This is the second in a series of posts about my reflections on my 2,500 mile Atlantic Coast cycling tour. This post is about a phenomenon the Woman Tour riders call the “Biking Bubble.” At some point in a long cycling journey, you simply become immersed in the trip itself and the outside world fades away. THIS is the “Biking Bubble.”
Learn what I liked about the Biking Bubble. Next up – the challenges of a long cycling tour.
I Knew I was in the Biking Bubble When . . .
I hadn’t given much thought to the Biking Bubble when it reached up and slapped me the face. (Metaphysically, that is). One Saturday afternoon I checked Facebook and saw a bunch of posts about a horse called American Pharoah. I was astonished at the number of people posting about this horse! I asked my roommate what she knew, and she said, he won some horserace – maybe the Belmont. After dinner, the posts continued and I decided to google this American Pharoah.
OMG! He had won the Triple Crown! And I had no idea he won the Derby. or the Preakness. Right then and there, I knew I was, indeed, in the Biking Bubble.
My Biking Bubble
I’m sure everyone’s Biking Bubble is a little different. For me, I tuned out of the media. I didn’t watch TV (yes, that includes cable.) Nope. No news. No shows. Name it – I didn’t watch it. Occasionally, a roommate would turn on the TV. I would read. The only news of any real interest was local weather, and that was mostly during tropical storm Ana.
I simply let go of my day-to-day life. I didn’t do any consulting work. I didn’t help with my local running and triathlon clubs. I didn’t worry about the landscaping project that was to begin at home.
I simply immersed myself in the daily routine of biking. Up an hour before breakfast, get dressed, finish re-packing, put my luggage in the van, eat breakfast, get water and snacks. Bike. Enjoy the beauty. Break up the ride as needed to get through mentally and physically.
Eat something after the ride. Shower. Get out the next day’s clothes. Sometimes do laundry. Re-pack everything but my kindle, toothbrush and PJs. Talk with Bob about his day. Chat with the other riders about their day and what happened along the ride. Eat supper. Read and go to sleep.
Life in the Biking Bubble is very simple. It encourages you to focus on the here and now. Everyday, we tried to envision what the next day would be like. Would it be hilly? When? How much? What would the roads be like? But try as we might, we couldn’t control what was going to happen and when.
A lot is being written about the benefits of mindfulness. Mindfulness is often defined as being intensely aware of the present, without judgment or interpretation. Evidence shows we’d all be happier and less stressed if we practiced mindfulness.
So the Biking Bubble was a perfect opportunity to practice being in the here and now.
Virtually everyday brought a chance to appreciate the simple things. A lovely smell. A beautiful flower. A kind act. A cooling breeze. A smiling face. The ability to continue to moving forward. Ice cream.
And everyday brought a chance to appreciate things we take for granted. A real coffee drink, LOL! A working wi-fi. A breakfast with no timeline attached (and no hotel “egg pucks”!) A room alone!
For me, I also came to appreciate the quality of biking near Atlanta. For example, we biked on some pretty bad biking trails in terms of traveling long distances on a road bike. Bad surfaces, winding, hard to find your way. I came to view our Silver Comet trail in a whole new light. It is wide. Marked. Infrequent cross streets and red lights at each of them. It is cleaned and swept in Cobb County weekly. (I’ve committed to a ceremony where I kneel down, kiss the Comet and then ride on it!) And our other cycling routes are blissfully low traffic, nice scenery, well marked directions and good pavement. Can’t wait to ride Cartersville and Silk Sheets with a new appreciation!
Lessons Learned in the Biking Bubble
- Stuff happens. You can’t control it. Let it go and enjoy the ride.
- Improve your daily life by being more mindful and present.
- Keep the TV and media on very low volume. Everyday, people are drawn through the media to what they perceive as “bad stuff” happening in the world. Often, the bad stuff didn’t happen or has an explanation they are not aware of. And almost always, the situation is not as bad as perceived, nor does it have a solution we can influence. Change your focus. Look for the good and wonderful things about your life and others. Dwell there, not in a stew of negativity.