Begun in 1986 by Carlo Petrini and a few friends who were more than a little upset about another McDonald’s opening up in their town they decided to start Arcigola, which is known as the Slow Food Movement. The main idea behind Slow Food was to begin a new philosophy around food – to enjoy the taste of food by knowledge and pleasure. A few key principles were developed: 1) disseminate and stimulate knowledge of the origins and preparation of great food, 2) preserve the biodiversity of crops, and traditions of food growing, and 3) protect the historical and environmental heritage of traditional places of gastronomic pleasure. (No more plastic chairs and brightly lit industrial chomping stations!)
Since those small beginnings the slow movement has developed into something more than being just about food. Yet while there have been many attempts at generating a slow bicycle movement I have to admit to being somewhat unimpressed with the results. For while your chosen search engine will throw up numerous entries they all seem rather underwhelming.
Now I'm not certain if I should rejoice or weep at this fundamental failure of the Slow Cyclists to get the movement much beyond a twinkle in the eye of the velocipedial savy sauveur? Might I suggest that if they do not have time for setting up a website, perhaps it is because they are too intent on gently twirling their pedals, smelling the wild flowers and enjoying multiple cups of tea at out of the way tea shops strung out along their meandering route? So engaged are they in the simple joys of cycling, that they care not a hoot for the mundanities of the inter-web?
However I fear that my dreamy musings may be too much born of hope rather than genuine expectation, and that the advantages of slow cycling really have not yet been developed to a degree befitting the wonders of the machine. The world of cycling is too much dominated, I am afraid, by the lycra clad speed obsessed cognoscenti to allow much advancement of slow cycling in the murky never-world of cyber-land.
Now there are those who might contest that such a "Machine" as the bicycle is not fitted for a place in the slow movement......slow horse riding you may have...but slow cycling...NEVER! But it is my contention that the real purpose of the bicycle is amply suited to the slowness of the slow movement; a sort of mechanized antidote to the motor-car or other forms of mechanised transport. The bicycle is a special vehicle, propelled only by the rider, without resort to noisy combustion (given that the rider has spared themselves a plate of beans on toast that a.m.!) and ideally suited to the aims of the slow movement. A machine upon which when ridden slowly you may converse, flirt, and generally engage in social communion, whilst travelling at a speed which allows you to take in your surroundings and commune with the natural world about you.
So accepting of the fact that despite fitful attempts by some at getting the slow bicycle movement off to a wobbling start we have singularly failed, how might the aims of slowness be applied to cycling?
Perhaps if we look at following the Arcigola movement in the establishment of three fundamental principles we might begin to develop a slow cycling credo which in time will benefit from sufficient momentum as to become a slow force to be reckoned with?
So what should these fundamentals be? I offer the following as a starter for ten but I am absolutely certain that others would be far more effective in developing a code worthy of the ultimate aim: