Just be

For most of your life, you were told to become this, or become that, or to strive to be better, be different, or simply be something else.

Far too many cyclists – on a daily basis, and as a normal part of their ride – try to be faster. Many try to be the fastest along some specific segment of route.

Don’t be better. Just be

Next time you go for a ride, try to do things differently. By all means, if you must record your ride, then do so, but put your GPS unit in your back pocket, so you cannot see your speed, the gradient, or any other bit of data that you normally tend to consume with glee.

Ignore the concept of speed for speed’s sake. Don’t try to go faster. By all means, ride at whatever pace you prefer to ride at, provided it doesn’t interfere with what I’m about to tell you.

Sense

While riding, look at everything around you with fresh eyes. Notice that weed sprouting between those paving stones, or a crack in the tar? That’s not just a weed. That’s life finding a way, so admire the tenacity, then see if you can spot more of it. After all, no matter how much we harm nature, nature will always find a way to continue, often despite our best efforts.

And speaking of weeds, when you next see the yellow flowers of a dandelion, stop for a moment, bend down, and admire it for what it is: not an ugly weed, but a beautiful flower.

See also  It's ALL about the journey

Listen to the sounds as you ride along. Don’t do your usual and focus exclusively on the sound of a boy racer approaching at speed in their idiotmobile. Yes, listen out for cars to keep safe, but don’t stop there. Listen to the birds. When you hear birdsong, see if you can find the source – stop for a while, if needed.

Listen to the breeze through the trees, and focus on the feeling of the breeze over your skin, or perhaps through your hair. Feel the warmth of the sun, or perhaps the raindrops hitting your skin.

Especially if you can escape the city, take a deep breath and focus on what you can smell. In spring, you can often smell the wild garlic long before you can see it. You’ll also smell the enveloping aroma of a yellow rape-seed field. Especially on wet days, you’ll find you can often smell the metallic tang of roadkill, before you see it. And of course, you’ll be able to smell the petrichor – that smell of fresh rain on hot tar.

You exist

Focus on your muscles as you turn the pedals, but don’t limit yourself to your leg muscles. Sense your whole body operating as a unit.

Look at the white fluffy cloud against the blue sky, and know that you exist as a living, breathing being on this earth. Forget about becoming someone. Forget about social status. Forget about trying to be more, or trying to be better.

Just be.

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