That verb gets a bad rap. It implies doing less than you could at minimum, perhaps less than duty demands at most. But it is one of the finer attributes of the cycling experience. You can’t coast in running. You can’t coast in rock climbing. A handful of other pursuits, like Nordic skiing and paddlesports allow you to cease your toiling and yet maintain forward momentum.

Sure, it seems like easy street, tantamount to sitting on your couch. But anyone who has taken in a technical descent knows that sometimes coasting is the only thing that makes sense. And sometimes, like following a huge late-race effort, it’s the only thing that is possible, a necessary retreat to give the legs a chance to recover.

For us, it should more properly be thought of as an integral part of the cycling experience, not a moment of laziness, but something necessary to being a cyclist, an opportunity not to be insulted. It’s a chance to take stock, a chance to focus on gravity, or even a pastoral of trees, farm fields and cows as it flies past.

There’s an elegance and a beauty to a pursuit that allows one to deliver the whole of an effort, to hold nothing in reserve until spent, and yet not crash to the earth in a dazed heap.

Sometimes we need to stop doing to recognize how we still want to do more.


Between now and the end of the year, I’m going to dial back some—coast, if you will. I need to let my mental legs recover. I will, reluctantly, be honest and admit I’ve been struggling with some depression once again, and while I’m closing the gap, if I go full gas right now, at this spot on the course, I’ll blow and get dropped. You’re going to see a few classic pieces reposted, but there will still be some new material peppered in there. Come the first of the year, it’ll be biz as usual. Thanks for reading—Padraig.


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  1. Kathryn G Vowell

    Padraig, You are giving coasting the importance it owns, it deserves. Coasting is a skill of its own, as toiling owns its own. Were it not for coasting, as you said, much would be lost from the toiling.
    Coast–don’t Crash. Coasting affords recovery.
    The truth in many areas of our lives.

    1. Geoffrey Knobl

      It is literally the most fun thing to do on a bike with your kids. I enjoyed it as a kid and really enjoy it more now as an adult with kids.

  2. MattC

    Coasting is as integral to road riding as taking pulls and catching wheels. Very few are strong enough to stay out front all day. We all need time to recover, be it for 30 seconds, a day, a week, a month or more. Pull into the back of the group and rest for a bit Padraig, we’ll all still be here when you’re ready to pull again. Merry Christmas everybody!

  3. Pat O'Brien

    Balance in all things. Or, yin and yang dude. You can’t have coasting without climbing. No one climbs all the time. It’s harmful.

  4. mark

    So you need to coast, so what, big deal, go coast!
    It’s good that you’ve discovered when you need to coast.
    Not everyone has…
    Happy coasting, (don’t ride the brakes!)

  5. Peter Leach

    To paraphrase the (to my mind anyway) great Fred Matheny: “When you go hard, go hard. When you go easy, don’t feel guilty”.
    Recovery is an integral part of any program of activity – coast a while, re-gather your strength and come back better for it, Padraig.

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