists operate at a completely different level than even the talented speed demons on your typical club rides. I average about 14 MPH on my six mile evening commute along the Guadalupe River Trail. That’s not blistering compared to many other riders, but I arrive in downtown San Jose drenched in sweat and it’s a good enough effort to put me in the top 10% of riders who log their trips to Strava. Road cycling clubs put that 15 to 17 MPH pace in their moderate to fast-moderate category for rides and riders.
In my mind, 12 MPH is about tops for a “slow” ride, and even that’s a brisk pace for most people.
Slow races are even slower than that — walking pace and below, and I presume they still disallow trackstands. As Copenhagenized pointed out a few years ago, slow bike races are nothing new. See, for example, this description of a slow bicycle race from the September 29, 1877 edition of Punch Magazine.
If you want to see competitive slow racing, go visit a sprint match at a velodrome, where racers will trackstand and ride at walking pace. Racers are limited to 3 minutes of standing per race.