It’s a thinky time of life, isn’t it? Everyone stuck at home. Trying to work. Trying not kill their family. I don’t know about you, but I’m erring on the side of too damn much thinking, not enough doing. A little less conversation a little more action is probably in order. But because I’m still rehabbing the collarbone break I gifted myself in April, my go-to move, the long solo ride, is off limits. Instead I’m consigned to long, romantic walks with the dog.
The good news is he does vanishingly little to derail my train of thought.
I guess I have three ways I use the bike to work through what’s on my mind. First, there’s the long, solo road ride. These normally start out with me sprinting away from the house (note: that’s a metaphor for running away from my problems), but then settle into a slow, rambling roll. I don’t ride a preordained route when I’m cogitating like this. I wander, and I keep wandering until I reach a settled place in my mind.
The second option is a ride with a close friend or friends. This is the format when I think I need advice, or I need to air some grievances before I can move on. Honesty blossoms when you’re not looking someone straight in the eye, so I can count on getting unvarnished truth from my rolling junta.
The final option is a hard mountain bike ride. This is the go-to when I have anger to burn off, and I can channel that energy into railing turns and hopping rocks. This the express train to acceptance of whatever is troubling me. It takes the heat out of the moment and leaves me able to roll forward. It’s also the most fun.
I am not saying that a group ride on which you can tuck yourself anonymously into the pain train is incompatible with mental mathematics. It’s just not what I choose. Similarly, the trainer, in the basement. Too constrained for my tastes, but it does facilitate that streak of self-loathing that runs through most of my heavy mental lifting.
This week’s TCI Friday asks, on what sort of ride do you do your best thinking? Have I missed a trick? Are there more ways than I have tried? Anyone try bikepacking on a serious issue? Time trialing? The mind boggles.
Long, rambling road rides are my favorite way to work out things in my head. I stay out as long as I need to get clarity and call it a win.
I also get a lot of clarity from riding with my two friends. Because we chat and push each other, it takes me out of my head for a bit which is always beneficial.
Obviously this is different for everyone and I’d be interested to see what others have to say.
Need time to think? Reason things out? Long ride or any road ride or, at least, any ride that doesn’t require me to focus overly much on the road.
Angry? I go hard. Often I push the envelope far enough to draw my focus away from everything BUT the ride. At other times, I find something really hard and wallow in that pain…
Need to talk? See the top line. Sadly, I’m not much of a confider. But, I do think out loud so, a lot of those long rides contain bits of me talking to myself. Sometimes at myself. sometimes I shout…
Long road rides to nowhere in particular.
Not sure what the answer is, but the answer most definitely is NOT cyclocross. Other than the fleeting thought of how to set up that turn with this turn, or of going all in on a power section to get to a tech section first, there is no thinking during CX.
Robot, you and I are two peas in a pod. I use the same tactics that you describe. But here’s one extra for you… There’s a lot of time to think and a lot of satisfaction created in cleaning and lubing chains. Right now, my MTB has a pristine, glistening drivetrain thanks to some frustration yesterday. I’m saving my road bike for weekday frustrations that are bound to hit before the weekend anyway. Good luck!