Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ride your bike!


Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling. ~James E. Starrs


I recently moved further south of where I used to live, basically doubling my commute (from 3 miles to 6 miles). This summer I've been bike commuting to and from work, about a 40-minute ride each way, mostly along Lake Washington. I am a notorious multi-tasker, chronically distracted and over-stimulated. Each time I mount my bike to ride, Nancy, my partner, looks me in the eyes and says, "Laura, be careful. Pay attention. Focus." She knows how easy it would be for an inattentive rider like me to get squished by a crazy text-happy driver.

I love riding my bike. Using my body as a means to get to a destination is the ultimate in efficiency for me. I'm helping the earth, trimming my waist, AND getting to work. What's better than that!? As I rode yesterday, I was filled with energy from the riding-- wind on my face, muscles working, heart racing. But I also had this intense sense of calm; of focus. My phone was safely tucked in to my pannier on my rear bike rack so that distraction wouldn't enter the picture until my final destination. The geese and the ducks were doing their inexplicably organized circle dance on the water. People were scattered all over on rafts, inner tubes, paddle boards, sail boats, enjoying the sun and the water. I looked on the I-Dock as I always do for the resident great blue heron who likes to hang with the fishers. Everything seemed so alive, so big, so connected-- these sensory experiences are so diluted, even absent completely when I am driving. "This is incredible." I thought to myself, "when am I ever this happy?"

The only other time I am indeed that happy is when I'm doing Yoga. During Yoga practice my cell phone is way out of reach, and I'm engaged in a similar energetic-calm when I am in yoga and on my bike. On my bike I have the chance to see the world around me, to appreciate things I miss when I'm driving in or when I'm a passenger staring at my phone. When I'm practicing yoga, I get that same great sense of energy from the exertion inherent in Bikram practice. And the absence of distraction takes me inside instead of outside, providing that same awesome sense of connection I have when I am riding my bike. I have a chance to notice more clearly what I am feeling-- both physically and mentally. I notice things I am removed from when I am outside of the yoga room. It's the perfect combination-- riding my bike to practice yoga! And it's so efficient!