I was reading an article Sunday morning that offered some tips to cyclists training through the winter. Item six of ten got into the fear of crashing and riding alertly and defensively. I rarely, but do occasionally, grapple with a fear of crashing – those fears are fleeting along with exceedingly rare. I was just about to skip the bullet point as it had little to do with me when I happened on this gem:
Our doctors’ first piece of advice is not to drift off or daydream. “Live in the moment,” says Professor Oliver. “Use mindfulness as a coping strategy for endurance rides, to stay focused on what is going on around you.”
I’ve often wondered why it is I’m not petrified when I’m riding with my friends, passing 32-mph as we ramp up for a sprint on Tuesday night, but there is no fear. I put a lot of stock in that I ride with an exceptional group of people (of this, there’s no doubt). It also has a lot to do with the reality that, although we’re exceedingly fast (23-mph average on open roads for 28-ish miles), we are not racing. We stick to the club ride with a goal of keeping the pack together at great speed. Oh, sure, we fracture at the end when the sprint goes, but that’s to be expected. The entire core of our group cares about the other person, though, and that’s quite fantastic to be a part of.
This doesn’t explain the lack of fear though. It only gives hope to why fear would be minimal.
I believe, having thought deeply about this, there’s no fear because we are literally living in every moment – there’s no room for drifting off at 25-30-mph, you simply can’t. There’s no daydreaming, thinking about work, home life, or anything else. For between 70 and 74 minutes over that 28 miles and change, you’re only one place; in the pack with your friends. And that’s just Tuesday nights. I ride with fast friends over the weekends as well, and I added Thursday last year as well.
It gets better…
As I progressed in cycling, rarely missing a Tuesday night (our fast night), the practice of staying in the moment on the club ride grew veins that stretched out to the rest of my life. I didn’t realize it as it happened, because being a member of the recovery community I’d practiced living in the moment for decades already, but through practice at being captive in the moment I got better at it. When there’s nowhere to go but right here and now, because to drift could be disastrous, it opened my eyes to a deeper understanding of what “living in the moment” could be.
And it is good..
Within a few short years of taking up cycling, the sport became more than just a way of staying fit or losing weight (or staying the same weight). The more I ride, the more I enjoy cycling, the more I can grasp the why in the benefits as they are revealed… the better it gets. So shall it ever be.
There was more than one gem in the article linked above, but this was the one that had an “ah-ha” moment in it for me. More to come…