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Mindful Riding

Old 07-10-12, 10:04 AM
  #26  
berner
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The term "mindful" has a new age ring to it but it is accurate. I prefer the term deliberate which is also accurate but easier to interpret as I find I can apply it to everyday activities more easily. Professional athletes know this phenomenon as being in the zone.

I have had the experience of being in the zone and as Artkansas has posted, awareness is hightened. While playing tennis, I found myself simultaneously aware of the movement of the person across the net, the tennis ball lazily spinning as it approached as big as a grapefruit, the chain link fence at the edge of the court and a car traveling the roadway bu the fence. My movements were fluid and unhurried with plenty of time to make the above observations and also to plan the next shot. Professional athletes in the zone are as graceful as dancers.
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Old 07-10-12, 02:25 PM
  #27  
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I've always thought a bike ride has the potential to be a spiritual outing. You've even got two prayer wheels going, and it's easy to get into a meditative state. But yes, you do have to distinguish between mindful riding and mindless riding. Mindless riding is where you have no idea where the time went; you're basically a zombie on a bike, just like all those car drivers out there. Mindful is a more active process, but I think that the more you do it, the less you need to be aware of being mindful. I think that just as your body becomes more efficient, your mind becomes more efficient. You can tell by how grounded or centered you feel, how aware you are of everything around you. You see animals ahead popping into the bushes, and you're aware of traffic before it arrives.

I also don't like wearing earbuds on rides. I'll listen to the radio when driving my car, but on the bike I like to hear what's going on around me, even if it's mostly wind noise.

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Old 07-10-12, 02:32 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by lhbernhardt View Post
I also don't like wearing earbuds on rides. I'll listen to the radio when driving my car, but on the bike I like to hear what's going on around me, even if it's mostly wind noise.
I'm surprised by how many people ride with buds in, as it's totally anathema to me. But since all of us were in the sixties, we are all also familiar with "It's your thang... do what you wanna do."
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Old 07-10-12, 02:42 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
I'm surprised by how many people ride with buds in, as it's totally anathema to me. But since all of us were in the sixties, we are all also familiar with "It's your thang... do what you wanna do."
I found myself alongside a rider wearing buds in a crit a few weeks ago. The commissaire went nuts when he found out.
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Old 07-10-12, 02:45 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
I found myself alongside a rider wearing buds in a crit a few weeks ago. The commissaire went nuts when he found out.
Maybe the recording in the buds was someone saying:

"Pedal - pedal - pedal - pedal - pedal . . . " to a latin beat of 90 bpm??
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Old 07-10-12, 02:47 PM
  #31  
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Mornings seem longer while riding. There's time to watch the slow change of light from grey to blue to pink as the sun rises, and then the burst of yellow that yet leaves the canyon bottoms in blue. I keep turning the pedals and breathing, listening to the birds rustling in the dry brush. Maybe it's that I'm usually climbing steeply, but everything just slows down to a more human pace.

Last edited by Lord Chaos; 07-10-12 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 07-10-12, 04:49 PM
  #32  
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I started to get into a flow while riding up to the Taos ski area today. But then my back started hurting. So much for mindful riding...

But coming back down was great!

On the way home riding through the Hondo Arroyo (spectacular!), I got stuck behind a truck moving a manufactured home. Pretty cool, until I got hit with a wall of diesel smoke. Reminded me of walking to work in NY City.
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Old 07-10-12, 05:46 PM
  #33  
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I have been doing a of mindless ridding but the idea sounds intriguing. I man have to give something like that a try sometime. Now if I can just remember it on the next ride that will be a great accomplishment.
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Old 07-12-12, 01:59 PM
  #34  
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The young karate master, when a beginning student, thought a punch was just a punch. Over many years he practiced correct technique while strenghtening muscle and ligaments. One day, many years later, he found a punch was just a punch.

Mindful riding is not a commodity that is plugged in much as a bike computer is attached to the bike. It is an approach to cycling, as well as to life, that is best practiced on a daily basis. For example, a relationship, whether marriage or business or friendship requires a deliberate effort or the odds for failure are high.
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Old 07-13-12, 12:36 AM
  #35  
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I'm mindful when I'm eating pie.
Cycling is a sideline.
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Old 07-13-12, 10:40 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
Buddhists have the concept of mindful walking and mindful breathing, where the purpose is not walking to get somewhere, but rather to walk to stop thinking and be deeply aware of every moment and movement, and breathing deeply and being aware of your breathing.

