While riding my road bike, there is an adrenaline rush as the bike accelerates. I use the Strava app that is attached to a heart rate monitor to track my physical reactions on the ride as well as collecting performance data. The main focus is to go fast and beat my best time.
However, that type of biking experience lacked a sense of calmness and mindfulness. I decided to begin a more mindful biking journey. The regular bike is the most beneficial for this type of experience because one is able to sit in an erect position providing a wide viewing angle and perspective. Riding in this manner enabled me to discover a unique and enriching biking experience. I soon discovered that mindful biking gives the rider an opportunity to activate the pleasure centers of the brain and sense an explosion of positive feelings. Let me explain.
Biking mindfully places your focus in the present moment. The sights, sounds and smells of the journey are more prevalent. There is a sense that you are connected to everything and everyone you encounter along the way.
When biking mindfully, I am more aware of my surroundings. The subtle changes in smells and sights as the seasons change, hearing the sounds of the birds and noticing the agility of the squirrels. Those interesting sights and sounds have led to many “ah ha” moments during my rides.
As a mindful biker, I am also able to focus on the interesting faces of the people I pass. Some engage by offering a smile, while others glance and look away. Some appear to be troubled or lost. Some are the virtual people on cell phones without realizing if they are walking on a trail or in the mall. Then there are the car drivers whose faces acknowledge my presence on a bike, allowing me to cross the street or others whose minds are in a place where they view you as an obstruction rather than a companion on the journey of life.
While riding on a trail at a fast pace on my road bike, I inevitably need to quickly shout, “On your left!” warning an individual walking on the same path that I am about to pass. This can startle the walker. However, when biking mindfully and approaching a walker, I can slow down and state in a calm voice, “Hello, I would like to pass you on your left”. I am also able to thank the walker who does not appear to be startled by my presence. This allows the walker and the biker to have a more positive interaction and continue their individual journeys with a sense of calm.
What a wonderful image it is to see a whole family walking or riding together on a path! It is a rare image these days. Children are usually happy and curious to see a biker, especially if I am riding my unique Street Strider bike. Slowing down my bike is a necessary precaution for the family with young children because the children’s movements and reactions are so unpredictable. Complimenting the parent(s) about their children and their special family time creates a positive tone for everyone.
So try some mindful biking and discover this new journey and all it has to offer you!