Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ten minutes to inner peace...

Happiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions.
Saul Bellow

This past weekend I took a fitness course.

We were asked to describe a fitness activity and how it effects us holistically.

One woman's answer was about mountain biking.

It was poetic, and thoughtful, and made you just want to jump on a bike and head out to the mountains.

I don't remember the exact wording, but it went a little something like this...

"You jump on your bike, and head out onto the trail. Your heart starts pumping and you legs start burning, and for the first ten minutes your only thought is ~ I just want to go home and sit on the couch~

Then you start to get into a rhythm, your mind falls into a zone of peace and you feel connected to the earth and the wind and the trees.

You feel one with your bike and can continue on for hours. Your soul feels restored."

Again I'm paraphrasing, but that was the general idea of it.

She did such a good job at describing the bike ride, and all the emotions that come with exercise that the instructor referenced her little speech two or three times through-out the weekend.

She also did such a good job at romanticizing the bike ride that I started to wonder why I don't enjoy my morning rides more...

Why don't I wake up an extra half hour early to spend that time, bonding with my dog and the earth and replenishing my spirt and nourishing my soul.

Hell, why don't I wake up an hour early to really get a good long bike in, since apparently after the first gruesome ten minutes you hit a point where you feel like a cycling goddess who can continue forever!

This morning, on my regular bike ride I realized why.

Her experience involves a personal challenge, combined with independence and freedom, mixed with a little adventure and remote woods paths.

Her bike is her ticket away from reality and the stress of the real world for awhile.

My experience involves a 2yr old husky.

My morning ride starts with strapping everything together.

My helmet to my head, my gloves to my hands, my pant legs inside boots so as not to get caught in the chain.

I then strap my dog to my handle bars and say the first of my morning prayers.

As we speed down the first little hill of our driveway my heart is always somewhere in my throat.

I have no thoughts of wishing I were back on the couch eating a bag of chips... I have no time for thoughts at all other than "Please please please stay upright"

This first moment of fear lasts for about 20 seconds, or until I get past the dreaded spot where I fell off the bike a few months ago.

I start to calm down as we round the first corner and head up hill.

Which is promptly where my dog stops pulling like a mad animal and lets me pedal up the hill with my own power.

It is heading down this second hill that I start my second round of prayers for the morning. My Hail Mary's are perfectly in rhythm with the pace of the dog.

It is also where I realize how un-awake, and un-co-ordonated I am as I try to avoid the ever changing potholes.

Should the cute little rabbit that lives halfway down the lane decide to peek out of the bushes and dart it's hoppy little butt across the lane, my morning prayers become interrupted by general Tourettes like hysteria.

Once I have survived the rabbit run, I have about 10 seconds to prepare for Hannah.

Our neighbours dog who is extremely friendly.

She loves people and Bandit.

Unfortunately she has not quite figure out yet that she can't actually get to me without causing a near death experience for all of us involved.

Sometimes she comes from the back of the house, sometimes from under the doorstep.

You never know.

So as I approach the house I do a mad scan of the entire yard searching for a blonde ball of furry potentially fatal energy.

It's like Where's Waldo for thrill seekers.

She's not usually out in the mornings. So these encounters are actually few and far between. I can generally pass by this house without incident.

But I am just like the American border patrol, constantly ready for an unsuspected attack.

Thinking that an attack (even a friendly one) is less than probable, is just the kind of thinking that puts you in the hospital.

Finally we come to the main road. The entire ride has lasted about a minute and a half so far... so you can see why it's so hard to actually get past that anaerobic ten minute stage to where life is bliss and you love exercising.

Choosing carefully at this moment which direction you decide to take is important for the rest of the ride.

To the right lies straight roads with a few hills, that the dog in his excitement, will actually pull you up.

The only draw back is the fifteen dogs that are roaming around their yard untied at such wee hours of the morning, that all happen to live in that direction.

Or you can turn to the left.

Dog-less and flat, it seems like the obvious choice.

Yet full of twists and turns.

The blind corners combined with foggy conditions actually make this direction as periled as being chased into the ditch by two German Shepards.

The decision is usually determined by the wind direction.

Going with the wind will leave you with the false idea that biking is easy, as the dog loves running downwind, and will take you quite far with little to no effort.

Oh, how life likes to slap you in the face when you realize as you turn around to come home that the dog hates running upwind almost as much as he hates running towards home.

You are left with no choice but to drag a 45 pound dog that wants to go in the opposite direction back the 3 kms he just ran so effortlessly.

So if you are awake enough to remember this fact (I probably remember 5 out of 7 days a week, it's hard to think before morning coffee) you head upwind.

I never hit the wondrous "life is bliss" ten minute mark.

That's not to say I don't bike for ten minutes... I'm usually gone for about a half hour at least.

But the connection to the earth portion of the ride gets drowned out by the fear of my head actually connecting with the earth, and I somehow never reach that Zen state.

Perhaps if I didn't have the dog, I could bike on my own and enjoy the bliss that must come with a ride not peppered with near death experiences.

But then, who are we kidding here... If I had no dog I still wouldn't be biking off road trails somewhere with a Buddah-like grin on my face.

I would still be in bed, enjoying that extra half hour of blissful sleep.


  1. I just read through several of your posts and found myself smiling. Thank you!

  2. Thanks Marla! You blog usually has the same affect on me ;)