On the bike

I admit it. I’ve moved to the dark side. I’ve kept it from you but I’ve got to come out. I’m officially a cycle wanker. I don’t know why it took me so long to realise that cycling is the future. I finally took the plunge into road cycling back in the autumn because it’s a key to saving money and keeping the momentum rolling in terms of moving towards F.I. but I’ve discovered that it’s also an excellent form of mindfulness meditation.

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Cycling requires so much more concentration and presence in the moment and the opportunity to get into “flow” than driving. When I’m cycling I’m so much more aware of my surroundings. I pay attention to the sounds around me; use my hearing to identify potential dangers, cars etc as well as snatches of conversation from the people I pass, birds in the trees etc.

I’m far more visually aware too. I don’t just pay attention to the road in front of me, I’m more interested and affected by the terrain I’m on, what’s coming from a side road, checking and anticipating what other road users, pedestrians etc. are about to do.

I’m aware of the weather conditions and the feelings they create. I’m not one step removed by an air conditioned metal box, instead I feel the real temperature, get buffeted by the wind, notice the rain on my face and my fingers. All of these factors mean that my mind is far less likely to wander into places that I don’t want it to because it just doesn’t have a chance to. I’ll admit, the thought of having to get up in the pitch dark and go out into the cold and harsh weather to cycle eight miles at 05:00 in the morning during the winter can be pretty daunting. But in actual fact it’s only the thought that is a problem. Once I’ve forced myself out of the door it’s never as bad as it seems and once I get going it’s pretty invigorating. There’s also a sense of immense satisfaction, an almost Spartan feeling to be gained from arriving at work at 05:40 knowing that while the majority of people are still mollycoddled in bed, I’ve already done 40 minutes of exercise, braved the outdoors and reached work.

I also really look forward to the feeling of decompression upon leaving work. No longer do I step out of work straight into a stressful drive home. Instead I get to put whatever’s happened at work behind me, do something that I enjoy and calm the mind. By the time I arrive at home work is a distant memory, I haven’t stressed about what’s gone on that day all the way home. Instead I’ve effectively meditated and compartmentalised. It feels psychologically a lot further from work by bike than it does by car and that’s definitely a positive and not a negative.

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