Throughout the summer of 2014 one of our favorite evening pastimes has been to ride the non-motorized Interurban Pathway from East Lansing to Lake Lansing to buy ice cream cones. Afterwards, on our westbound ride home, we will competitively glide ride our bicycles from the top of the trail hill at Marsh Road, without pedaling, to see who can glide ride the furthest down the trail on the return trip. A soap box derby on bicycles so to speak. No pedaling is allowed whatsoever, as we just let gravity and physics pull us down the course to the point were we come to a stop. With no street crossings along this segment, you can just glide away. Whoever has traveled the farthest that evening wins!
The competition has been great fun, as each of us tries varying aerodynamic seating positions on our bike to see who can glide the furthest down the hill and then along the level portions of the trail. Fortunately, none of us have ever considered trying the ridiculously precarious and dangerous position depicted in the image below though – looks like a method for accomplishing a serious and painful face-plant.
While the contest usually involves two or three cyclists, we have had as many as four bicycles compete at one time. This makes for a greater challenge, as riders must avoid each other, as well as anyone else on the trail, while also trying to remain competitive. Three or four bikes allow for better drafting, which can significantly extend the length of your glide.
For safety reasons, we glide ride in the late evening, usually just before dusk, so the trail has the fewest possible users on it at the time. In the end, safety comes first, so, if braking is necessary, that just increases the challenge for the riders. Those who have needed to brake for one reason or another during their glide have still won on occasion.
Our glide ride competition an excellent example of how the love of bicycling can bring out your inner child – being both a healthy and fun event at the same time. Consider giving it a whirl sometime, but if multiple bikes are competing, it is strongly recommended that you do it at a time of day when the local trail is less busy. Glide riding of any kind should never be attempted along any road, street, sidewalk, parking lot/ramp, highway, byway, or any location when motor vehicles operate.