Do you do mindful riding? Purposely stopping your mind wandering as you ride and returning your focus to the here and now to be deeply aware of your breathing, your legs your arms and balance and what you pass as you ride?
It's funny you bring this up now. I sit with a sangha on Sunday mornings, and afterwards we have a "practice circle", where we talk about things related to our practice. Just this past Sunday, the subject of cycling was brought up, and it turned out four of us are cyclists (including the sensei), and we all agreed that cycling, particularly cycling in traffic, is an activity that forces us to be completely in the moment and completely mindful in the way you describe, adding in to it being aware of what all the cars are doing, if anyone is in a parked car getting ready to open the door, if anyone's tail pipe is smoking, indicating that they might pull out of a parking spot, etc. There's just no room for thinking about anything else but the state of the body, the state of the bike, and the state of the road. Total awareness in the moment.

Another activity like that, for me, is shaving with a straight razor.
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Old 07-21-12, 01:39 PM
  #37  
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I practice this regularly, sometimes only for moments but always try to go back to it. Trying to let everything be even if it is a inefficient ( at least seems to be) ride. There's a spot where everything clicks.
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Old 07-21-12, 08:00 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
I am usually focused on the riding, thinking about the riding and the route, the mechanics of riding, how to be smoother, what that car is going to do, etc. etc. If there is sonething I specifically want to think about, I can do that, I just generally don't. It's time away from that. Time to lose myself in the riding, to be "one with the bike". It's definitely an In The Now experience for me. There are times when my focus shifts to my surroundings, whether that is an interesting neighborhood, or open spaces and animals.
Yes. Although I don't do much racing, I'm always paying primary attention to what I'm doing. I've seen some cyclists who empty their minds while riding. They're the dangerous ones.
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Old 07-22-12, 04:09 AM
  #39  
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I tried "mindful riding" a couple of month ago. I hit a pot hole and flipped over the handle bars. Also there is glass and nuts bolts all over the place were I ride. Yesterday I was attacked by a dog. First time I ever had to jump off my bike and protected my self. Always be aware of your surroundings.
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Old 07-22-12, 08:20 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Phil85207 View Post
I have been doing a of mindless ridding but the idea sounds intriguing. I man have to give something like that a try sometime. Now if I can just remember it on the next ride that will be a great accomplishment.
Just tune into your breathing.
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Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 07-22-12, 08:24 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by otis66 View Post
I tried "mindful riding" a couple of month ago. I hit a pot hole and flipped over the handle bars. Also there is glass and nuts bolts all over the place were I ride. Yesterday I was attacked by a dog. First time I ever had to jump off my bike and protected my self. Always be aware of your surroundings.
If you weren't aware of your surroundings, you weren't riding mindfully.
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Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 07-22-12, 09:00 AM
  #42  
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Mindfulness while commuting is work - like mindfulness driving a car. In some circles, it is termed situational awareness. For me, it is draining and exhausting, because it requires a tremendous amount of focus.

When I am doing a recreational ride (training, cruising, group ride, etc.) it is a different kind of exercise - I am aware of everything around me (or I like to think so), but more like drinking it in. I love riding in the farm country to see what is growing, being harvested, where it is in the cycle. I love to hear the birds, the hum of my tires and drivetrain, and the rush of wind through my helmet. I just love the ride.

In the end, I try not to overthink the process, the activity. I just consider it fun, and am content to leave it at that.
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Old 07-22-12, 02:33 PM
  #43  
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It seems to me that there are three different-but-related "thought states" being described here. It could be my idiosyncratic interpretation, and I may be overthinking it all.

One state is that of full concentration on riding the bike. I think this is the "in the zone" idea. All focus is on what one is doing, such as playing tennis, and everything else fades.

Then there's the state of taking in the surroundings, along with the process of riding. Paying enough attention to the bike to stay upright and on the road, but with less focus, leaving much attention for the feel of the wind and the sound of the birds.

And finally, there's the full-on situational awareness, which I think any rider uses when riding in traffic. It's probably closely related to the "taking in surroundings" state, but more focused on survival aspects than beauty.

I rarely do the "in the zone" kind of riding. Maybe I'm not temperamentally suited for it, or maybe I'm always thinking about the outside world and how it might affect my riding. Commuting, I tend to go for as much situational awareness as I can. Comes from all the miles I rode a motorcycle, I guess, but often I can tell what a driver is going to do before the driver knows it. And then, when it's safe, I'll just let my awareness spread into the world so I can experience the ride as I want to. This is why I like mountain riding, especially climbing hills. Everything happens slowly enough that I can take it in. The process of riding the bike takes a background role, or as much so as it can. If I really want to feel where I am, I get off the bike and walk.

