Mindful Mountain Biking
I was mountain biking earlier this week in Bend, Oregon. The ponderosa/volcanic/sage-brush landscape of the high desert is ideal for riding mountain bikes and it is quite popular there. Many riders on shiny new bikes in shiny new outfits, encrusted with the latest computers, heart rate monitors, and sunglasses. There are numerous trails to enjoy - great riding.
I noticed that when I ride my bike, especially when climbing up-hill, I get focussed on the project of getting up the hill as fast as I can. My focus narrows onto the trail and I stop looking around. I put my head down, spin my legs and push myself as fast as I can as my heart beats faster and harder.
Lately I have been getting into something different.
Mindful Mountain Biking (MMB)
I've been conscioulsy slowing down, looking around as I climb through the shoulder-high manzanita forests. When I relax into the climb ahead, I see more — appreciate more — enjoy it more. I'm not going for a personal best. Climbing like this I am able to receive more from my surroundings. I am softer and more open as I pedal slowly up the red and dusty trail, my heart beating reasonably in my chest.
I see the climbs now as opportunities for beauty hunting: scanning the forest for unique patterns, shades of light, flowers, creatures on wing and paw.
I often stop in the middle of my ride and sit or lie on the Earth and drop into my breath.
Mountain biking is but one "adventure sport" of the modern era. Sometimes skiers, bikers, kayakers, runners, climbers, and mountaineers become fascinated with efficiency, speed, and personal bests.
Today I am speaking for slowness and contemplation and reflection when we are out there in those incredible places. No need to always race through.
Next time you are on a run, a ride, a walk, a ski — try slowing down. Maybe even stop and lie down on the Earth. Appreciate the wonder and beauty of the place. Feel the spirit, love, and connection. Soak into some mindful presence.