One of my favorite local trails finally emerged from the snow, and this morning I gave it a pedal. I was going fast – really fast. And I felt perfect flow with the terrain, not like I was risking life and limb. I figured, ‘I’ve just forgotten what it feels like to rip a favorite trail, since winter in Bend, OR has been one of those, “100-year winters,” and time on the mountain bike has been sparse.’ Once home I loaded my ride data and, sure enough, I was riding that trail faster than ever before… even faster than that time I chased a Pro gravity dude down it (dumb; don’t do that!) and was sure I would either hit a tree or break my frame.
So, what changed? Time away from a technical sport leaves me rusty and needing a few weeks of “back to the basics” drills and practice to get my form in shape. On my ride I was practicing the nuts and bolts of riding with flow: dynamic body positioning, scanning ahead and momentum management. This cobweb-clearing should not have added up to a blistering pace on wiggly and sporadically technical single track. I was puzzled.
After a hot shower and a good lunch, I sat down for my daily meditation session. I reluctantly started meditating this winter as recommended by my physician to help manage my insomnia. Meditation is helping me reign in my wandering mind. In my practice today I did not do such a great job at keeping my thoughts on task. On one of my brain’s ambles it struck me that concentration was the new driver to my speed. Focus. On my ride this morning my mind gave undivided attention to the terrain as it approached. Thoughts about my to-do list, what I want for dinner, or if my Dad’s birthday present will arrive on time did not pop up to distract me. Nothing existed but the task at hand. Meditation: my new secret training tool.
Want to give it a try? I started by downloading some free meditation apps. I like Calm and Head Space. They both have an intro-to-meditation series, and each lesson is only 10 minutes long. That’s it. That will get you started. It’s a low time commitment, has nothing to do with religion, and you can do it anywhere (even at a quiet place along the trail). Meditate, and go faster.