And really, this is one big reason I like walking in general. It's about as simple a task as one can ask for, and leaves lots of attention for other things.
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Old 07-22-12, 08:36 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Terex View Post
I do this occasionally when riding, and more often on a spin bike. Massive climbs can either blow up your mind and body, or give you an opportunity to master both. Yogic breathing on long, steep climbs helps me stay in a sustainable power zone and keeps me from panicking (like I used to do on big hills), and maintain optimum heart rate.

I find it much more easy to apply this level of focus on a spin bike. It's like being in a laboratory. When I'm on a spin bike, in front of a mirror, I'm able to focus my effort, still my upper body, and optimize power. Do this enough in "the lab", and it transfers to the road.
I don't spin, but I've done yoga for nearly a year now. Cycling it's helped a lot, in more than just improvement in strength. Awareness of breathing, some relaxed upper body posturing and leg alignment based on tadasana (mountain pose), and better knowledge of what hard efforts can be sustained and what cannot are among the benefits. A recent book, The Athlete's Guide to Yoga, is very helpful in choosing what I'll take from Iyengar and use in cycling. The author, Sage Rountree, recommends such postures and suggests using focus on breath, technique and alignment to occupy the mind when in a hard effort like a big hard hill. She also suggests the Buddhist concept of moving meditation, where you act essentially as Artkansas has described. Like any meditation such as TM or savasana, it's a major challenge to keep this stuff up on a continuous basis. You get yourself into the alignment, breathing, and a good pace and let other thoughts occur, but then pass by. When you notice you're not on the meditative track, just go back to it - no pressure, no worries about distraction.

But distractions are inevitable: climbing, descending, turning, shifting, seeing ridges, holes, and glass fields, and picking a safe path. Might be worried about managing cadence, too. If I can return my awareness to feet, back, and breath, I'm doing well. If I can stay in a physically comfortable posture while managing all this, ditto.
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Old 07-24-12, 06:15 AM
  #45  
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When I ride, I feel His pleasure.
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Old 07-24-12, 06:54 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Tandem427 View Post
When I ride, I feel His pleasure.
You ride a Chariots of Fire bicycle, do you ?

I dunno, back in the day "mindful riding" was called "paying attention" and "keeping your wits about you". I suppose "mindful riding" is a more economical use of words.
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Old 07-24-12, 11:33 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
Or a truck.
You broke the spell. For a few minutes there I thought I had been transported back in time to a coffee shop by the University of Washington to listen to students explain the metaphysical. I know the term is misused today. Chuck holes, wet leaves, sand, other cyclists and yes trucks are examples of the phisics of riding a bike. In fact the bicycle and rider are pretty good examples of phisics as taught in school. I may enjoy cycling and even walking and the sights around the activity but they and the actions I am taking are purely physical and I try to remember that so I don't end up in a ditch wondering how I got there.
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Old 07-24-12, 11:51 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
You broke the spell. For a few minutes there I thought I had been transported back in time to a coffee shop by the University of Washington to listen to students explain the metaphysical.
Last Exit on Brooklyn. Boy, do I miss that place.
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Old 07-24-12, 12:10 PM
  #49  
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In mindful riding, one concept/model that may help is to think of a still pond as you ride. As long as the road is straight and smooth and clear of any obstacles or other road users, the water is completely still, with a reflection of the moon across it. But as soon as anything even begins to disturb this stillness, you see ripples emerging. Your body senses the ripples and prepares or acts accordingly. But the focus is on the stillness of the water. You can also integrate your breathing cycle. I like to synchronize my breathing with each pedal stroke, exhaling on three strokes, inhaling on two (or four/three, or even two/one as you climb a hill), always exhaling longer than you inhale. The three/two helps control the breathing and your recovery after a hard effort, but this is a racing secret and not really metaphysical...

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Old 07-24-12, 01:06 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
Last Exit on Brooklyn. Boy, do I miss that place.
At times I remember the late night sessions with foundness as well. Nothing was solved but it sounded good. I don't see the concept of mindful riding as a substute for concentrating on what you are doing and practice at your activity. Just my opinion but it reminds me a bit of Professor Hill in the Music man and how he "Taught" music. I guess it could work but I can't see it replacing simple paying attention to what you are doing. That may be just me.
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