Friday, July 20, 2012

It's All About the Flow

Someone asked me recently why I ride my bike on the road.

I've crashed twice in the past four years (user error, I assure you), been honked at and/or nearly hit, and had cars pass close enough that I was able to pound on the rear door. I'm not gonna lie, it can be frustrating and infuriating to ride on the road sometimes. On rare occasions, it is scary; never once have I considered giving it up.

I love it too damn much.

There is something completely freeing and near transcendent about riding a well-fitted and tuned bicycle. After a while, it really doesn't feel like a vehicle, but an extension of yourself.  Many people I meet ask me how I can string 20, 30, or more miles together in one ride.  Simple: it's all about the flow.

See, we studied Mihaly Csikszentmihyi's work on flow when I was in college and I've been fascinated by the concept ever since. 
     In his work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Csíkszentmihályi outlines his
     theory that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow— a state of concentration
     or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which
     people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter

We've all been on rides where the temperature's perfect, the sun is shining, the pedals are turning smoothly, and suddenly, boom, you're done.  And you have little idea as to how you got there.

I love rides like that.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Event: L.A. Marathon Crash Race

I've heard rumors about events such as this: Poaching a course that's been closed off for a race in the middle of the night. I have to say, the idea has a certain appeal.

LA Marathon Crash Race

We need something like this in Minnesota, do they close the course for the Twin Cities Marathon the night before?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Be wary, there is a disturbance in the Force

I'm a cyclist. And not just any cyclist, I'm a roadie. What I do is dangerous. I know the risks of riding and I accept them every single time I swing my leg over the bike and clip in. There are potholes, gravel slicks, gutters filled with sand and glass... there are automobile drivers who aren't looking for someone on two wheels. Like most cyclists who've ridden for years, I've had my share of close calls.

I've swerved through snow, lost control going through sand, been buzzed by horn-honking teenagers, and nearly shoved into raised curbs by SUVs. But, I've never really worried about being attacked, mugged, or otherwise harmed intentionally. Perhaps I should re-think that after what happened to a young bike shop employee a few days ago. Woman Knocked Off Bike, Assaulted On Greenway

It isn't enough that we have to worry about all of the above, but we've got to worry about jerks who want to jack our stuff and hurt us, too?! So, for all of us who commute on two wheels, here are the things I do to keep myself as safe as possible:

Ride with presence. To ride in an urban setting, on the roads and on the trail, you have to have confidence. I don't mean ride stupid, but ride like you own the road, like you belong. Others will sense that confidence, even through a car's windscreen.
Be aware of your surroundings. I ride with lights in the mornings and evenings. I keep my head on a swivel at all times when I ride in or near traffic. Stay away from the iPod if you're riding in the city. If you know what's going on around you, you are better prepared to act.
Safety in light and numbers. As much as possible, ride while it's light out and ride with other people. The old saying is true, there really is safety in numbers.
Consider hornet spray. Mace isn't legal to carry in Minnesota, but hornet spray is. And man, is that stuff nasty to get sprayed in the face with.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.