Flows with the bros
go go go
The climb takes about twenty minutes. Switching back and forth countless times, the trail snakes on for a kilometer and a half. Once at the top, you’ve gained three hundred meters of kinetic energy. That’s when things get spicy.
Mountain biking is a gravity sport. Flying freely, flowing along the trails, few things feel so free. Few activities bring such a thrill.
Mountain biking is a gravity sport. There are a myriad of ways of overcoming gravity. Some places have shuttles. Others have lifts. Here, you earn the joy of flight through effort.
Riding mountain bikes reminds me of yesterday’s post. These words by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, are so true that I’m going to quote them again:
Each of us is born with two contradictory sets of instructions. A conservative tendency, made up of instincts for self preservation, self aggrandizement and saving energy, and an expansive tendency, made up of instincts for exploring, for enjoying novelty and risk.
Riding uphill, I’m riding towards a promise of coming back down. I’m riding towards an experience of joy, freedom and flow. My expansive tendency is fully engaged. I’m here to enjoy novelty and risk.
The hill itself? Gravity? On the way up, it provides the resistance. If I listened to my body, my instincts for self preservation and saving energy would likely suggest a sandwich and a novel rather than a ride up a hill. I’m on good terms with this instinct. In fact, it’s necessary.
One of the trails at the local bike park gets billed as ‘the longest flow trail in Atlantic Canada’. The __________1 in Atlantic Canada is a coveted honour around these parts. Having a lot of flow is very attractive. This bit of clay capped joy is a long flowing ribbon of bliss down hill through a lovely hardwood forest.
No brakes no future
What a way to live in the now eh? Imagine being fully present. No resistance. Just doing it. Merely going. Flowing. Full time. Let the trail do the work.
I’ve heard it lots:
It’s a well designed trail. Let the berms hold you. No need of brakes. Just let things flow.
Last trip to to the mountain, I tried that. Usually going last, I let the guys get ahead of me a bit before launching myself down the hill. This day, not using the brakes, I kept catching up. In fact, I was so far up Jed’s ass I was seeing the world through his eyes.
At the bottom I finally caught up with Brent. Dude, I thought you didn’t use your brakes on the way down?
His reply surprised me. Mostly I don’t. Mostly. There are a couple of tricky spots where I give a couple of quick tap taps on both brakes. Almost like hitting a drum. It’s more of a matter of adjusting speed heading into a couple of the corners and before a couple of the rollers. It’s no fun coming in too hot.
It’s not fun moving too quickly. Flow, in order to be sustainable, in order to be managed, requires a bit of our conservative tendency for self preservation. Too much of this conservative tendency in the wrong place and one might end up pedaling up hill with the brakes on. That’s no fun.
Careening off the side of a mountain and into a hundred year old red spruce tree isn’t fun either. It’s best to understand the forces working with you and against you. Flow comes from knowing when to brake, to apply resistance, to listen to the fear and when to let go and let those wheels roll.
So here’s an experiment2 for today: Notice when you are flowing. Notice where you use judgement to hold back, to resist.
Do you spend most of your time pedaling up hill?
What does a downhill flowing day look like?
At the bike park, the trip against the resistance took twenty minutes. The trip flowing down the hill took five. What’s your ratio of working against resistance vs going with the flow?
Biggest, bestest, steepest, longest, thickest, tallest, most flatulent.
Thanks Heather ;-)