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
     (Csikszentmihalyi,1990).

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.

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