When I was riding regularly a couple of years ago I had a favoured training route. I knew roughly where I was / needed to be in both distance and time terms for any given point. I also knew how to cut the route short or extend it depending on my fatigue. Since knee surgery and then a freak accident where I sliced my leg open on the chainring (don’t ask) I’ve struggled to ride consistently and comfortably. I’ve had the bike refitted for me and that’s helped but in many ways I’ve lost the ease and comfort I used to find from a ride. Which is an issue when you’re not allowed to run and you’re not a great swimmer.
On the last couple of rides I’ve had errands to run that have meant changing my route at the start. Rather than swing back on to my old tried and trusted (and pleasingly quiet) lanes I’ve struck out in new directions. With nothing other than a rough idea how the busy villages and towns to the south of me are laid out I’ve just turned the front wheel left and right as the mood takes me. This has led to a few errors and U-turns but also to many surprises – who knew there were so many llamas in the local area?
This weekend I was listening to a podcast and there was a quote which grabbed me, “If you’re not here now, you won’t be there then”. This quote was in my mind as I rode steadily along. I had a sense of remaining very connected to the present – not always the easiest thing for me with my mental health. The roads were full and I needed all my concentration at times but I found capacity to remain focussed and alert to what my body was telling me in terms of fatigue.
I’ve been wondering whether hearing the quote made my ride more “mindful” – a real buzzword / hot topic in both the mental health and business worlds that I inhabit. I guess the answer is probably – but more than that I was also conscious of the surrender of having no map and wearing no watch. If anyone had asked me where I was or what time it was I could only have answered “Here and now” which is such a rarity in this always on, constantly connected world. And you know what? I enjoyed it so much I’ll do it again and again.
As I write this blog I’m reminded that this is actually a lesson I had forgotten, one I remembered from a cartoon so I’ll reproduce that here courtesy of the excellent webcomic xkcd.com