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Mindful Riding

Old 07-08-12, 07:48 PM
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Mindful Riding

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?
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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 07-08-12, 07:51 PM
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I ride to clear my mind.
Not much left to clear.
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Old 07-08-12, 08:03 PM
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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.
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Old 07-08-12, 08:16 PM
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Only when I need the speed. When one detaches and achieves enlightenment, one can literally float on a reed or levitate. It dramatically improves ones power to weight ratio.

Then you become proud of your average moving (or floating, as the case may be) speed or VAM and brag about it on the forum. You reattach, become unenlightened, and crash like Icarus descending. Ouch. I hate it when that happens.
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Old 07-08-12, 08:32 PM
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I am into listening to the birds as they chirp and sing as I ride along. I often ride along a creek with lots of trees and birds.

It is so easy to miss these beautiful sounds by letting your mind think about problems or worries or the like. And, I see folks wearing ear buds when all of this natural and gorgeous symphony is right there where they are. They don't even know what they are missing.

The meadiwlarks, the finches, the red-wing blackbirds, the raptors. So glorious.
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Old 07-08-12, 08:35 PM
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After-work rides are for catharsis. I am trying to drain the stress from the work day.

On long climbs, I get mindful of breathing and cadence.
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Old 07-08-12, 09:03 PM
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This is exactly why I ride. The physical sensations, the environment, the scents and touch of air and light and shadow. If I'm early enough I get to hear owls calling.
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Old 07-08-12, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Lord Chaos View Post
This is exactly why I ride. The physical sensations, the environment, the scents and touch of air and light and shadow. If I'm early enough I get to hear owls calling.
Heard and saw 3 owls calling to each other a couple of years ago - 5am and dark.
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Old 07-08-12, 09:52 PM
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Completely buried in a race.
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Old 07-08-12, 11:04 PM
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works fine till you hit a chuck hole
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Old 07-08-12, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by howeeee View Post
works fine till you hit a chuck hole
Or a truck.
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Old 07-09-12, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by howeeee View Post
works fine till you hit a chuck hole
By being mindful you are tuning into the world, not tuning out of it, grasshopper. Mindfulness would mean that you see it and gently turn a bit to avoid it. You are more likely to hit that chuck hole when lost in your own thoughts.
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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 07-09-12, 04:58 AM
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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?
Yes, except that I don't do it purposefully. Here's something I wrote on a blog during a long tour a bit over a year ago:

Somebody asked me what I think about when I am riding along. It's not an easy question to answer. Obviously sometimes I'm looking at the scenery, sometimes I'm thinking about the route, sometimes I'm wishing the wind would drop. And sometimes I'm thinking about more complicated things. But a lot of the time I'm not really thinking of anything. Cycling is like that, it tends to focus one's attention on the sheer physicality of the activity. So I get into a rhythm and my awareness is focused on that; I couldn't be said to be thinking, just being. It's quite meditative. That's one of the things I most like about it.

And you are quite right, this is not the same as being unaware of one's surroundings. Quite the reverse. One is more aware of what is going on, because one is not distracted by conscious thoughts.

EDIT: Racer Ex, racing is a bit similar, I think. You see, and react, and seize opportunities (or not, in my case) without too much conscious reflection, because you are in the moment and utterly focussed on what you're doing.

Last edited by chasm54; 07-09-12 at 05:05 AM.
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Old 07-09-12, 07:15 AM
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I tend to think of it more from the gestalt tradition of being in the here and now. It's a slight variation that accommodates my less than stellar performance in not being attached to things, people, places, etc. One of the basic tenants of Buddhism is that suffering is the result of attachment. Hence, N+1 will always bring some measure of suffering.

Being in the here and now, however, does not guarantee any particular level of bliss. Sometimes the here and now is painful, dreary, tedious, or in many ways much less than I want a given ride to be. Of course a Buddhist might suggest this is because I have an attachment to an idealized view of what a great bike ride should be.
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Old 07-09-12, 07:27 AM
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Composed while riding a few years ago...
-------------------------------------

Owl calls in canyon
An echo from a far cliff
No, another owl.

-------------------------------------

Slow dawn erupting
Canyon's deep grey eroding
Syncopated owls
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Old 07-09-12, 08:05 AM
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I don't DO mindful riding. Rather, mindful riding just descends upon me without warning. When the wind blows through the leaves and the birds sing, and the squirrels or rabbits are out playing tag, and the flowerbeds are in full bloom...

Oh, and plus one on the whole truck thing. Especially when they come zooming out of their driveway! As I live and breathe, I could SWEAR that it's not possible to back a fishing-boat trailer out of a driveway as fast and proficiently as that guy did it! That woke me up!

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Old 07-09-12, 08:12 AM
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I'm really mindful of that narrowing, dark tunnel just before I crash.

Other than that, yes, I try to be mindful as I ride. Not so much of my surroundings because even at my meager pace they go by too fast, but for sure the bike and my own physical self.
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Old 07-09-12, 11:28 AM
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If that means leaving my Walkman at home, yes.

I really should start paying less attention to the Cateye.
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Old 07-09-12, 12:53 PM
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Just don't end up like that grasshopper.
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Old 07-09-12, 05:03 PM
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Kinda like "Paying Attention" to the surroundings and enjoying the peace of the ride.
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Old 07-09-12, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
and what you pass as you ride?
Mostly gas.

On a more serious note, I do some of my best thinking on my rides, or at least I think I do. By the time I get home the thoughts are gone, but they certainly seemed profound at the time in my oxygen starved mind. Almost like a near death experience without the shining light.
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Old 07-10-12, 08:03 AM
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This happens to me all the time, I enter a state where I become one with the bike, and just kind of flow.
To quote a line from a good bad movie; "it's the point where you lose yourself, and find yourself, in the same moment".
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Old 07-10-12, 08:12 AM
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Riding is a great mindfulness practice in and of itself!!
When riding you are naturally aware of the world around you, your breathing and your movements in ways that are actally harder (IMHO) to simulate in meditation.
That's why a lot of us ride - for the direct experience and the freedom.
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Old 07-10-12, 09:08 AM
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I read an interview of someone who had done solo cross-country rides and written about them, and when asked about how reflective/meditative it must be, he gave the same response as some of us here. You think it would be, but it just isn't. I'm with Chasm54: 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.

Racing forces a total focus. It's escapist in the extreme, as there is no room for thought of anything else.
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Old 07-10-12, 09:30 AM
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This is my first year of brevets and my boss is enthralled with my efforts. He asked me about how I occupy my time when riding. I had to stop and think about it - my time on the brevets seem to be very focused on managing myself, my intake, the route and my timing relative to the "big picture."

While on an event, there are the occasional periods where I kind of snap out of it and realize how far I've come or how far I have to go but mostly, it's ride management via the cue sheet/gps looking for that next cue, turn or control. I'm simply amazed at how fast the time goes.
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